Middleworldby Jon Voelkel, Pamela Voelkel, Scott Brick (Narrated by)
1200 years later, in Boston, Massachusetts, 14-old Max Murphy is looking forward to a family vacation. But his
In the ancient city of Itzamna, Lord Six-Rabbit wakes up screaming. A great warrior king of the mighty Maya, he has dreamed he was a lowly, flea-bitten monkey. How could this be? Was this some sorcery sent by his half-brother, Tzelok, the evil priest?
1200 years later, in Boston, Massachusetts, 14-old Max Murphy is looking forward to a family vacation. But his parents, both archaeologists and Maya experts, announce a change in plan. They must leave immediately for a dig in San Xavier, the tiny Central American country where his father grew up. Max will go to summer camp. Max is furious. He's always suspected that his parents cared more about the Ancient May than about him and this proves it. When he's mysteriously summoned to San Xavier, he thinks they've had a change of heart. But he's met at the airport by one of their colleagues, who explains that his parents have gone missing at the remote Maya temple of Ix Chel. He also tells Max the legend of The Jaguar Stones, the five sacred stones of Middleworld (the Maya name for the world of men) which enabled Ancient May kings to wield the powers of living gods.
And so begins Max Murphy's wild adventure in the tropical rainforests of San Xavier. During his journey, he will unlock ancient secrets and meet strangers who are connected to him in ways he could never have imagined. For fate has delivered a challenge of epic proportions to this papered teenager. Can Max rescue his parents from the Maya Underworld and save the world from the Lords of Death, who now control the power of the Jaguar Stones in their villainous hands? The scene is set for a roller-coaster ride of suspense and terror, as the good guys and the bad guys faceoff against a background of haunted temples, zombie armies and human sacrifice.
Their adventure novel "Middleworld" became available at the start of October, through a publishing house called Smith & Sons, a mostly theater-related publisher. Its owners were persuaded by their son Peter Kraus, who discovered the manuscript - and insisted that his parents take it seriously. Now, with a New York City launch and an active book tour underway, it looks like Peter's discovery is a hot new success.
Every middle-grade book these days gets compared to the Harry Potter series, and "Middleworld" has already been called "Harry Potter meets the Maya." And the plots have in common magic, a teenage boy, and plenty of battle scenes. But there are more differences than similarities, and the differences make this an exciting fresh book.
A Boston teenager whose idea of adventure comes from computer gaming finds himself at the center of cosmic struggles between ancient Maya gods within the jungles of Central America, in this husband-and-wife team's first installment of the Jaguar Stones trilogy. Max Murphy's archeologist parents leave him behind, as usual, when they rush off to excavate an ancient Maya temple, and so he is surprised to be summoned to join them a week later. By the time he arrives, however, they have gone missing, and Max can tell that people are holding back the details. Despite his lifelong lack of interest, Max finally has to learn about Maya culture, especially when his parents' disappearance seems to have to do with the five "jaguar stones" used by the ancient ruler-gods and said to confer ultimate powers. This elaborate genre-bender involves ruthless smugglers; family estrangements; a helper in the form of a teenage Maya girl named Lola; two ancient Maya rulers brought to life (and given the bodies of baboons); Maya culture, past and present; zombies; and the Maya gods' eternal conflicts. That Max has somehow been chosen (presumably by the gods) to play the hero goes unresolved here, but between the exotic settings and themes and the breakneck pace, readers may not even notice the thin characterizations and motivations. A detailed appendix surveys the Maya world. Ages 11-up. (Oct.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Meet the Author
Jon Voelkel grew up in Peru, Costa Rica and Colombia. He was not a natural-born adventurer and found life in the jungle difficult, to say the least. Having survived monkey stew, an attack by giant rats, and a plane crash in the middle of the rainforest, he escaped to college in Minneapolis and went on to business school in Barcelona. After working in advertising agencies in Spain, Holland and England, he started his own agency in London with four other partners - one of whom would be his future wife. In 2001, the London Financial Times named him one of the top fifty creative minds in Britain.
While Jon was battling the daily perils of the jungle, Pamela Craik Voelkel was writing stories and dreaming of adventure in a sedate seaside town in the north of England where nothing ever happened. After graduating from Leeds University in English Language and Literature, she fled to London to take any job with "writer" in the title. After stints reviewing books, writing catalogs and penning speech bubbles for photo-romances, she become an advertising copywriter. As Creative Director of Craik Jones Watson Mitchell Voelkel, she helped the agency win literally hundreds of creative awards.
In 2001, the Voelkels moved to rural Vermont and began work on 'Middleworld', the first book they have written together. In an interesting male/female collaboration, Jon plots out the action (much of it based on his own childhood memories and the bedtime stories he tells their three children), then Pamela fleshes out the characters and decides how they feel about things.
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