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A heavy thunderstorm brings a motley trio of fugitive ex-circus performers, their armored pursuers and a band of smugglers together under the roof of a greedy innkeeper in this never-a-dull-moment sequel to Tower of Treasure (2010).
Complications pile on as young Dessa and her two companions—a small, irascible, bright-blue Norker and a huge, trollish Ettin—find refuge in a stable. They do so just as the owner of the adjacent inn is finishing a deal with a crew of smugglers and moments before Captain Drake and his elite troop of royal guards ride into the innyard. As in the opening episode, Chantler not only shows an ability to pack plenty of clearly defined action into his graphic panels, but also develops unusually nuanced characters through glances, gestures, subtleties of facial expression and the occasional quick flashback. In the course of a nonstop flurry of chases, captures, wild mishaps, pratfalls, acrobatic feats and narrow escapes, Dessa also picks up a cryptic clue to the whereabouts of her kidnapped twin brother and his evil captor to set up the next chapter.
Readers should start with the first volume to get the characters' back stories, but here's an animated, breathlessly paced adventure that's just hitting its stride. (Graphic fantasy. 10-12)