Scepter of the Ancients (Skulduggery Pleasant Series #1)

Scepter of the Ancients (Skulduggery Pleasant Series #1)


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Stephanie led a pretty quiet existence until her uncle died. Not only did he leave her his mansion, he left her a new best friend—Skulduggery Pleasant, a skeleton detective (sorry, a supernatural skeleton detective)—who waltzes into her life for keeps. Now she's acquiring magical powers, endangering her life to fight evil, and trading snappy comebacks with something without a body.

So much for her quiet existence.

Stephanie's big job is to find the Scepter of the Ancients—a weapon capable of destroying anyone and anything—before the evil Faceless Ones steal it for themselves. She just has to defeat a bunch of ghouls, kick the butts of a clan of vampires, and hide her powers from the entire world (oh, and her parents).

No worries. She's got a bunch of bones on her side.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061731556
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 04/21/2009
Series: Skulduggery Pleasant Series , #1
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 416
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.50(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range: 9 - 12 Years

About the Author

Derek Landy lives near Dublin. Before writing his children's story about a sharply dressed skeleton detective, he wrote the screenplays for a zombie movie and a little thriller in which everybody dies.

As a blackbelt in Kenpo Karate, he has taught countless children how to defend themselves, in the hopes of one day building his own private munchkin army. He firmly believes that they await his call to strike against his enemies (he doesn't actually have any enemies but he's assuming they'll show up sooner or later).

The reason Derek writes his own biographical blurb is so that he can finally refer to himself in the third person without looking pompous or insane.

Read an Excerpt

Scepter of the Ancients

By Derek Landy
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.
Copyright © 2009

Derek Landy
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780061731556

Chapter One


Gordon Edgley's sudden death came as a shock to everyone—not least himself. One moment he was in his study, seven words into the twenty-fifth sentence of the final chapter of his new book, And the Darkness Rained upon Them, and the next he was dead. A tragic loss, his mind echoed numbly as he slipped away.

The funeral was attended by family and acquaintances but not many friends. Gordon hadn't been a well-liked figure in the publishing world, for although the books he wrote—tales of horror and magic and wonder—regularly reared their heads in the bestseller lists, he had the disquieting habit of insulting people without realizing it, then laughing at their shock. It was at Gordon's funeral, however, that Stephanie Edgley first caught sight of the gentleman in the tan overcoat.

He was standing under the shade of a large tree, away from the crowd, the coat buttoned up all the way despite the warmth of the afternoon. A scarf was wrapped around the lower half of his face, and even from her position on the far side of the grave, Stephanie could make out the wild and frizzy hair that escaped from the wide-brimmed hat he wore low over his gigantic sunglasses. She watched him, intrigued by his appearance. And then, like he knew he was being observed, he turned andwalked back through the rows of headstones and disappeared from sight.

After the service, Stephanie and her parents traveled back to her dead uncle's house, over a humpbacked bridge and along a narrow road that carved its way through thick woodland. The gates were heavy and grand and stood open, welcoming them into the estate. The grounds were vast, and the old house itself was ridiculously big.

There was an extra door in the living room, a door disguised as a bookcase, and when she was younger Stephanie liked to think that no one else knew about this door, not even Gordon himself. It was a secret passageway, like in the stories she'd read, and she'd make up adventures about haunted houses and smuggled treasures. This secret passageway would always be her escape route, and the imaginary villains in these adventures would be dumbfounded by her sudden and mysterious dis-appearance. But now this door, this secret passageway, stood open, and there was a steady stream of people through it, and she was saddened that this little piece of magic had been taken from her.

Tea was served and drinks were poured and little sandwiches were passed around on silver trays, and Stephanie watched the mourners casually ap-praise their surroundings. The major topic of hushed conversation was the will. Gordon wasn't a man who doted, or even demonstrated any great affec-tion, so no one could predict who would inherit his substantial fortune. Stephanie could see the greed seep into the watery eyes of her father's other brother, a horrible little man called Fergus, as he nodded sadly and spoke somberly and pocketed the silverware when he thought no one was looking.

Fergus's wife was a thoroughly dislikable, sharp-featured woman named Beryl. She drifted through the crowd, deep in unconvincing grief, prying for gossip and digging for scandal. Her daughters did their best to ignore Stephanie. Carol and Crystal were twins, fifteen years old and as sour and vindictive as their parents. Whereas Stephanie was dark haired, tall, slim, and strong, they were bottle blond, stumpy, and dressed in clothes that made them bulge in all the wrong places. Apart from their brown eyes, no one would have guessed that the twins were related to her. She liked that. It was the only thing about them she liked. She left them to their petty glares and snide whispers, and went for a walk.

The corridors of her uncle's house were long and lined with paintings. The floor beneath her feet was wooden, polished to a gleam, and the house smelled of age. Not musty, exactly, but . . . experienced. These walls and these floors had seen a lot in their time, and Stephanie was nothing but a faint whisper to them. Here one instant, gone the next.

Gordon had been a good uncle. Arrogant and irresponsible, yes, but also childish and enormous fun, with a light in his eyes, a glint of mischief. When everyone else was taking him seriously, Stephanie was privy to the winks and the nods and the half smiles that he would shoot her way when they weren't looking. Even as a child, she'd felt she understood him better than most. She liked his intelligence, and his wit, and the way he didn't care what people thought of him. He'd been a good uncle to have. He'd taught her a lot.

She knew that her mother and Gordon had briefly dated ("courted," her mother called it), but when Gordon had introduced her to his younger brother, it was love at first sight. Gordon liked to grumble that he had never gotten more than a peck on the cheek, but he had stepped aside graciously, and had quite happily gone on to have numerous torrid affairs with numerous beautiful women. He used to say that it had almost been a fair trade, but that he suspected he had lost out.

She climbed the staircase to the first floor, pushed open the door to Gordon's study, and stepped inside. The walls were filled with the framed covers from his bestsellers. They shared space with all manner of awards. One entire wall was made up of shelves jammed with books. There were biographies and historical novels and science texts and psychology tomes, and there were battered little paperbacks stuck in between. A lower shelf had magazines, literary reviews, and quarterlies. She passed the shelves that housed first editions of Gordon's novels and approached the desk.

She looked at the chair where he'd died, trying to imagine him there, how he must have slumped.

And then a voice so smooth, it could have been made of velvet.


Excerpted from Scepter of the Ancients by Derek Landy Copyright © 2009 by Derek Landy. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Scepter of the Ancients (Skulduggery Pleasant Series #1) 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 178 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Skullduggery Pleasant is a skeleton detective who stops a dark wizard. There are lots of action/battle scenes, and yet it has funny moments. This is definitly a series where you have to go in sequential order to understand the story line, plus it makes it better. One of the main characters is a girl, so this book would appeal to both boys and girls. There is mystery, action and magic in this book, even if you don't like fantasy books you will like this one. I am a twelve year old boy and an avid reader and this is one of the best books I've read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I could read this book for hours and hours. This book has a little of everything. Humor, action, mystery, suspense. The first couple chapters are boring, but as you are reading them you are getting hooked. Finally there is a chapter that starts that the book is locked in front of your face. Then from that point on it is awesome. Over all this is a very good book. I love it!!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Skulduggery Pleasant is the best series ever!!! I am a Harry Potter fanatic, and yet the HP series pales in comparison. I've convinced most of my class to read it. They say that it is the best ever! My friend said that she was on pg 11, and it was the best book she'd ever read! This magnificent series of 6 is my favorite series ever!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I just had to keep reading. I checked it out from the school library in first block. I ended up hiding the book behind all of my textbooks so i could read it. I had finished it by the end of the day! - Jackie
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An extremely good book that is good for all ages. I definetly recommend this if you love magic and action. Cant wait to read the rest of the series!
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
It all started when Gordon Edgley died. Well, it actually started much earlier than that. I mean, if you want to be picky it "all" started at the dawn of time. Or is that just when time started? Never mind. The point is, for Stephanie Edgley it all started when her uncle Gordon died. Gordon wasn't much of a family man; in fact, Stephanie was probably the one closest to him. Even saying that, though, is a bit of a stretch. It would probably be better to say that he tolerated her presence better and more often than he did the rest of his family. Which still doesn't completely explain why he left his house, his fortune, and his book royalties to her. Actually, there's a lot of unexplained things about Gordon, even more so now that he's gone. Like the strange man at the funeral. The one wrapped so tightly in a scarf, sunglasses, and an overcoat that you can't even glimpse an inch of his skin. That was the first time Stephanie had ever encountered Skulduggery Pleasant.

The next time they were in the same room was for the reading of Gordon's will. The one where he left most of his things to his twelve-year-old niece. Much to the dismay of Stephanie's aunt and uncle, who got a boat (Uncle Fergus gets seasick), a car ("We already have a car!"), and a brooch ("It doesn't even have any jewels on it."). Stephanie's parents, incidentally, got the villa in France. Skulduggery Pleasant received the strangest gift of all, which is some very cryptic advice. With which he was completely content. This was not to be the last encounter between Stephanie and Skulduggery.

Having spent most of a day exploring part of Stephanie's new house, she and her mother get in the car to go home and find that the car won't start. The mechanic that comes to fix it has to tow it back to his shop. Stephanie convinces her mother that she can stay at the house alone while the car is being fixed. But, the storm that started while they were waiting for the mechanic grows worse as time passes. It is eventually determined that the car won't be fixed until tomorrow, and the road to the house is flooded. Stephanie is stuck for the night. Though it takes some convincing for her mom to leave her there.

Freedom and solitude: Stephanie couldn't be happier! Which lasts all of a few minutes. Someone is trying to break into the house, and somehow Stephanie doesn't believe him when he says he won't hurt her if she just lets him in to get what he wants. Skulduggery Pleasant to the rescue! And what a strange rescuer he is. In the struggle with the intruder, Skulduggery's hat and scarf fall off to reveal only a skeleton! Stephanie is so shocked by this that she mostly forgets what he's done. Now she has a million questions: Who and what is Skulduggery? How did he know her uncle? Why was he at the house? How is it that he can throw fire? Can he teach her? And how does he stay upright when there's no skin and muscle to hold him together?

Stephanie is stunned, but oddly not frightened, by recent events. She was just contemplating how boring life was, and suddenly life got considerably more thrilling! Skulduggery isn't in the market for a sidekick, but he might just have gotten one. After one night in his world (he did have to keep her safe after all) Stephanie can't imagine pretending not to know what she knows....

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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I honestly love the serise so far, and Derek Landy better hurry up before all his fans go and riot for the next book. Only one thing nags me... Why are all the halarious authors from UK?
mary bannon More than 1 year ago
Funny, overall awesome story. Great for teens
TROOPER1EF More than 1 year ago
this is the best book i have ever read its halarious i did skip meals to read it the only problem is landy is only planing on making 9 so sad i wish that he would never stop sometimes this book gets slightly gory but not much in the rest of the 3 that are out right now i would say the first one is the best the second one is the funniest and the third one is the sadist, most suspenseful, and most misterious.i dont want to read any other books than this one im going to die from waiting for the next one to come out. i highly recomend this book to any teen or 12 yrs. iv read it so many times its great! i think they should have stuck with the original jacket though.(hope val gets skulduggery's original skull back and saves him)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Best. Series. Ever. I love Skulduggery Pleasant! There are 8 books so far. I'm on the 6th. Again… Best! Series! Ever!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I got recommendation by my teacher and I ended up reading it within about four days.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fast paced, fun, and hilarious! Can't wait to read the rest of the series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Its wierd how they only have the first 3... their on #6 and counting
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great for reading
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The story was very intruiging and kept me on my toes. Amazing!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The characters in this book are clever and fun. The plot line gets more and more interesting as you read the book. This book is laugh out loud somthing you can really get into! On to the next one
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book was so good I couldn't stop reading it. It fight bot be the bes book in the series, but when first read it you'll love it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Best book ever
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of the best books ever written! Amazing storyline and characters!
Regina Ratkovich More than 1 year ago
Yeah, it's cool and one of the best books that i've ever read.
george lang More than 1 year ago
I just started reading this book and its great. When i finish this, im finish rangers apprentice and start this. I can' wait until big bad sleleton comes and tje action begins. The cover is awesome with a hot girl and a skeleton, very fun.
Ryan Dunn More than 1 year ago
Iteas so good even though i read it before it came out on the nook but i wish they had all of the series of 5 and soon to be 5
Athena4Books More than 1 year ago
As soon as i read the sample i knew i wanted it. Very entertaining and full of wit and action. My only comment is that stephnie is a really boring main charcter and was mostly an observer in battle scenes. But she defintly has promise and will hopefully develop in future books.
Jamie Santy More than 1 year ago
This book is great. It immeadiately gets you hooked to it in the first chapter. Usually it takes the second or third chapter to get you interested, but not witth this one. I could relate to Stephanie and I loved the characters. I could picture them in my head. I swear I laughed out multiple times while reading this book. I love the witty dialogue. I am currently reading the second book right now, and I highly recommend this book(:
Kim Largey More than 1 year ago
It was the best ever for summer!