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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
The Gift of Sunderland: An Australian Fantasy Adventure is an epic fantasy for children and preteens written by J.E. Rogers. This book is a sequel to The Sword of Demelza, but it can be read as a stand-alone novel. Waylond Ayers is a Numbat who lives in the forests of Sunderland with his father, Roland, and his brother, Morland. Waylond has been chosen by Verdigris, the former Guardian of the Forest, to be the next Guardian, but he's not sure whether he is capable enough to assume the role his father had held before him; he's content with being a blacksmith. His brother Morland is furious at being passed over for the honor and is determined to claim the role of Guardian for himself. To do that, he must find the green crystal that fits within the hilt of the Guardian's sword.
J.E. Rogers' epic fantasy for preteens and children, The Gift of Sunderland: An Australian Fantasy Adventure, is exciting and fast-paced. Waylond is a marvelous character, and I could easily see why the Forest chose him to be the next Guardian. The illustrations that are placed throughout the text are intricate and beautifully rendered pencil drawings that give the characters personality and bring them to life. Rogers also includes a glossary filled with pictures and drawings of Australian locations for this story, as well as information on the bilbies, wombats, dibblers, and the other species that appear in this book. I was fascinated by the diversity of the wildlife of this country, and saddened by the statistics of the many endangered animals. The Gift of Sunderland: An Australian Fantasy Adventure is epic fantasy at its finest, and it's most highly recommended.