Having throughly enjoyed Isobelle Carmody's first novel in the Obernewtyn Chronicles (conveniently titled Obernewtyn), I was looking forward to the second book, The Farseekers. Happily, I was not disappointed.
This book starts two years after the end of Obernewtyn. Obernewtyn is now safely in the hands of the Misfits and, exactly as Rushton intended, is a refuge for those with emerging mental talents who are hunted by the Council and therefore general society in the Land. As the book begins, Elspeth (who is now head of the Farseekers Guild) learns that the Beforetime machine hidden in caves near Obernewtyn has picked up the thoughts of a very powerful Misfit somewhere to the south. There is also believed to be a possibly-untouched Beforetime library in the same general vicinity. An expedition is mounted and Elspeth and several others of the Obernewtyn Misfits head south to try to find both the library and the Misfit.
Along the way they get caught up in two different rebellions against the Council, find themselves in terrible danger several times, get captured by Herders, learn some interesting things about the Beforetime and Elspeth gets more hints of her destiny as the Seeker who must find and destroy the powerful machines that caused the Great White.
The biggest problem I had while reading this was that I kept wanting to stop and take a break because I was so worried about what might go wrong and what might happen to Elspeth. So I'm actually going to count that as a point in favour of the book, rather than one against it. She gets herself into all kinds of peril and for all that I knew she'd be back in the next book, I got myself quite worked up about what was happening to her. I can't quite put my finger on what it is about her that evokes that kind of reaction in me, but it's there. Maybe it's that she's just the kind of heroine I would have liked to daydream about being when I was about her age. Whatever it is, I love Elspeth and want everything to work out well for her.
Another plot that becomes significant in this book, is the role of animals in this new psychically gifted world. We already knew, from Obernewtyn, that there were Misfits that could speak to animals and Elspeth's cat friend, Maruman, was a significant character. The animals are every bit as intelligent as the humans - if with a different persepective on things - and in this book they begin to demand a place on the Obernewtyn council and a say in the future that is being built. It becomes clear in this chapter of the saga that the animals are going to be just as important to the future as the humans will, and that a lot of attitudinal changes will be needed on all sides.
There are a lot of plots and issues in this book - the political status of the Land, the mysteries of the Beforetime, Elspeth's destiny as the Seeker, the future of the beasts, the introduction of new characters and Misfit abilities, as well as the return of at least one old enemy - and, all in all, Carmody manages them well. This being a YA book, she doesn't have a huge number of pages to fit in everything, but nothing felt too dwelled upon or overly skimped.
I am looking forward to the next installment, Ashling, although I also remain worried about what awful things may happen to Elspeth before she can eventually triumph in 2010 when the last two books in the series will be published. I can't help it. I'm a wimpy reader.
Obernewtyn Chronicles, Book 2