“Amulet” took me on a journey.
Not a literal journey, obviously, and beginning with a cliché like that one is not something I do with much pride, but I guess some things become clichés because they already do such a fantastic job describing what you want them to. I guess when authors use them so often, they lose their impact.
I was swept out from under my feet by the tale of “Amulet”. Kazu Kibuishi’s (so-far) incomplete tale about evil elves, transfigured humans and a young girl’s quest to save everyone took my attention for a solid two days. Over this most recent school Winter Break, when I undertook The Great Amulet Quest, I completed reading all four books within that two days. I could have read all of them in one, but I force paced myself.
So, today, we wrap up Emily and Navin’s journey that has been published in volume 4, The Last Council, and then we see what the series offers as a whole and if you should be waiting in anticipation for the final chapter.
Volume 4: The Last Council
Emily, Navin, Leon, and a majority of their robot crew left their giant walking house long behind. To truly defeat and destroy the Elf King and save this alternate Earth that they have landed on, the crew seek out the help of the Stonekeeper’s Council. Far high up on the floating island city (floating island cities always make a good fantasy tale) of Cielis, where, according to legends, the great Stonekeeper Council had passed down laws and judgment long before the Elf King took over and ruined everyone’s life with a curse that turns all humans into talking animals.
As such, Emily is chosen to become a potentially new addition to the Stonekeeper’s Council, to help shape the world and decide the way it’s going to be once the Elf King is destroyed. Leading her through all this is a new friend, another young Stonekeeper named Max. His know-how and confidence is a complete reflection of Emily’s lack of confidence in her abilities and herself.
This type of childhood reflection touches on the very childlike themes that the entire series resonates, that these are very real children experiencing real emotions that actual children would feel.
Navin, Emily’s younger brother, ever the wanderer and explored, come to find the true dark secrets of Cielis and why the inhabitants never leave their home.
(Now, here’s an issue that I’ve always found with children’s books and overall appearance in shows aimed at youngsters in general. Yes, the focus of the story should be on the kids. Yes, adults come 2nd, but do they typically have to be portrayed in a ridiculous, almost stupid-fashion while the child is the smart, with-it one? I believe there can be a balance. Just a complaint.)
How does this relate to the book? Well, for reasons-not-explained-in-this-spoiler-free article, the adults of Cielis have become xenophobic shut-ins, rejecting everyone from outside of their city. So, why were Emily and her amulet-using ways summoned to the great city to be a part of the supposed Stonekeeper’s Council? What is rotten in the “holy city” of Cielis? What is Max hiding? And, more importantly for the inexperienced Emily and the naïve Navin to worry about, what has the Elf King been doing the entirety of this book?
So, there we have it. The Great Amulet Quest. Done and complete.
Now, I guess I need to ask myself what I believe I learned after reading almost 1,000 pages of fantasy filled, all-ages action and adventure.
Well, I guess the biggest point I had to keep in mind as I was reading was why so many of my students became hooked to the series? What spoke to them?
Author, Kazu Kibuishi, bring real life to these characters. In the entirety of the story that has been published so far not once did Emily really emanate strong feelings of confidence or leadership, which is interesting for a lead character. I suppose you could really break down some excellently written all-ages literature and find a slew of main characters that are never confident with themselves, and about a hundred others that ooze self-confidence and willpower.
Emily is a character easily relatable in that she is constantly forced in situations that she never thought she would find herself in or wished herself to be in. How many times are my students forced to do or go where they feel like they should but don’t ever want to?
What about Navin? His simple, naïve nature towards trying to help his friends and family and to do what is right creates a wonderful balance to the stories increasingly mature tones. Almost as if he’s letting himself be happy to create a barrier against the horrors of the world surrounding him and what it has in store for him.
Second: Plot Elements.
I know that mature plot points has always been a focus for The Great Amulet Quest, because I find it amazing that even though this series is considered all-ages, so many mature elements arise.
Whether it be the Elf King ordering his Lieutenant Luger to murder his son, Prince Trellis, should he fail to bring back Emily and Navin, all the way to the borderline psychologically off-putting discussions that Emily has with her amulet’s spirit. These conversations litter the stories, letting the reader gain some actual insight into a character’s thinking. These stories don’t have thought bubbles that let people know about these characters emotions, similar to the exposition filled ones of comics from the 1950’s.
No, the major plot points and events are a true mystery without any real character thinking for us to follow, and that makes it all the more exciting. Every new twist and turn, every new reveal that brings you deeper into this alternate, made it all the more exciting.
This plot was unafraid to shy away from the real world within its first few pages, with the tragic and sudden death of Emily and Navin’s father. It struck them faster than it did us, creating a sense that this story was going to be unlike anything we have ever read.
Would I recommend this series if a parent or teacher is looking for selections to fill their shelves?
Absolutely I would.
Who wouldn’t want a series, that all ages of readers can enjoy, that captivates young and old, as well as creating an unforgiving tale of tragedy and triumph in the face of the unknown? One that shows children for what they are, not what we expect them to be?
I can guarantee Amulet a permanent spot in the Mr. Acosta’s Class Library selection for an indefinite amount of time.
- In addition to writing for the column “Comic Matters” for the Tucson Citizen website, Bobby Acosta is also a 5th Grade Elementary school teacher, frequenter of local comic book shop Heroes & Villains, and explorer of the importance of comics. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org