Book 91: Diadem 10: Book of Doom

Book of DoomDiadem #10: Book of Doom, by John Peel

Hopefully this won’t be the last Diadem book, as Peel while Peel answers some questions, he also asks a bunch of new ones. I was a little sad when I finished this book, because I know that my questions won’t be answered for a while. Peel’s website promises the next two in the series will be published together, hopefully in 2010.

When Oracle and Shanara betray Score, Helaine, and Pixel, the two are trying to prevent the trio from turning into the Three Who Rule. Score is sent to a world of killer plants. Helaine is trapped on Calomir, a prisoner of the Overmind computer. Pixel is a captive in his own mind, with his body possessed by his evil self, Nantor. Jenna shows her worth when she does all she can to rescue her new friends.

The strengths of each character shine, and I was flying through the pages to see what happened next. The history on Shanara shocked me, and while I saw some of it coming, I definitely didn’t see all the twists Peel had up his sleeve.


Book 89: Diadem 9: Book of Reality

Book of RealityDiadem #9: Book of Reality, by John Peel

It’s Pixel’s turn to return to his home planet of Calomir, a world where the citizens live in Virtual Reality. Pixel wants to introduce his girlfriend and fellow magic-user Jenna, to his parents.

Only…there’s one little problem with that. When the gang arrives on Calomir, they learn that Pixel’s parents are missing. When they start to search for the missing adults, the four are soon split up and in dire straits. Jenna and Pixel are captured by the Overmind, a computer virus that’s taken over the planet, and Score and Helaine are sent to the slave camps.

I really really enjoyed “Book of Reality.” The idea of the Overmind was pretty interesting, and a little scary too.

As is his usual, Peel ends this book on a cliffhanger, and wow! I rushed for the next book to see what would happen next, because I definitely didn’t see the plot twist coming.


Book 86: Diadem 8: Book of Oceans

Book of OceansDiadem #8: Book of Oceans, by John Peel

Score and Pixel are two boys trapped between feuding females, and they definitely need a break. With Oracle’s help, they convince Helaine and Jenna that it’s time to take a vacation, and the four set off for Brine. A planet made up of mostly oceans, Brine seems like the perfect world for a peaceful getaway…until their vacation is interrupted by pirates!

When Pixel and Jenna taken captive, Score must work with Helaine to rescue the other magic users. But Helaine isn’t a fan of Jenna, since Helaine was a noble and Jenna a peasant on their old homeworld. Peel uses the the girls to get young readers to think about social class prejudices. With an interesting mix of species, including living flames and human-shaped dolphins, “Book of Oceans” is another fun installment in the Diadem series, and one I rather enjoyed.

Finally, readers are clued into the method behind Oracle’s madness. Always popping up to send the friends into trouble, Oracle is actually trying to prevent the three from becoming the evil forms of themselves they defeated in previous Diadem books. The author adds to Oracle’s mystery, and I’m eager to learn more. I also liked Jenna more in this book, and didn’t begrudge Peel adding in another main character so far into the series.


Book 85: Diadem 7: Book of War

Book of WarDiadem #7: Book of War, by John Peel

In “Book of War,” it’s Helaine’s turn to return to her home planet of Ordin. After having escaped an arranged marriage on a Medieval Ages era world, Helaine Votrin suffered from the guilt of abandoning her family and her duty. Score and Pixel accompany her back home, and naturally the three pop into a dangerous situation: Votrin castle is under siege; war is imminent.

Feeling even guiltier now for leaving, Helaine is determined to do what she can to resolve the situation. She and Score set off on her secret plan, while Pixel attempts to solve a 500-year-old mystery.

For the first time in the Diadem series, Peel introduces a new main character, Jenna, a peasant hedge-witch. She is revealed to be another magician with powers matching that of Score, Helaine, and Pixel, and now the trio becomes a quartet.

For me, “Book of War” is one of the weaker books in the Diadem series. I didn’t particularly like the addition of a new main character, nor the more prominent romance, but after I read the next book in the series I understood why she was brought in. So if you’re like me and didn’t like Jenna at first, it gets better, so hang in there.


Book 84: Diadem 6: Book of Nightmares

Book of NightmaresDiadem #6: Book of Nightmares, by John Peel

Pixel’s been kidnapped by Destiny and taken to a planet where nightmares become real, a world where if you fall asleep you are lost forever. Score and Helaine, already tired from the attempt on Score’s life in “Book of Earth,” immediately rush to the planet to save Pixel…but they’re in for a constant fight between forces of the planet and their own tiredness.

On a world where bad dreams come true, each must face their own darkest nightmares. However, the key to surviving Zarathon also lies in their dreams, if they can figure out the various puzzles.

For many years, “Book of Nightmares” was the last available Diadem book, and is one of the few to not end on a cliffhanger. If you, and/or your kids love this series, fear not because now there are four new Diadem books for your reading pleasure. But, I have to admit, it is nice to finally see the trio get a rest at the end of this book.


Book 83: Diadem 5: Book of Earth

Book of EarthDiadem #5: Book of Earth, by John Peel

Back on Earth for the first time since escaping in the first Diadem novel, Score’s not really able to enjoy his home planet – he and his friends are on a desperate mission to save his life. Someone on Earth has a necklace that belonged to Score’s mother and is using it to drain away his life.

Helaine and Pixel are out of their element on Earth, but they don’t let that stop them from doing everything they can to help Score. They met Destiny, a girl with magic powers of her own, and a secret past connected to the Three Who Ruled. Peel starts a new story line with Destiny, and a new idea that evil doesn’t always look evil.

As usual, Peel ends on a cliffhanger, leaving you rushing to read the next Diadem book. My chief complaint is that action happens super fast, and in this book you realize the events of the previous four books have taken less than a week, which is just a little too rushed for me. But otherwise, a fun story.


Book 82: Diadem 4: Book of Thunder

Book of ThunderDiadem #4: Book of Thunder, by John Peel

Fresh from their defeat of Sarman, the evil magician who tried to take over the worlds of the Diadem, Score, Helaine, and Pixel are thrust into another adventure when their unicorn friends are targeted by a deadly enemy. For the first time, the powerful trio is split up, as Score and Pixel try to solve the puzzle of missing unicorn, and Helaine stays behind to spy on the herd.

Another good entry in the Diadem series, “Book of Thunder” continues the theme of evil being found on most of the worlds in the Diadem. As the most powerful magicians in the universe, Score, Helaine, and Pixel are the only ones strong enough to root out the different types of evil. Also present is how the power of friendship and loyalty, and the want to do the right thing, can triumph.


Book 81: Diadem 3: Book of Magic

Book of MagicDiadem #3: Book of Magic, by John Peel

Now on Dondar, a planet very close to the inner Diadem, Score, Helaine, and Pixel know that they are close to the end of their journey. Soon they will find out why they are being trained as weapons and herded to the center of the Diadem.

On Dondar, they encounter the ultimate of fantasy creatures: unicorns. The unicorns are extremely distrusting of humans, since most magic users want them just for their horns, but the trio manages to gain the trust of the unicorn herd.

The first half of the book is taken up with defeating Dondar’s warlord magician, and the second half focuses on the shadowy enemy mentioned in the first two books of the series. Score, Helaine, and Pixel finally learn who they are, why they were sent from their home worlds, and who has left them the various puzzles they’ve found in their travels.

The ending of this first adventure is a little anticlimactic, as the battle doesn’t live up to it being foreshadowed for three books, but it’s a satisfactory resolution. Peel ends this book on another cliffhanger, as he sends the trio on a new adventure with their newest friends, the unicorns.


Book 80: Diadem 2: Book of Signs

Book of SignsDiadem #2: Book of Signs, by John Peel

“Book of Signs” continues the adventures of Score, Helaine, and Pixel, who were first introduced in “Diadem #1: Book of Names.” Having defeated their first enemy, the trio has traveled to another world in the Diadem, the world of Rawn.

On Rawn, they encounter some of the typical races who inhabit fantasy lands: goblins, trolls, and centaurs. The three are still learning to work together and how to use their magic powers, including the use of gemstones to augment their abilities. They learn the power of teamwork as they journey through Rawn, intent on finding the sorceress of the world.

The story is a little simplistic at times, but granted, this series is aimed at younger readers in the 9-12 range. I think what’s great about the Diadem series is that it promotes working together, rationality, intelligence, and tolerance as Score, Helaine, and Pixel befriend the goblins, which benefits them much more than if they had tried to kill the goblins.

If you’re an adult or teenager checking out the Diadem series, I recommend you read the first three books all together, as they are a larger story and each ends in a cliffhanger.


Book 79: Diadem 1: Book of Names

Book of NamesDiadem #1: Book of Names, by John Peel

“Book of Names” introduces readers to the three heroes of Peel’s Diadem series: Score, Helaine, and Pixel. Score’s from Earth, a street kid raised in New York. Helaine masquerades as Renald, a warrior boy from the medieval Ordin. Pixel’s from futuristic Calomir, where people live in Virtual Reality and don’t have real lives.

Each of these three kids is unique on their own worlds in that they are magic users, only they don’t know it. They join forces on the world of Treen, after escaping dangerous situations on their home worlds. The three form an uneasy partnership as they try to navigate learning magic.

Peel creates a unique universe where the planets are in rings, and the closer a planet is to the inner ring, the stronger the magic on the planet is. He mixes puzzles into the text, as a form of mysterious help for the trio, which would be great for kids reading with their parents.

I first discovered the Diadem series back when it was first published in 1997, and enjoyed them very much. Now rereading them in my 20s, I see a few niggling problems, but for the most part I enjoyed them just as much as I did when I was younger. I think these are the perfect books for parents who want to get their kids into reading, due to the puzzles and language tricks that are part of the magic.