Firedrake Lyceum – Year One
Full disclosure – I was provided copy of this book by the authors but have voluntarily provided a review. All opinions are my own
Ewan Pendle and the White Wraith is the first book in the Ewan Pendle series of books by Shaun Hume. Set in modern day United Kingdom, Ewan Pendle is an orphan who has been passed from foster home to foster home with never any luck of finding permanence. His newest family, the Does, as expected tire of Ewan, but instead of being sent to another nameless, faceless foster family Ewan finds himself on the train to London’s Firedrake Lyceum. After being greeted and escorted by the Grand Master of the Academy herself, Ewan settles in to the Lyceum for an eventful, thrilling and intrigue filled first year. As the year progresses, Ewan and his fellow misfit friends discover a plot to assassinate the queen that may involve fellow cadets and masters at the Lyceum. Ewan, Mathilde and Enid have their hands full as juggle a full training load while trying to determine who is behind the death threats to the monarch.
The book’s description likens Ewan Pendle to Harry Potter in similarity and at first glance they are similar. Like Harry, Ewan is an orphan who gets sent to a school for several years. At this point, the similarities end. Unlike Hogwarts where students are sorted into their houses on the first day, the cadets at the Lyceum live communally for a year and do not join one of the five cliques until the start of their second year. The various cliques, Stealth, Pyro, Vanguard, Martial and Witch each serve to hone specific talents and skills vital for the Vilmheid – the elite force sworn to protect the Queen. The Lyceum itself is vast and sprawling and each teacher is a master on their individual discipline. Obviously with any school setting, there are the bullies and the bad seeds to watch out for. Ewan Pendle has his hands full with the sinister Rosethorn twins, Scarlett and Sneath.
I really love the comradery that develops between Enid, Ewan and Mathilde. These three are outcasts and misfits all with their own secrets and problems to overcome. Enid, as the sole pirate cadet navigating the waters of Firedrake has a particularly difficult time. As pirates have been universally shunned, her character has very unique challenges to overcome. Thanks to Ewan and Mathilde, she doesn’t have to face them alone as the three make for a delightful trio of misfit friends that pretty much aren’t afraid of anything, including the dreaded White Wraith.
If you’re looking for something that is reminiscent of Harry Potter but is a different and completely brilliant story all in its own, I highly recommend Ewan Pendle and the White Wraith. I am sure that we have only scratched the surface at Firedrake Lyceum and am looking forward to Year Two when the trio gets accepted into their cliques. It will be interesting to see how interactions evolve or changes once the cliques come into play.