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Review of TIGER'S BLOOD by Laurence Yep

by Becky Laney

Yep, Laurence. 2005. THE TIGER'S APPRENTICE: TIGER'S BLOOD. New York: HarperCollins. ISBN 0060010177.

Laurence Yep, winner of the 2005 Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal, continues the saga that was begun in THE TIGER'S APPRENTICE with the second in the trilogy TIGER'S BLOOD. In THE TIGER'S APPRENTICE, Tom, a young boy who has always felt "different" learns just how different he is when he's greeted at his front door by a tiger, Mr. Hu, who is visiting his grandmother. Unbeknownst to Tom, his grandmother is the Guardian of the Phoenix egg. The phoenix is very powerful and has the potential to either bring great peace to the world or to bring an end to the world. So it must be guarded very carefully. When enemies attack out of the blue, Mr. Hu and Tom become the new guardian and apprentice of the phoenix egg. (Tom's grandmother sacrifices her life to give the others time to escape.) But is there any place safe enough in San Francisco? in the world? Mr. Hu and Tom team up to save the world, and soon they are joined by various magical creatures: a rat named Sidney, a dragon named Mistral, and an ape named Monkey. Each of these magical creatures--including Mr. Hu--shift between their natural shapes and human disguises depending on the situation and locale. (In case anyone was wondering how this troupe of characters could walk down the streets of San Francisco without drawing attention to themselves.) Both THE TIGER'S APPRENTICE and TIGER'S BLOOD feature equal amounts of adventure, danger, and despair. In the first book, after fighting valiently against the enemy, Tom is severely wounded--in fact, he dies. However, Mr. Hu will not accept his loss. He strikes a bargain with a powerfully dangerous emperess--whose name can't even be mentioned without fear of terrible consequences--to save the boy's life by blending their souls and/or lives. Tom's life is saved, but Mr. Hu's weakened considerably. TIGER'S BLOOD begins with Tom and assorted friends planning their escape to the dragon kingdom under the sea. They hope that the dragons will fight along beside them to protect the phoenix egg to make sure it does not fall into the wrong hands. Without spoiling the plot of this gripping mythological adventure, TIGER'S BLOOD is full of plots, intrigues, doubts, and one adventure after another. When you hold the fate of the world in your hands, it's hard to know who to trust--even among your friends. Reminiscent of THE LORD OF THE RINGS, THE TIGER'S BLOOD is an exciting read combining mythology with the epic struggle of good and evil.

TIGER'S BLOOD is a sequel. But is it necessary for the reader to have read THE TIGER'S APPRENTICE before reading TIGER'S BLOOD? While I chose to seek out the first book so this one would "make sense", I do not think it is absolutely necessary. Yep sums up the key plot movements and character descriptions throughout the novel--particularly in the opening chapters. I would recommend reading both novels, however, simply because they make for a great read!

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