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14 August, 2008

Book Review: Escape the Mask by David Ward

Coriko and his partner Pippa are slaves to the Spears. The children are Twosies, children who have lived in the grasslands and worked at finding the shards that the Spears want mined from the sands for many years. Coriko – who doesn’t remember a life outside of captivity relies on Pippa for friendship and support as they struggle through each day trying to meet the gather quotas and keep from angering the Spear guards and the punishment that comes afterwards.

However, they find their life changing slowly when two newcomers are captured and brought to the grasslands who speak the same language as Pippa and Coriko. They bring news of unrest in the outside world, and the possibility of war. When the Spears suddenly start changing their gathering totals for the day, and are attacked by enemy archers inside the grasslands, the four friends team together with two other slave children to try and survive. The violence towards the Spears increases and the children find themselves looking for ways to free the other slaves, escape from the cave complex that they are kept in, and get past both the Spears and the attacking soldiers.

Escape the mask is the first book in The Grasslands Trilogy. The story explores the idea of freedom. Coriko and his friends find themselves free from the torture and cruelty of their captors, and faced with freedom from the slavery that was the life they were accustomed to. After they find freedom, each child has the opportunity to discover more about themselves, and who they are. They grow from slaves with no identity to individuals with very distinct strengths and weaknesses. I found the story engaging. I enjoyed watching the six children grow as they found strength together to break free from imprisonment and discover who each person is.

This is a great introduction to a new series, and I am looking forward to reading the next book when it is published.

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