Sunday, July 10, 2022

Archibald Lox and the Legion of the Lost by Darren Shan


"I look deep into those eyes--those warm, wise, friendly eyes, which won me over the first day I set foot in the Merge--and can't say no. She's guarded and instructed me to the best of her abilities while I've been here. Inez is the closest friend I've ever had, and I know she wouldn't ask this of me if there was any other choice.

'It's been a ride, hasn't it?' I smile.

'There'll be other rides in spheres beyond this one,' she says."

  Everything from the moment Archie stumbled across the Bridge Between Worlds has led to this point. Every lock he's picked, every friend he's made, every set of walls that have closed in on him--from kidnapped princes to rescued princesses, from mad kings to devious empresses--has led us to this: Archibald Lox and the Legion of the Lost, the ninth and final story in the Archibald Lox series.
  I do not say this lightly... This is one epic book. 
  From the moment we pick up from book 8, the Pick of Loxes, to the moment I tearfully tapped my phone to access the last page, I was enthralled. Utterly and completely enthralled. I was surrendering work, television, socializing time, and other books to just read 
  The brilliance of this conclusion I have no doubt, stems from the attachment Darren Shan has built between his readers and his characters. Like a speeding car desperately slamming on the brakes, I realized too late that there was no stopping. The acceptance that this book was going to end before I was ready was inevitable. I tried to slow down my pace, to savor the story before its end, but I couldn't stop clicking to get to the next page. I was tearing holes in my bottom lip from tension, fretting over just what Darren Shan had in store for these characters I'd grown to consider family. 
  Oh, this book. This book is a masterpiece with a "coming of age, fantasy novel" label. If installments 1-6 are the thrilling anticipation of climbing the long climb up a rollercoaster, 7 & 8 are the twisty, turning (or "Tourney"), speeding, whips and tosses up and down, left and right, and book 9 is the out-of-breath, euphoric, dizzying reminder of why you got on in the first place. Archibald Lox and the Legion of the Lost, in fact, Volume 3 as a whole, is the very epitome of the phrase, "saving the best for last." 
  Darren Shan has, once again, done what he does best; deliver an epic ending to an epic book series.
  Through his words, I was transported into Archie and Inez's shoes, facing the same dangers they were facing. Finding myself in predicaments that only miracles of the Merge can solve. And when his readers reach that all-too-familiar, classically Shan, "aha" climax of the series... Well. Let's just hope they handle it better than me. Darren Shan is notorious for messing with my head and permanently scarring my emotions in the best way possible, and thanks to the Legion of the Lost, the saga of Archibald Lox is no exception. I have a pile of drying, snotty tissues that can attest to this.
  I hope you, whoever's reading this, will take a chance on Archie and his venture into the Merge. I am so grateful I did, and I am even more grateful to Darren Shan for providing this humble reviewer the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have a peek through the boreholes before the rest of the world. Archie's story is one that will forever hold a special place in my heart, and hold permanent residence in my head. 
  I won't say goodbye to my fictional friends, because that's not what's done in the Merge. So, here's to this sphere, and, to paraphrase our favorite camel, to the "rides in the spheres beyond this one."