Sword of Waters, by Hilari Bell, was published in 2007 by Simon & Schuster. It is the sequel to Shield of Stars.
Arisa isn’t certain how to respond when her mother, the Falcon, formerly a dangerous bandit but now lord commander of the army and navy of Deorthas, entrusts her with this extremely special mission. Everything changed for Arisa when she and her friend Weasel stumbled upon the ancient shield rumored to bestow power upon whoever holds it. With the shield, the Falcon was able to gain her new station, bringing Arisa into a world of royalty Arisa isn’t even sure she enjoys. Now the Falcon wants Arisa to get close to young Prince Edoran, and join with Edoran and Weasel to search for the legendary sword that matches the shield. As Arisa’s search progresses, however, she realizes she may be in danger from a deadly stranger. Worse—she and her friends may be in even graver danger from someone they know all too well!
I’m not quite sure what to make of Sword of Waters. I didn’t find it as interesting or as charming as Shield of Stars, and I had too many problems with the plot and with the characters to really enjoy it. I thought it was a decent follower to the first book, but it didn’t improve on anything.
I thought the plot dragged in the middle, especially since at the beginning of the book Arisa promises her mother that she’ll find the sword and then spends most of the rest of the book going to class, bickering with Edoran, and not even thinking about the sword at all until the last third of the book when the plot demands that it be found.
Probably some of my disinterest in the book was Arisa, who was annoying. She’s the sort of character who thinks she’s in the right and will scoff at everybody else but is so completely wrong that it’s frustrating. I hated her stubbornness, her rashness, and most of how she treated Edoran, especially at the end when the poor guy is trying to get some good suggestions out and Arisa keeps interrupting him and calling him an idiot. And then she goes off and takes the sword and shield at the end, whereupon I almost started yelling at a book.
I still found the book endearing, for the most part, and even though I didn’t really like Arisa I did like most of her interactions with other people. I found it rather telling that Arisa refers to her mother as “the Falcon” rather than as, you know, “Mother.” And I really like Edoran and I’m looking forward to having his viewpoint in the next book.
I do wish, though, that all this confusion about whether or not the sword and shield are magical would have been cleared up. So far they just seem like antiques with a symbolic history, which is okay, I guess, but it doesn’t really match how people view them.
Recommended Age Range: 12+
Warnings: Some small violence.
Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade
“The old priests gave the sword, the shield, and the crown of earth to Deor’s heir, after his death,” Edoran told them. “That’s him. King Brend.”
“He’s not very happy,” said Arisa, looking at the painted man’s eyes. “Why doesn’t he hold the sword and shield? And if he was given a crown, why isn’t he wearing it?”
“I don’t know, and I don’t know,” Edoran told her. “But my father wondered about that too. All the legends agree that Brend was given the crown of earth, in exchange for his father’s sacrifice, but my father thought it must have been lost long ago, because there’s no mention anywhere of what it looked like. The sword and shield are the real ones, since they were still around when these portraits were painted.”