But she can never use them, not while the mysterious, vicious Dragonlord hunts down all those in her land with zodiac powers. Instead, she must keep her abilities—and those of her rambunctious sister Uma—a secret.
After Uma is captured by the Dragonguard, Usagi can no longer ignore her powers. She must journey to Mount Jade with the fabled Heirs of the Twelve, a mystical group of warriors who once protected the land.
As new mysteries unfold, Usagi must decide who she stands with, and who she trusts, as she takes on deadly foes on her path to the elusive, dangerous Dragonlord himself.
Animorphs in Ancient Asia
Usagi lives in a world where some children are born with extraordinary powers, either ones that are animal like qualities or work with the elements. She lives with her younger sister Uma and friend Toma, since her parents were killed when the Dragonlord took over and outlawed anyone with powers. Times are very hard, and the children survive by stealing food and trading it for necessities through Aunt Bobo. When they bring her some rice to trade, they watch a performance by musicians, and Aunt Bobo's young son Jago floats up into the air. The soliders capture him, and eventually get Toma and Uma as well. Usagi needs to get her sister and friend back, and when she comes across bandits Saru and Nezu, she joins forces with them. They are descendants of The Twelve, Warrior Heirs, and live on Mount Jade where they are trained by the Tigress and are attempting to gather the Twelve Treasures and keep them safe from the Dragonlord. Usagi has to undergo some trials before she can even be allowed onto Mount Jade, and must then go through extensive training before she and the Warrior Heirs can infiltrate the training site where her sister is held. Getting to the city is difficult, and when the group finally makes it into the training facility, Usagi finds that her sister and friend are enjoying living there and are angry at Usagi for abandoning them. Will Usagi and the other Warrior Heirs be able to rescue the children being trained from being sacrificed instead, and will the Dragonlord be allowed to continue his reign of terror?
There are lots of details about the powers that the children have, and the world building is solid. I liked that the children had a quest that involved finding treasures, and that they make it to the training facility without having to travel through underground caverns! (There have been a lot of those in fantasy books lately!) It would have added an extra layer of interest to have more details about life in ancient China, and maybe an idea of a time frame for the setting. (You can tell I'm more interested in historical fiction than in fantasy!)
I enjoyed this one so much that I gave the ARC to a student who was walking his dog past my house, because I knew he was a big Rick Riordan fan! This will be popular with readers who like the Rick Riordan Presents books as well as newer titles like Silver Batal and the Water Dragon Races that have a good mix of different cultural setting, creative fantasy powers, and intriguing characters.