The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge

The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge

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The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge
Genre(s)
Age Range
10+
Release Date
September 25, 2018
ISBN
978-0763698225
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Uptight elfin historian Brangwain Spurge is on a mission: survive being catapulted across the mountains into goblin territory, deliver a priceless peace offering to their mysterious dark lord, and spy on the goblin kingdom — from which no elf has returned alive in more than a hundred years. Brangwain’s host, the goblin archivist Werfel, is delighted to show Brangwain around. They should be the best of friends, but a series of extraordinary double crosses, blunders, and cultural misunderstandings throws these two bumbling scholars into the middle of an international crisis that may spell death for them — and war for their nations. Witty mixed media illustrations show Brangwain’s furtive missives back to the elf kingdom, while Werfel’s determinedly unbiased narrative tells an entirely different story. A hilarious and biting social commentary that could only come from the likes of National Book Award winner M. T. Anderson and Newbery Honoree Eugene Yelchin, this tale is rife with thrilling action and visual humor . . . and a comic disparity that suggests the ultimate victor in a war is perhaps not who won the battles, but who gets to write the history.

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Overall rating 
 
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Plot 
 
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Characters 
 
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Writing Style 
 
5.0

A Masterpiece

Brangwain Spurge is an elfin historian on a mission: he's tasked with delivering a gift to the king of the goblins, and he's hoping to be the first elf to safely return from the goblin kingdom in over 100 years. His goblin host during the visit, Werfel, is a warm-hearted archivist, and Werfel takes his role as caretaker to the elf quite seriously.

As Werfel makes every attempt to expose Spurge to the finest aspects of goblin culture, Spurge responds by treating the goblins he meets with disdain and annoyance. Spurge is, in short, an elitist snob. As the two navigate their obligations to each other and to their communities, Spurge and Werfel both make choices that lead to many exciting moments.

THE ASSASSINATION OF BRANGWAIN SPURGE tells the amazing adventure of Werfel and Spurge through letters (from an elfin master spy to his king), pictures (Spurge's communications home during his travels), and the narrative (largely from Werfel's point of view). Although the combination could be a confusing way to relay a story, M.T. Anderson and Eugen Yelchin manage it masterfully, and BRANGWAIN SPURGE is a thoughtful adventure tale that challenges readers to think about the perils of incomplete/bad information and stereotypes. The beauty of the book is that it offers these important life lessons in an effortless manner that is both exciting and fun.

This book would be an excellent addition to any middle grade classroom, and I hope teachers and librarians work hard to get it into the hands of readers. It's the perfect combination of a book that allows for important conversations while being a truly entertaining tale.

My thanks to the publisher and YA Books Central for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.

Good Points
Covers important subject matter in a fun manner
Great illustrations that perfectly suit the text
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