Kidnapped children, with no common language...
Forced to scavenge sharp shards from the sand or go into their cages hungry at night...
Trapped in Grassland's caves and tunnels by the tides, with no chance to escape from the armed men wearing helmets that cover everything but their eyes.
Perhaps there's a way to escape? Six young friends hatch a plan that just might work...
Set in a time reminiscent of Europe's Bronze Era, this fast-reading adventure is first in the Grassland trilogy by Canadian author David Ward. Followed by Beneath the Mask (#2) and Beyond the Mask (#3) - be sure to read Escape the Mask first!
Book info: Escape the Mask / David Ward. Amulet, 2008 hardback, 2009 paperback. [author's website] [author interview] [publisher site]
Recommendation: Stolen as children from their villages, young Diggers slave to find ‘shards’ in the sands for the Spears who guard them, men in metal helmet-masks who let the sea tides capture the weak or the slow. The Grassland is scoured nightly by the cold fury of the sea while the Diggers sleep uneasy above it, in the cave-prisons of the mountain cliffs that prevent their escape.
Coriko works and sleeps alongside Pippa, the only other Digger who knows his village language. Pippa can remember trees and her mother; Coriko has no memories beyond this endless drudgery of sift, dig, tote. They pledge to stay together, somehow, through the great Separation when the older Diggers are taken from Grassland…somehow.
New Diggers arrive frequently, since not many survive the First Cleansing of the highest tide. This time, two newcomers speak the language of Pippa and Coriko! Tia and Bran think only of escape… but who can escape the Spears or the prison of the Grassland?
When strange ships appear on the horizon, the Spears cut the Diggers’ food ration, demand more shards, and watch the sea anxiously. Could Tia and Bran be more than dreamers? Can the Diggers escape from Grassland?
This fast-moving, action-packed book is first in The Grassland Trilogy – be sure you can get your hands on Book Two: Beneath the Mask! You’ll be hungry to find out what happens next!! (One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com) Review copy courtesy of the publisher.