Book Review: Septimus Heap series

The Septimus Heap books are a young adult fantasy series written by Angie Sage.

septimus heapThe books follow the Magykal Heap family – parents and seven children – through the trials and tribulations of their life in The Castle.

The first book is about the origins of Septimus himself, separated from his family as a baby. Septimus as a character isn’t fully revealed until near the end of the book. It’s difficult to say too much here without giving spoilers! But here’s the blurb:

“The seventh son of the seventh son, aptly named Septimus Heap, is stolen the night he is born by a midwife who pronounces him dead. That same night, the baby’s father, Silas Heap, comes across a bundle in the snow containing a new born girl with violet eyes. The Heaps take this helpless newborn into their home, name her Jenna, and raise her as their own. But who is this mysterious baby girl, and what really happened to their beloved son Septimus?”

As the series progresses, Septimus becomes the apprentice of the Extraordinary Wizard, who is head of all the wizards and lives in the Wizard Tower. Septimus is close friends with the Princess-in-Waiting, Jenna, and also with one of the Manuscriptorium scribes, who goes by the name of Beetle.

This fantasy series contains many of my favourite fantasy elements: lots of magic, coming of age themes, dragons, secret passages and rooms, time travel, and a smidgen of light romance.

My favourite character is not Septimus or his friends, but his older brother Simon who has a difficult path in life. Simon turns to the Darke, drawn by jealousy and hatred, and ends up making life very difficult for himself. But his Mother and his fiancée never give up on him, despite his flaws. His transformation from Darke back to Magyk is compelling, and his relationship with Septimus is complex and deep.

Each book has a stand alone story to some extent, but it’s probably better to read the whole series in order, as certain elements build on things written in earlier books. If you can’t get into the first book, I would advise you to keep going because in my opinion the first book is not the best.

My favourite book of whole series is book six, Darke. A lot of character goals are achieved in this book and it has an epic feel to it.

The writing is omniscient and has a wide cast of characters. Many minor characters are explored in detail, and this helps you get to know a lot about the world and its inhabitants. Short epilogues at the end of each novel flesh out what happens to characters, and as someone who likes closure in a book, I find this satisfying.

As a series, I find this world really engrossing. Ms Sage has now started writing a new trilogy, focused on a different girl, but set in the same world, and we meet many of our friends again. The TodHunter Moon series is perhaps aimed at slightly younger readers than Septimus Heap, but it gives me further much needed doses of Septimus. I’m already looking forward to the third book in the trilogy, due out this year!



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