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Antiquitas Lost: The Last of the Shamalans    by Robert Louis Smith & Geof Isherwood order for
Antiquitas Lost
by Robert Louis Smith
Order:  USA  Can
Medlock, 2011 (2011)
* *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

In today's paranormal-obsessed entertainment society, traditional epic fantasy has been pushed aside, especially in the YA market. Robert Louis Smith tries to rectify this with Antiquitas Lost: The Last of the Shamalans. And to add something new to the genre, each chapter contains a highly detailed illustration from Geof Isherwood of Marvel Comics fame.

Elliot has always felt like he didn't belong, and feels even more so after he and his sick mother have to move to New Orleans to stay with his grandfather, a man he never knew existed. He has only been living there a few weeks when the taunts start, this time not just aimed at the strange stripes on the back of his hands but also at his eccentric grandfather. Whether his grandfather really is crazy or not, Elliot has yet to determine, but he does have some interesting stories about their family.

Things become really odd when he sends Elliot way down into the cellar to look at some artifacts - and Elliot finds himself in a different world, the world of Pangrelor. This world is populated by a variety of different races, the most rarest being the Shamalans. Only one is known to exist, the princess who has recently been kidnapped. However, there is a surprise in store for Elliot and Pangrelor: Elliot is a Shamalan, too. When a Big Foot-type being tells Elliot and his two new gimlet friends about a third, they set off to find it. But Pangrelor is in the midst of a devastating war for power and Elliot soons finds himself involved ... and actions in Pangrelor can possibly affect things in the real world.

Smith has created a very in depth fantasy world filled with a plethora of varied creatures, many of whom the reader gets to know. Surprisingly, it is easy to keep all of these characters straight, but focusing just on one would have kept the story moving faster and possibly have condensed this large tome. However, this would have resulted in a less articulated world, so it ended up being sort of a catch twenty-two. The rich, detailed fantasy world is a major plus, but the length it creates is a detraction, especially for teens in our fast-paced, sound-byte society.

Aside from Smith's narrative, the other thing that helps to bring Pangrelor to life are Isherwood's illustrations. As there are so many, it can feel at times like the Great Illustrated Classics series, but these pictures are so much more meticulous and serve to enhance the story rather than get kids interested in reading.

Antiquitas Lost: The Last of the Shamalans is a fair shot at the epic fantasy genre. Teen boys inclined to read will become immersed in Robert Louis Smith's work, but some readers will be put off due to the sheer length.

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