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Fugitives of Chaos    by John C. Wright order for
Fugitives of Chaos
by John C. Wright
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2006 (2006)

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

This sequel to Orphans of Chaos opens on five adolescents - Amelia, Vanity, Colin, Quentin and Victor - recovering from illness and amnesia in some sort of British boarding school (which has only the five pupils), where they have been kept in isolation through their childhoods. Of course, nothing is as it seems - and though they are continually spied upon, in conventional and extra-dimensional ways - Amelia leads the others in an attempt to recover their memories and escape from the school that is really a prison.

Amelia tells us of supposed headmaster, Boggin, that 'he thought I had forgotten he was a god, one of several involved in some sort of deadly struggle, between factions vying for control of the throne of heaven.' The youngsters are hostages in the struggle between Cosmos and Chaos, but intend to become more than pawns, and to find their true homes and families. In addition to their memories, they need to recover their powers - which appear to be balanced by the abilities of their teachers/jailers. They set up complex and subtle methods to avoid (mundane and magical) surveillance.

They finally complete their arrangements and flee the school grounds, fending off attacks along the way. But then Grendel Glum carries off Amelia, intending her to be his undersea bride and live under his cruel rule forever. He shares the sad stories of the deaths of many of his siblings at the hands of heroes like Hercules and Oedipus, and of the grief of his Mom, Echidna. Although he arouses Amelia's pity, she has other plans for her life and manages to escape, helped by an eagle. The five reunite, join the Queen Elizabeth II cruise ship, consider their limited options, and wait for the inevitable attack of their enemies.

A quote on the back cover calls the series 'almost pointlessly erudite fantasy' and said erudition significantly slows down the story, especially at the beginning. Though I did enjoy spending time with the five super-powered students (especially the narrator, Amelia), I would only recommend the series to those who like a complex mythological underpinning to their fantasy, and who have read Orphans of Chaos first. This episode ends on a cliffhanger, and the trilogy will conclude with Titans of Chaos.

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