The Far West
By Patricia C. Wrede
Scholastic Press, 2012
The Far West is the third novel in the children's/young adult Frontier Magic series. They are best enjoyed when read in the correct order, so if you have not yet read the previous books, you should start with Thirteenth Child.
Eff is back on the safe side of the great barrier, and perhaps feeling a bit aimless. She's past twenty, and her sisters, not to mention a few boys, think that she should be getting married and settling down. Her job at the university is interesting, but isn't really a course of study, and isn't the sort of thing one builds a career out of. What she really wants, whether she is willing to admit it or not, is to go back across the Great Barrier, and explore the far west.
This is the third book in a fairly well developed series, and Wrede is pretty certain of her fan base -- if they've read this far, they are interested in the world, its magic systems, and the details of Eff's life. So there is a good bit of slow and sometimes cumbersome development, which would be tiresome if Eff and her world weren't so interesting. We get to see a new wildlife center being built on the far side of the river, careful experiments on the remains of the mysterious medusa (and her eggs), some real live Cathayan magic, some more mysterious Aphrikan magic, and a good amount of pestering and annoyance from Eff's family. However, eventually she does get invited to join an expedition west, and moreover, the expedition: a group of 30 scientists, surveyors, and military folk setting out west for at least a couple years, hoping to succeed where Lewis and Clark failed -- and perhaps even find out what happened to that expedition. And, as you might expect, Lan, William, Professor Torgeson, Wash, and Professor Ochiba all join the expedition, along with some new faces, giving us a fairly rich cast of characters.
While for the most part this is not an exciting adventure, it is well in-line with the earlier books, and if you enjoyed them I expect that you will enjoy this one. This is the last book in the series, and wraps things up fairly satisfactorily, if perhaps with a bit of a rush at the end. That said, there is certainly room left for further novels if Wrede feels so inclined.
Accelerated Reader level: 6.5