Eric Westergard’s Soul Scepter is an ambitious, YA, historical adventure novel with science fiction elements.
Because of his father’s act of terrorism, Will Donovan has been bullied his whole life. When a paramilitary organization tries to kidnap Will’s uncle, a scientist examining a mysterious alien weapon, Will and his friends, along with the villains, are transported back in time to medieval England. There, Will must stop the criminals from using their modern weapons to seize power and change history, while also learning more about his family’s strange connection to the alien device.
The novel is full of action right from the start, beginning with Will’s bullies attacking him at a paintball competition that quickly grows vicious. Highly athletic and skilled in military tactics, Will handles himself well throughout the adventure; even when injured during the medieval period, he manages to escape his attackers. And yet the odds he faces are strong enough to keep the suspense high, with the villains even teaming up with King Edward III.
The historical details feel accurate, with the distance and accuracy of longbows tested against automatic rifles, and the dangers of wound infection in a time before antibiotics are portrayed well. Indeed, the modern characters reflect on how the forthcoming Black Death will wipe out half of Europe, including many of their medieval comrades.
Will is an endearing character. Angry at the world for blaming him for his father’s actions, he still fights to save it, even against impossible odds. And when his friend Celeste agrees to marry the son of a noble in exchange for his helping them, Will risks his life to save her.
The novel, the first in a planned series, gives much exposition about the alien weapon, its connection to Will’s family, and Will’s father; this might have been best saved for future installments. Still, young adults looking for an exciting read, with a sympathetic character and an unusual situation, will enjoy Soul Scepter.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.