The Duke’s Wrath by Annette Oppenlander


The Duke’s Wrath by Annette Oppenlander
Escape from the Past Book 1
Publisher: Lodestone Books
Genre: Young Adult, Historical, Time Travel
Length: Full (299 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Rated: 4.5 stars
Review by Snapdragon

When fifteen-year-old nerd and gamer Max Anderson thinks he’s sneaking a preview of an unpublished video game, he doesn’t realize that 1) He’s been chosen as a beta, an experimental test player. 2) He’s playing the ultimate history game, transporting him into the actual past: anywhere and anytime. And 3) Survival is optional: to return home he must decipher the game’s rules and complete its missions—if he lives long enough. To fail means to stay in the past—forever. Now Max is trapped in medieval Germany, unprepared and clueless. It is 1471 and he quickly learns that being an outcast may cost him his head. Especially after rescuing a beautiful peasant girl from a deadly infection and thus provoking sinister wannabe Duke Ott. Overnight he is dragged into a hornets’ nest of feuding lords who will stop at nothing to bring down the conjuring stranger in their midst.

The Duke’s Wrath, book one in the Escape from the Past series, kicks off with an engaging character and an increasingly puzzling event.

Although events quickly and almost logically occur, they are completely unpredictable. Main character Max indeed lands, as he puts in, “in the middle of a downtrodden life”.

Interestingly, he doesn’t really know why he is there. His viewpoint might help his new friends, but it doesn’t appear to be doing much to help him! Reader’s concerns are usually mirrored by Max’s, so his comments and concerns seem logical. He is often motivated by kindness, so he has our sympathies from the start. Ultimately, his mission becomes clear to him.

Without wasting a moment, Ms. Oppenlander manages to give a sense of the backdrop in every situation. From the living quarters shared with spiders at the start to puzzling first appearance of the village of Bornhagen, and the lifestyle therein, details contribute a wonderful overall picture. It all has a rather medieval feel, although from the perspective of the future. Hiking the hills was especially visual and well-done. Interaction with the various people and events are entirely unpredictable.

Occasional complexity boggles the mind and reades’ will find themselves re-reading the odd happening to really grasp what happened. Also, some of the dangers threatened have rather an adult theme.  Such violence is likely common in teen reads these days, but it’s worth mentioning.

Readers of time travel and the fantastical in general will enjoy.

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