Ideas for Learners Promoting Literacy, Inquiry, and Meaningful Learning Experiences
River Secrets by Shannon Hale
The Books of Bayern series

Book Summary

This book belongs to the Books of Bayern series. River Secrets tells the story of Razo, the forest boy who assisted a hidden princess in The Goose Girl, and a girl who can use fire in Enna Burning. This adventure takes Razo to the capital of Tira, where recent war with Bayern has left relations tense between the two countries.  In the company of excellent swordsmen, Razo doubts his value and skill, and gradually learns to believe that he has more to offer than jokes and a constant willingness to eat.

Someone is playing with fire. Has Enna lost control again? Is it Dasha, the noble Tiran girl whose nose crinkles when Razo makes her laugh? Is it Tumas, the bully brute who never hesitates to abuse him? If the burned bodies are discovered by the Tiran council, they will vote to declare war on Bayern. Part mystery, part inventive historical fiction, part adventure, and part fantasy, this book has appeal for different kinds of readers.

This book is part of the Books of Bayern set, and, although each title can be read independently in any order, this book is most closely connected to Enna Burning.
River Secrets book cover
River Secrets

Book Review

Razo is a likable protagonist, and we get to see some characters from previous Bayern books, but the new friends and villains are not incredibly compelling. The writing in this book sounds more natural than it does in Enna Burning, but it is not as solid as it is in The Goose Girl, The Princess Academy, or The Book of a Thousand Days. While the fantasy element of fire, water, and wind movers is intended to drive the plot, it is less interesting than Razo's journey to overcome a childhood of put-downs at the hands of his older brothers.

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The best any of his brothers ever said was that he did not stink as sour as their third eldest brother."  p. 180

Topics and Themes for this book:

  • Political Intrigue
  • Self-Sufficiency; Independence
  • Competition Between Siblings
  • Trust, Loyalty
  • Proving Yourself

Discussion Questions for this book:

The best discussion questions, of course, are generated by and contemplated by readers. These questions are designed to avoid major spoilers about the book, and to provide a starting point for teachers, parents, and student reading groups.

**Questions coming soon**

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