Will Stanton, seventh son of a seventh son, wakes on his eleventh birthday to discover that he is the last of the “Old Ones”, destined to aid “The Light” in protecting the world against “The Dark”. In this, his first quest, Will must find the “six signs”, hidden for safekeeping by the Old Ones themselves. As part of the quest, he must acquire the learning and wisdom of the Old Ones. The Dark are all the time trying to prevent him from succeeding in his quest for the “Circle of Signs” which will assist The Light in this critical battle.

Although second in the series, it is this book which really sets the scene for the reader. Good and Evil are personified in the Old Ones and the Lords of the Dark. Religion is sidelined as something which gives men rise to consider matters of Good and Evil, and is treated merely as a focal point for these two warring factions. The Old Ones and The Dark both use some form of magic or power to control certain things, but its use is restrained and understated throughout. Will has to live a double life, at once an ordinary son of an ordinary jeweller and one of the Old Ones on a quest for the Circle of Signs. It is the way in which he manages this balance which helps the book so much. His family is very close, with children from Steven down to Will, the youngest and Seventh Son. Music plays an undefined but important part in the story; Will himself is an accomplished chorister, and the rest of the family has various musical talents. The doors which the Old Ones use to move through time have a haunting melody attached to them, and several other moments are made more special by the use of music. It is one of the things which brings this book a little above the run-of-the-mill boy-with-special-powers story.

Tim Golden is a computer programmer in London.  He is also the editor of the Good-to-Read website.