Sign of the Shapeshifter is the third book in the Knights of the Silver Dragon series for Wizards of the Coast's Mirrorstone imprint. Wizards of the Coast is best known as the makers of the enormously popular "Magic: The Gathering" collectible card game and the "Dungeons & Dragons" role-playing game. In 2004 Wizards moved into the realm of juvenile and teen fiction with the announcement of their Mirrorstone imprint. For the first two series under the Mirrorstone banner, they decided to stick with two subjects that they know very well: Dragonlance and Dungeons & Dragons.
The Knights of the Silver Dragon series is aimed at readers 8 - 12 years in age. They relate the exploits of three young heroes in the town of Curston. Kellach, is the teenaged apprentice to the town's most powerful wizard, Zendric. Kellach's brother, Driskoll, is an adventurous 12 year old who dreams of becoming a great warrior like his father Torin, and they are joined by their friend Moyra, a young female thief and daughter to one of Curston's most well known thieves, Breddo.
The town of Curston has been plagued by a series of thefts and vandalism and is growing restless as The Watchers, the town's guard, seems unable to solve the crimes. Soon after a major fire threatens to burn down several buildings, Torin, captain of the watch, is accused of assaulting the town's new cleric as well as setting the fire. Knowing their father would never do anything like that, the trio of comrades begins investigating the crimes and find strange symbols at each scene.
After researching the symbol at Zendric's tower, they find out about a mysterious being called The Trickster, a shape-shifting creature who caused a great deal of trouble in the city many years before being driven out by a wizard. But how will they find a creature who can take the shape of anyone, including themselves? The answer lies within the fearsome Dungeons of Doom, the monster haunted ruins outside the town. Once again the young Knights of the Silver Dragon must enter those dark passageways to find a gem which can reveal the Trickster's true appearance.
This third book combines the best elements of the first two books of the series. It has the dungeon crawling adventure of the first, and the riddle-solving of the second making for one exciting and dangerous adventure. We continue to see each of these young Knights grow in power and courage. Although each book has been written by a different person, the continuity has been well maintained and the characters have remained true. Emily Fiegenshuh again provides a beautiful cover as well as interior illustrations that have a subtle Japanese Anime influence to them.
Each book in the series is 180 pages with chapters that average 6 - 10 pages in length which is perfect for kids in the target age group. This is very important as it's much more fulfilling to put a book down for the night at the end of a chapter rather than in the middle. Short chapters make it more motivating to read, especially for younger children.
Kids love fantasy so it's no surprise that so many of the top-selling juvenile and teen books today are fantasy-oriented. They provide a sense of wonder, imagination and adventure. This is another outstanding entry into a series which so far has gotten better and better with each title! Hats off again to Wizards of the Coast!