Unicorns of Balinor Part Two

Welcome back to our second installment on Mary Stanton’s “Unicorns of Balinor” book series. If you’re just joining us, check out Part One for our reviews of the first four books. These book were published 1999-2000 by Scholastic, with beautiful cover art by Dan Craig.

The Search for the Star

Now that Princess Arianna has recovered the Royal Scepter from Entia, the Shifter (in “By Fire, By Moonlight”) she returns to the village of Balinor ready to work with the Resistance and find her missing family. However, Entia steals the Indigo Star – a six-pointed jewel that contains “Deep Magic” – from the dragon Naytin. Naytin guards the jewel, and wakes only every thousand years to feed.
With the Indigo Star in the Shifter’s hands, the blue, indigo, and violet unicorns of the Celestial Valley begin to lose their color and their magic – including Atalanta the Dreamspeaker, Ari’s unicorn guide. Through trickery, Entia makes the dragon believe that the people of Balinor stole the jewel instead, which causes the dragon to fly into a rage and destroy the village where Ari and her friends are staying. The ragtag group then returns to the Shifter’s lands with a group of Dragonslayers. During this journey, Ari and her unicorn companion Sunchaser sneak back to the Shifter’s castle, and steal back the Indigo Star. Its magic, combined with the magic of her Royal Scepter, allow Arianna to evade Entia’s clutches once again and restore the color to the blue, indigo, and violet Unicorns.

Secrets of the Scepter

Entia is enraged after the loss of the Indigo Star, his last chance to find a rival power to the Royal Scepter. But Princess Arianna is still missing pieces of her memory. She is guided by Atalanta the Dreamspeaker to go on a journey to find three golden rings for the Scepter, each a symbol of a test she must undergo to prove her final worthiness to use the Deep Magic. Ari solves problems for a group of warring centaurs, a Wild Unicorn Queen who’s mate has joined the Shadow Unicorns, and her own childhood nurse and friend.
This is also the book where Arianna finally comes out as the Princess of Balinor to the remaining three Lords of the noble Houses. Over the course of the series, the Resistance has been trying to keep her hidden, for fear of the Shifter finding Ari and capturing her before she’s come into her full power. This now exposes Ari to the Shifter’s forces, and sets the stage for the final battle yet to come.

Night of the Shifter’s Moon

Now that Ari has joined the three golden rings to the Scepter, she and her unicorn Chase must face off against Entia once and for all to free Balinor from his grip. Into the mix also comes the Shadow Rider, last seen competing against Ari in “By Fire, By Moonlight,” and here revealed to be Kraken, the Big Bad, and the face of the evil half of the Deep Magic. Kraken exists in counterpart to the Old Mare of the Mountain, who represents good.
Ari and her companions retake the royal palace of Balinor, and when the Shifter attacks the palace, a great battle ensues. The forces of good are outmatched, but a timely intervention by the Celestial Unicorns, who ride down the Crystal Arch into Balinor and defeat the Shifter, turns the tide. Entia’s evil is overthrown, and Balinor finally has the chance to return to its harmonious ways.

Shadows Over Balinor

The day is won against Entia. The Shifter’s castle is destoryed, his slaves freed, and the Valley of Fear is now known as Terra Incognita. Now that the balance of magic has been restored, the Unicorns of the Celestial Valley will stay there, and Atalanta can only visit Arianna in dreams.
Moloch, the evil Shadow Unicorn rival of Chase, is trying to reawaken Kraken by using the magic of a passing comet. Meanwhile, Arianna and company are searching for Archon, the Royal Archivist, who fled the royal palace with precious records and documents when the Shifter came to power. The group is hoping he is the key to finding Arianna’s missing family and restoring them to the thrones of Balinor.
And in the midst of this, we learn the story being Arianna’s loyal collie, Lincoln! He is the Link (get it) between worlds in the Gap, and the being that carried Arianna and Chase to their hiding place in Glacier River Farm in the first book!

Sadly, Shadows Over Balinor is the end of the series, but not the series’ ending. We never get to find out what happens with Kraken, or if Ari ever finds her missing family. It’s obvious that Shadows was meant to be the kickoff for the next story arc. It introduces new supporting characters and enemies alike, but for whatever reason Scholastic apparently pulled the plug before Mary Stanton had the chance to finish the series. At least she had the chance to wrap up the Shifter storyline with “Night of the Shifter’s Moon,” providing some closure to the series’ conflicts.
For Jewel Riders fans, these books contained several interesting notes worth mentioning.
  • In “Search for the Star” when the unicorns start losing their color, I was super reminded of Rainbow Brite, who fought to keep color in the Universe.
  • In “Search for the Star” and “Secrets of the Scepter,” the Royal Scepter powers up with different magic, very reminiscent of the Crown Jewels powering up the Enchanted Jewels.
  • The Indigo Star works sort of like a Crown Jewel, maintaining magical balance.
  • There’s literally a line that says “walk the path” to Arianna from Atalanta, which helps her escape the Shifter’s Castle. Reminded me strongly of “Vale of the Unicorns.”
  • In another Vale reminder, “Secrets of the Scepter” features a Unicorn Queen of the Wild Unicorns.
  • There’s a Forest of Ardit, reminiscent of the Forest of Arden.
  • And I had to laugh that the final book had the characters searching for the Archivist! Seeing as we are the Jewel Riders Archive. 🙂

Thanks for reading along, and I hope you enjoyed these recaps of the Unicorns of Balinor! Stay tuned for more great unicorn fun as our “Year of the Unicorn” continues!

Ride on, Jewel Riders!

Chris

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