Book Review: The Emperor’s Code (The 39 Clues #8) by Gordon Korman

Lydia Valadian July 8, 2014 0
  • Author's Voice
  • Characters
  • Plot
  • World Building

The Emperor's Code (The 39 Clues #8) by Gordon KormanWhen in China, they say, do as the  Janus do – or was it Rome and Romans? Well, either way, the Cahill orphans have left their mark in yet another country, in Gordon Korman’s The Emperor’s Code!

It’s not easy accepting your ties to certain members of your family, and Amy and Dan Cahill know this with certainty. But what do you do when your part of the family seems even worse than those relatives you once called immoral? How can Amy and Dan accept that they are Madrigals, that they – and their parents before them – belong to the branch that all the others fear and hate more than they do each other? Now in China, looking for the next clue, the siblings are starting to feel all the pressure from their heritage tearing them down – or, more specifically, tearing them apart. When a fight breaks the powerful duo, in a country full of people, can they find their way back to each other? Or have their vicious relatives finally won?

The Emperor’s Code should be considered, at the very least, one of the most important books in the series. One of the turning points. Now, one would feel it appropriate to question why. I mean, it doesn’t offer any new piece of information, other than introducing us to the leader of the Janus branch, Cora Wizard. Right?

No! Wrong! While it is true that we are not told anything we didn’t already know, Gordon Korman showed that he didn’t need to deliver any more news for the time being to keep the story flowing. He gave us something that was not expected, that we thought we had witnessed – oh, how mistaken were we – and left us alone trying to pick up the pieces. Amy and Dan have had several fights so far. Amy is turning more and more bitter with every piece of information they discover about their heritage, and Dan is desperately trying to keep his family in a rose-colored frame, his only mechanism to cope with the insanity around him being the happy memories he’s kept from them. But now they finally have their showdown, the ultimate pessimism versus the ultimate optimism – and neither of them won. Instead, they broke apart, and they spent most of the book trying to find each other. It was heartbreaking, and yet necessary. Those two were unbeatable, but they needed time apart to learn to exist without the other and grow in strength individually.

All in all, Korman did a wonderful job of character development in The Emperor’s Code, without neglecting the search for the Clues. Admittedly, the siblings didn’t care that much here to get on with it, but they realized that it was the only thing all of the family has in common and their strongest connection point in order to find each other.  Adding to that the fast pace and the mystery behind Jonah’s behavior, as well as the bond that Dan seemed to form with him in this book, it was a remarkable part of the series, and one that, as I have already said, should be considered vital to the story so far.

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