What’s the mightiest of all astrological signs? Is it Scorpio? Taurus? Leo? It’s hard to qualify such a thing. When you think about it, perhaps the most powerful sign is Pisces. After all, water covers over three-fourths of the Earth’s surface. That’s a big wet empire for fish to govern.
In the Chinese zodiac there is no debate. The Dragon is easily the most vital and powerful of all twelve signs. “The Dragon’s power is inconceivable and impossible to describe,” says Jasmine, one of the Zodiac Legacy superkids. “It’s like all the fire in the world, burning behind your eyelids. Like a star.”
Jasmine knows what she’s talking about. She once possessed the power of the Dragon until it was snatched away from her. (For more details, read our reviews of the first two novels in the series, Convergence and The Dragon’s Return.) The Horse is fierce, the Ram is unstoppable, and the Rooster can let loose with a piercing scream that would put Black Canary out of business. But all of them are just flickering matches when compared to the mythical fire-breathing creature. “The Dragon is the whole blazing sun,” says Steven Lee, the hero of the book.
Somehow the Zodiac Kids have to find a way to snuff out the Dragon before it triggers an irreversible chain of earthquakes across the globe. “If all the volcanoes in the Ring of Fire exploded at once it would lead to massive ecological disaster,” explains Duane, the group’s tech-savvy Pig. “Billions would die or fall sick from the toxic gases released into the atmosphere.” That’s bad.
But why did the Dragon want to wipe out all known life on Earth? That’s a good question – one the author(s) never truly answer in a sufficient way. But whatever. Don’t think about it too much, says Duane. “The Dragon doesn’t think like the rest of us.”
The novel opens with a tricky rescue mission deep inside a volcano. Afterward, the Agents of Z.O.D.I.A.C. travel to the Sahara desert and later they board a rickety submersible vessel off the coast of Japan. And, of course, they confront the MechaDragon in an explosive 100-page endgame. Throughout, the action sequences are constructed like a video game written by Miyuki Miyabe. If you grew up playing video games and reading Japanese genre fiction (like we did), you’d certainly agree.
The Balance of Power may (or may not) be the final volume in the Zodiac Legacy series, but it satisfactorily concludes the gang’s first star-crossed mission. Steven and his pals were a disparate bunch of kids with mad celestial superpowers. And over the course of three novels, they came together as a team to save the world. Everything worked out in the end. “Piece of cake!” they all agreed.
[The Zodiac Legacy: The Balance of Power / By Stan Lee, Stuart Moore, and Andie Tong / First Printing: March 2017 / 9781484713518]