Study Guide

The Paladin Prophecy Setting

By Mark Frost


The Center for Integrated Learning, New Brighton Township, Wisconsin, Present Day

Who Moved Our Cheese?

We have no idea how someone could write a book set in Wisconsin without once mentioning cheese, but Mark Frost has done it.

Will must move from sunny California to the frigid tundra of Wisconsin—don't say otherwise, Wisconsin: some of us grew up there, and it is a (beautiful) frigid tundra. Wisconsin is so cold it's practically Antarctica to thin-skinned Will. "People actually live in weather like this?" (10.30), he remarks when he must put on a coat to go outside. Like anyone who moves north of the Mason-Dixon Line, Will adapts to chilly weather. He even learns that he can literally run on top of snow like a Winter X-Games Jesus.

The main feature of this remote region of Wisconsin is the Center for Integrated Learning, founded by Thomas Greenwood. His great-grandson is Hugh Greenwood, who turns out actually to be Will's father (it's his true identity)—which goes to prove that nepotism is alive and well at the Center.

The Center is supposedly an intense academy, with only the best and brightest students across the country chosen by the National Scholastic Evaluation Agency. This, too, is a scam. Is this a commentary on U.S. reliance on standardized tests as a measure of quality? If so, what does that mean?

Whatever it means, the Center isn't all that rigorous. Students attend one whole class per day and never seem to have homework, which means they never use Shmoop.

New Brighton Township is fictional, although there is a city of Brighton, Wisconsin. Brighton's website doesn't mention a top-secret school for geniuses, but if it did, it wouldn't be secret, now, would it?