Saturday, June 12

Elizabeth E. Wein: The Winter Prince

King Artos’s son Medraut cannot stand being commanded and contradicted by his sickly younger half-brother. He may be a bastard born of incest but he is still the first born son and feels he deserves some respect-even from the legitimate heir. Spurred on by his mother, in a moment of bitter jealousy, he agrees to kidnap the king’s favourite son. He plans to hold the boy to ransom, forcing his father to bestow upon him the honours he feels he deserves.
But throughout the ordeal his brother shows more courage and moral strength than was ever thought possible, earning not only his respect but forcing him to realise that despite everything he does love the boy.
The two return to court a new understanding between them and hope for a bright future.
This was a unique spin on the old Arthurian legends. Rather than an outright villain the Medraut character is simply a boy on the verge of manhood desperately trying to carve a place for himself in a world that sees him not for who he is but for how he came to be.
The decaying Roman world in which the story is set feels realistic but it is the brilliant characterisation that really makes the story jump off the page.
As a young adult novel it is the junior characters that carry the action and they do so in a believable manner, the intense emotions and flawed logic of their youth wonderfully portrayed.
While knowledge of the legend enriches the tale told here it is not necessary-this book gives the reader all the details they need and so stands alone well. Though knowing how the legends traditionally end gives this tale’s ending poignancy it is otherwise without.
A great read for lovers of Arthurian legend both young and old.-Lynn

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