Sonderbooks Book Reviews by Sondra Eklund

Sonderbooks Stand-out 2004
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*****= An all-time favorite
****  = Outstanding
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*        = Good, with reservations

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****The Winter Prince

by Elizabeth E. Wein

Reviewed April 20, 2004.
Firebird, New York, 2002.  First published in 1993.  202 pages.
Available at Sembach Library (JF WEI).
Sonderbooks Stand-out 2004, #2, Young Adult Historical Fiction

While I was in America last Christmas, I was delighted to find many books from the Firebird imprint.  I loved the anthology Firebirds that they put out, and knew from editor Sharyn November’s story of the imprint that I stood a very good chance of liking any book they published.  Unfortunately, once I buy a book, it has a tendency to languish in a pile on my dresser, neglected because of not having a due date.  At last, I got my first of these books read, and I wasn’t a bit disappointed.

I’ve already read and loved A Coalition of Lions, by Elizabeth E. Wein, which is actually a sequel to this book.  I was not surprised to find the earlier book magnificent writing as well.

Although The Winter Prince is published by a fantasy imprint, I’m categorizing it as historical fiction.  No magic takes place in the story, though some of the characters have skill with herbs that is seen by more ignorant peasants as magic.  What makes this story fit well with fantasy is that the historical era it tells us of is the time of King Arthur.  I’m sure that others who love fantasy will love this book as I did.

The Winter Prince tells us of King Artos’ court from the point of view of Medraut, the son of Artos and his half-sister Morgause.  He’s the character who is normally portrayed as the villain of the Arthurian legend.  Elizabeth Wein skillfully lets us see through Medraut’s eyes as his sickly younger brother Lleu is groomed for the throne, even though Medraut has far more qualities suitable for a ruler.  Because of the shame of Medraut’s birth, though no fault of his own, he can never be a king.  Yet his father loves him anyway and gives him authority in the kingdom.  However, his mother still intends to use him in her own quest for power.

Here is a powerful story of sibling rivalry, but also about affection between siblings.  It’s a completely new way of looking at the story of King Arthur.

Reviews of other books by Elizabeth E. Wein:
A Coalition of Lions
The Sunbird
The Empty Kingdom
Code Name Verity
Rose Under Fire
Black Dove, White Raven
Code Name Verity
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Copyright © 2005 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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