Reviewed by Rex Sumner
This is the story of a small kingdom, surrounded by other small kingdoms but does have a seaport. The heir to the throne is a young prince, the king dead and his mother the Queen Regent till he reaches his majority. The span of the book is from his early teens until he is seventeen.
The Queen is an astute politician, controlling various interests with the main opposition from a cousin who believes himself the rightful ruler. This cousin makes attempts at the children’s lives. It is the story of the boy growing up and developing to be fit to rule, including a spell at sea.
The authors write well and the main characters are developed. They open early loops, closing them, or most of them, through the book in an effective manner. The reader develops a fair understanding of the country and its people. The writing is strong and the readers interest is retained all through the story which is a fair length, 236 pages.
Criticisms. The start is far too slow, then the narrative speeds up and becomes too fast in places! I suspect this was recognised, and large chunks of the book removed, for it does seem that bits are missing on one or two occasions. Although the characters are developed, I would have liked more depth to them, more subtlety, but then it is a YA story. Perhaps why the politics is a little simple and the infrastructure not explored.
Combat descriptions are interesting, mostly skated over but towards the end there is more description. The ship’s defensive ability is well done and believable, although to allow a young boy to rescue them seemed a slight stretch. The authors know their sailing and the ship passage is well done. There is the barest touch of magic, a sword flaring to life and a boy perhaps brought back to life, well done, and the religious tones are skated around, a new religion making gains and beginning to cause difficulty for the ruling class. Not involved in the story nor are the religious beliefs of the participants explored.
Love interests are hinted at rather than explored, there is no graphic pain or discomfort, the only torture is by boys bullying, bad is black and good is white, no real shades of grey.
All in all, a good, straightforward yarn that should appeal to young readers of fantasy, ideal as an introduction to fantasy for young teens.