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Tarr, Judith. Pride of kings.

Penguin Putnam, Roc. 451p. c2001. 0-451-45847. $14.95. JSA

This is a retelling of the King Richard, Prince John and Robin of the Greenwood tale, taking actual people and events and underpinning it with magic and faery motivations. When Richard the Lionheart, shortsightedly mortal and obsessed with the Crusade to conquer Jerusalem, refuses to accept the faery crown of Arthur, the mystical Guardians of Britain approach his younger brother John. Having the lineage of an otherworldly countess in his blood, John has ancient knowledge that he can call upon when confronted with otherworldly challenges. Commanded to guide John to the spiritual center is Arslan, a half mortal whose father was a baron of the County of Anjou and mother was an ifritah (fire spirit). All the Guardians' skills and loyalties are tested as Arslan finds the Door has been opened and the Wild Magic pushing it wider, straining to be released. The true king of Britain must close it again before the darker creatures are freed, and the Guardians must both convince and protect John long enough to be able to bring his magical heritage to bear.

Even as they do battle with the wild and elusive spirits, they must contend with a more physical threat--Philip of France has decided that with King Richard absent on a failing Crusade, England is ripe for the taking. Sacrifices are made, politics played, love both found and unrequited, and throughout it all, the magical creatures vie for control of the mortal ones to rule the heart and soul of Britain.

The wording is as elegant and graceful as a ballad, with a fine appreciation for the ancient stories of the faery folk, ley lines and Arthurian magic. The descriptions of the mythical characters such as the Green Knight, Lady of the Lake, and the Green Man are traditionally rendered yet done with a jeweled polish. There is a feel of Tolkein in the casual magic and sense of established history among the characters that provides satisfaction along with plenty of strategy and romance. Some well-handled sexual situations. Perfect for reading on a long winter's night. Liz LaValley, Mattapoisett, MA
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Copyright 2002, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:LaValley, Liz
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jan 1, 2002
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