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The Winter Prince, Elizabeth Wein

2010/06/09

During my early teens, I went on a Arthurian literature kick which was jump started by Anne McCaffrey’s “Black Horses for the King,” and spurred onward by this novel, which was stowed away in a tiny corner of the children’s area known as the “JH” section. I read the original 1993 Atheneum version with the blue cover, and I have to say, though I am glad to see it republished, I liked the old cover much better.

In this lovely rendition, Arthur and Morgause’s son Mordred returns to Camlaan, arriving during a family crisis in which Arthur and Ginevra’s young son, Lleu, is deathly ill. Mordred, who has been trained as a physician, becomes Lleu’s doctor, though many of the household are understandably nervous about letting their king’s oldest, illegitimate son care for the heir. Mordred has a jealous, protective relationship with Lleu and his twin sister, Goewin, which plays out in fascinating ways throughout the novel, right up to the end. Wein captures snapshots of these episodes, including a riding accident and the aftermath, a visit from Morgause and her sons, and the performance of the yearly play.

This has long been the standard to which I held Arthurian literature, and I was saddened to find that not many young adult selections lived up to it, not even the sequels. Still, reading this novel introduced me to Arthurian literature, and other novels recommended by the author, and I highly recommend it.

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