Years after the time of King Arthur, the daughter of a minor Cornish king reluctantly elects to go to her godmother, Euny,...

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JUNIPER

Years after the time of King Arthur, the daughter of a minor Cornish king reluctantly elects to go to her godmother, Euny, for training in the healing arts. Juniper's gift is already apparent, and she imagines that Euny will share both herbal lore and magic; instead, she finds primitive accommodations, a harsh, taciturn taskmaster, and an uncomfortably ascetic life: reality, Euny says, is her teacher. Months later, the two travel to the more hospitable home of another doran (wise woman), and Juniper completes the rites that make her a doran. Finally, she goes home, where her father's evil older sister, Meroot, is plotting for his throne; using her new power, Juniper outwits her. Two thirds of the novel concerns Juniper's education, a curiously loveless process that, paradoxically, is supposed to be obediently endured without complaint even while it fosters independence. Still, Furlong develops her characters with insight and provides enough intriguing details in this imaginary world to hold attention until the more vigorous action at the end, when Juniper and a friendly page contrive to rescue her best friend from witch-aunt Meroot with the aid of their own courage, a secret tunnel, and the magic at their disposal. Meanwhile, Juniper comes to terms with her jealousy toward the new brother who now supplants her as her father's heir. Like Wise Child (1987), to which it is a prequel, this focuses on contrasting value systems while providing some suspense plus food for thought.

Pub Date: March 1, 1991

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1991