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ELSKE by Cynthia Voigt

ELSKE

By Cynthia Voigt

Age Range: 12 - 14

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-689-82472-6
Publisher: Atheneum

Voigt’s fourth adventure set in the alternate reality world of Jackaroo (1985) is a stately-paced study of courage and loyalty shared, mostly, between women. Condemned to a ritual rape and murder by the brutal raiders known as Wolfers, Elske escapes untouched to the mercantile port of Trastad, where she meets prickly, imperious Beriel, an occasional visitor who claims to be a princess from an unknown land. Responding deeply to Beriel’s inner fire, Elske becomes her steadfast servant, finding a home for her secretly-borne child, following her on the long, dangerous journey back to her kingdom, and, while she is away battling her treacherous brother for the throne, cleverly driving off an invading company of Wolfers without bloodshed. Aside from one assault, the violence is off stage, and Voigt keeps the focus on her two main characters: she traces Elske’s growth from almost amoral innocence to strong-minded, loving maturity, and presents Beriel as a figure made larger-than-life by her anger and surety, demanding utter loyalty from her followers, but able to return it in kind. Fans of thud-and-blunder epics should look elsewhere; for readers who enjoy probing studies of ties that bind, this will illuminate some hidden corners of the human spirit. (Fiction. 12-14)