ON FORTUNE'S WHEEL by Cynthia Voigt
Kirkus Star


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Returning to the vividly portrayed imaginary medieval world of Jackaroo (1985), Voigt tells of another-innkeeper's daughter, two generations later, who also struggles with her society's rigidity on her way to a self-defined, productive life. By chance, Birle sees a stranger (Orien) taking her father's boat; in trying to retrieve it, she unexpectedly joins him on a long, adventurous trek clown the river--during which they only begin to know each other: she realizes that he is of the nobility, while he is soon depending on her competence for life's necessities. Reaching the sea, they founder on a desolate rock; their "rescuers" sell them as slaves in a foreign city. There, Birle is lucky enough to learn healing herb lore, but Orien suffers the humiliation of the mines, from which he barely escapes with his life. Reunited, they agree to marry and return to their own country and to the difficult choices that still await them. Voigt is a master of pure story; her enthralling narratives are seamlessly interwoven with telling perceptions of human nature. Here, the reader is somewhat distanced from characters who are more symbolic than those in her realistic fiction. Birle's master when she is a slave is a kind but amoral philosopher, brother to a cruel despot; in a parallel crucial to Voigt's theme, Orion abdicates rule to his younger brother, a stern but compassionate judge, choosing for himself a simpler, more creative life. A satisfying love story, a grand adventure, and a rich mix of ideas and action.
Pub Date: March 1st, 1990
ISBN: 0689829574
Page count: 421pp
Publisher: Atheneum
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 1990


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