THE SAVAGE DAMSEL AND THE DWARF

In Morris's third (Squire's Tale, 1998; The Squire, the Knight and the Lady, 1999) wry, sometimes hilarious, take on an Arthurian legend, a sharp-tongued young damosel gets an education in sorcery, intrigue and what true knighthood is all about. To save her beautiful, if vapid, older sister Lyonesse from the clutches of a bloodthirsty suitor, Lynet sets out on her own to recruit a champion from Camelot. She returns with a savvy, but inept, dwarf, Roger, and a kitchen knave dubbed `Beaumains` who, from his adroit sword work and obsession with fighting every armored comer to the death, is obviously a knight in disguise. Though Lynet is deeply smitten, in time she loses both her infatuation and at least some of her romantic illusions, incidentally gaining along the way grounding in sorcery and herb lore. There's plenty of violence here, and not the cartoon sort either, but Morris doesn't glorify it; instead, he populates the woods (every clearing, it sometimes seems) with knights of every stripe, from murderous brutes and big talkers to mild mannered, sensible sorts—including among the latter the renowned Sir Lancelot and Sir Gawain. Ultimately realizing that her true hero has been literally under her nose the whole time, Lynet douses Roger with a magic potion that not only heals a mortal wound, but, to her amazement turns him back into (tah-dah!) Sir Gaheris, Prince of Orkney. As Beaumains turns out to be Sir Gareth, his featherbrained brother and so a perfect match for Lyonesse, the tale ends with a grand double wedding. Fans of Gail Carson Levine's Ella Enchanted (1997), Patricia Wrede's Enchanted Forest Chronicles and similarly lighthearted fantasy will be delighted. (afterword) (Fiction. 1115)

Pub Date: April 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-395-97126-8

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2000

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Busy, busy, busy…with portents of doom.

CHAIN OF GOLD

From the Last Hours series , Vol. 1

Clare’s (Ghosts of the Shadow Market, 2019, etc.) latest is set in the Shadowhunter world in the 20th century’s first decade (with frequent flashbacks to the previous one).

Teenage offspring of the Herondales, Carstairs, Fairchilds, and other angel-descended Nephilim continue their families’ demon-fighting ways amid a round of elegant London balls, soirees, salons, picnics, and romantic intrigues. James Herondale, 17-year-old son of Will and Tessa, finds himself and his “perfectly lethal dimple” hung up between two stunning new arrivals: Cordelia Carstairs, red-haired Persian/British wielder of a fabled magic sword, and Grace Blackthorn, an emotionally damaged but (literally, as the author unsubtly telegraphs) spellbinding friend from childhood. Meanwhile, a sudden outbreak of demonic attacks that leave more and more Shadowhunters felled by a mysterious slow poison plunges James and a cohort of allies into frantic searches for both a cause and an antidote. Ichor-splashed encounters with ravening boojums and even one of hell’s own princes ensue—all leading to final hints of a devastating scheme to destroy the Nephilim in which James himself is slated to play a central role. Characters have a range of skin tones, but ethnic diversity adds no texture to the portrayals; there is a lesbian cousin who wears traditionally male clothing and two young gay men (one tortured, the other less so).

Busy, busy, busy…with portents of doom. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3187-3

Page Count: 624

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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Wrought with admirable skill—the emptiness and menace underlying this Utopia emerge step by inexorable step: a richly...

THE GIVER

From the Giver Quartet series , Vol. 1

In a radical departure from her realistic fiction and comic chronicles of Anastasia, Lowry creates a chilling, tightly controlled future society where all controversy, pain, and choice have been expunged, each childhood year has its privileges and responsibilities, and family members are selected for compatibility.

As Jonas approaches the "Ceremony of Twelve," he wonders what his adult "Assignment" will be. Father, a "Nurturer," cares for "newchildren"; Mother works in the "Department of Justice"; but Jonas's admitted talents suggest no particular calling. In the event, he is named "Receiver," to replace an Elder with a unique function: holding the community's memories—painful, troubling, or prone to lead (like love) to disorder; the Elder ("The Giver") now begins to transfer these memories to Jonas. The process is deeply disturbing; for the first time, Jonas learns about ordinary things like color, the sun, snow, and mountains, as well as love, war, and death: the ceremony known as "release" is revealed to be murder. Horrified, Jonas plots escape to "Elsewhere," a step he believes will return the memories to all the people, but his timing is upset by a decision to release a newchild he has come to love. Ill-equipped, Jonas sets out with the baby on a desperate journey whose enigmatic conclusion resonates with allegory: Jonas may be a Christ figure, but the contrasts here with Christian symbols are also intriguing.

Wrought with admirable skill—the emptiness and menace underlying this Utopia emerge step by inexorable step: a richly provocative novel. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: April 1, 1993

ISBN: 978-0-395-64566-6

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1993

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