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THE WIDOW AND THE KING by John Dickinson


by John Dickinson

Age Range: 14 & up

Pub Date: June 14th, 2005
ISBN: 0-385-75084-6
Publisher: David Fickling/Random

In an intelligent, literate sequel to The Cup of the World (2004), Ambrose, the adolescent scion of Tarceny, must pay the price of his deceased father’s foray into politics and sorcery: raised in exile, keeping constant watch over his demonic ancestor, the secret instigator of the civil strife despoiling the feudal kingdom. When this monster escapes, Ambrose flees the numerous forces, human and magical, seeking his death; he fetches up at the court of the Widow of Develin, the last bastion of learning in a benighted land, just as evil magic and human despair join to bring it to ruin. Now on the run with Sophia, the Widow’s willful, passionate daughter, the pair must rally old allies and antagonists against the greater enemy—and their own, too-human failings. As the dark, twisty narrative alternates between brooding menace and brutal violence, leading to a painfully bittersweet climax, this weighty tome does not flinch from the hard questions—about faith, reason, authority, justice, forgiveness and (above all) choice—nor from ambiguous, even contradictory answers. Elegant, elliptical prose weaves these larger issues within the threads of a lushly detailed world of psychologically rich characters. Only the protagonists’ ages mark this as a YA novel; its subtle depths demand careful attention that will reward any thoughtful devotee of speculative fiction. (Fantasy. YA)