THE DRAGON THRONE by Michael Cadnum


Age Range: 11 - 13
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The third of Cadnum’s 12th-century dramas takes battle weary, returned Crusader Edmund and three companions from the England of Prince John back to Rome, escorting comely young Ester de Laci, an attendant of Eleanor of Aquitaine’s, on a pilgrimage. Once again, it’s the violence woven into medieval society that sounds the loudest thematic chord. Sandwiched between brutal opening and closing duels (“ ‘Our English lad chopped the Frankish knight down like a stump!’ ” genially comments an onlooking scholar after the first fracas), the pilgrims twice battle bands of pursuers sent by John. Then, thanks in part to Ester’s facility with a crossbow, they repel bandits in the Alps, and a gang of toughs in the lawless Holy City. The author does tuck in a pair of romantic subplots, while steering away from violence of the sexual sort, and draws the tale to an upbeat close with the pilgrims and re-met friends readying themselves to depart for England. Though not so vivid or bitter as Catherine Jinks’s contemporaneous Pagan stories, this, like its predecessors, will leave readers pondering, as the author puts it, “the terrible paradox—that caring, responsible individuals can engage in acts of brutality.” (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: May 1st, 2005
ISBN: 0-670-03631-5
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Viking
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 2005


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