Conditional Recommendation: A tale of a ring of power, a good king corrupted, a strong bond of two brothers and lives changed by redemptive love set in a world of fantasy and honor.
In addition to this book, Nancy Springer also wrote the Enola Holmes mysteries and it was my curiosity about those books that led me to this one. I didn’t enjoy The Missing Marquess but I was enchanted with The Oddling Prince immediately. The even-paced telling of a royal family, specifically two brothers, dealing with the mischief of a trickster ring and a king plagued by an unknown evil pulled me right in and I was delighted. Plus the fantastical world seems familiar because it feels like Middle Earth and they speak of King Arthur and Camelot.
Tip: Pay attention to the tales and legends the characters tell each other because they lend meaning to plot points later in the story!
In the ancient moors of Scotland, the king of Calidon lies on his deathbed, cursed by a ring that cannot be removed from his finger. When a mysterious fey stranger appears to save the king, he also carries a secret that could tear the royal family apart. The kingdom’s only hope will lie with two young men raised worlds apart. Aric is the beloved heir to the throne of Calidon; Albaric is clearly of noble origin yet strangely out of place. The Oddling Prince is a tale of brothers whose love and loyalty to each other is such that it defies impending warfare, sundering seas, fated hatred, and the very course of time itself. In her long-awaited new fantasy novel, Nancy Springer explores the darkness of the human heart as well as its unceasing capacity for love.
It is the bond of love between brothers that stands out as the primary theme of this story. It’s hard to describe, but it’s a noble relationship coated with more honor and love by their knightly ways of speaking to one another and the strange and intimate understanding the brothers share. A second theme is the love and respect of the sons for their father.
In keeping with the pervading theme of family, what’s really good about this book is the love, respect, honor, and kindness each family member shows to one another. The goodness is only enriched when the good king becomes corrupted. His family bears with him however grieved they are by his change. There’s a wholesome romance, the hope of a son yearning for his father’s love, and, my favorite, redemption brought about by love.
I found each main character to be very distinct, but as I listened to this book, I kept thinking that the story, though told from Aric’s perspective, is more about the king than it is the two brothers. This might be because the king undergoes the most change throughout the book and so much of the plot is centered around him.
I would also consider the ring a character as it manages to communicate to the other characters and influences the plot. Not quite the same, but similar to the role of the ring in Lord of the Rings.
It all comes together!
- a ring with a will of its own, able to perform magical feats
- the oddling prince who is half man half fey and therefore has some unusual qualities
There are allusions to sex, mentions of it in conversation and in tales the characters tell but all of it is appropriately discreet.
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