The Fatal Child

Overview

The final novel in this compelling trilogy set in a medieval fantasy world.

Atti is the Fatal Child. Beautiful and adored, she is troubled by a recurring nightmare of violence and betrayal. She can love no one and trust no one, and she wakes screaming in the night.

Driven by his love for Atti, Ambrose, son of Phaedra, gives up his wandering existence and takes the throne. This is the story of his kingship and his attempts to remove the curse of...

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The Fatal Child

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Overview

The final novel in this compelling trilogy set in a medieval fantasy world.

Atti is the Fatal Child. Beautiful and adored, she is troubled by a recurring nightmare of violence and betrayal. She can love no one and trust no one, and she wakes screaming in the night.

Driven by his love for Atti, Ambrose, son of Phaedra, gives up his wandering existence and takes the throne. This is the story of his kingship and his attempts to remove the curse of Beyah, the weeping goddess, from his land. For while Beyah weeps, she poisons hearts, and only when the weeping stops can peace be restored to the kingdom.

Seen through the eyes of Padry, close advisor to the king, and of Melissa, maid to the queen, this is a passionate story of love and betrayal, power and sacrifice, hope and loss. Prophecies are fulfilled and story threads are concluded as Ambrose and his mother struggle to come to terms with their destinies.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Jennie DeGenaro
Dickinson wrote this breathtaking novel to end the trilogy begun with The Cup of the World and The Widow and the King. The book begins and ends with a fierce battle where the enemy has no compassion for the opposing side. Characters are well drawn and the protagonist, Melissa, a maid, is more honorable and likable than Atti, a beautiful girl who becomes the queen. There are elements of witchcraft, intrigue, court politics, and betrayal which keep the reader turning pages. Melissa is a faithful servant to Atti before and after she becomes queen. Atti's husband, the king, loves her dearly. When her reputation becomes scarred, the king does not believe it for quite some time. Melissa loves the king in ways more personal than expected from a lowly servant. Melissa also loves a young man who is working to improve himself educationally and socially. Atti does not appreciate all that Melissa has done for her. On one important occasion, Atti shows her concern and feeling for Melissa. Toward the close of the book, the ousted king's mother makes an effort to save Atti's life. The gesture was one of benevolence rather than love for her daughter-in-law. The book will appeal to young boys as well as girls since bloody battle fields are included as well as love trysts. The locale is an imaginary kingdom and apparently takes place during the "middle ages." Reviewer: Jennie DeGenaro
School Library Journal
Gr 10 Up—This final book in a trilogy that began with The Cup of the World (2004) and The Widow and the King (2005, both Random) centers on Ambrose, Prince Under the Sky, who was a boy in the second book. Now in his early 20s, he rules over a ragged court in the wastelands, meting out justice to those who voluntarily come before him. His ill-fated relationship with Atti, the spoiled princess who is heir to another throne, drives Ambrose to leave the desert and accept the position of ruler over the entire kingdom. The story is told in third person largely from the viewpoints of the flawed but brilliant Thomas Padry, advisor to the king, and the resilient and spirited Melissa, one of Atti's maids. The novel opens with an unflinching description of Padry's participation in the sacking of Atti's city and his rescue of the young girl. Grim and unsettling, the story will confuse even those teens familiar with the first two novels. Those who have not read them will be hopelessly lost. The pacing is choppy with long chapters of relatively little activity followed by fast-paced and sometimes unclear action. Melissa is the only likable character, and readers will look forward to the satisfying conclusion to her story line. At nearly 550 pages, though, only the most determined readers will slog through to the end.—Leah J. Sparks, formerly at Bowie Public Library, MD
Kirkus Reviews
The culmination of a superlative fantasy trilogy offers a heartbreaking vision of violence, failure, betrayal, sacrifice and redemption. Ambrose, the fugitive Prince Under the Sky, offers judgment to those who seek him out. When the beautiful princess Atti comes demanding vengeance, she sets in motion his quest to use dark magic to take power from the feckless, brutal king, hoping to defy a goddess's curse and bring peace to the blood-soaked land. Their tragedy, viewed through the eyes of a devoted maidservant and a world-weary counselor, presents all four as textured, complex and sympathetic, if not necessarily likable. The setting, steeped in its own distinctive history, geography and intricate interplay of politics and religion, is vividly present; the language-formal, poetic, rich in description and drenched with the melancholy weight of inevitable doom-shapes the whole. While the tale can be appreciated on its own merits, alert readers will find additional layers of subtle allusions and symbolism. By no means an easy read, it is immensely rewarding, for older teens or adults with the courage to make the journey. (Fantasy. YA)
From the Publisher
Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews, August 1, 2009:
"It is immensely rewarding, for older teens or adults with the courage to make the journey."

From the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780375861239
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 3/8/2011
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 560
  • Age range: 12 years
  • Product dimensions: 4.10 (w) x 6.80 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

John Dickinson is a house-husband, touchline Dad, and writer. He is also the household cook, a struggling tenor, and treasurer for the parish church. He lives in Painswick, Gloucestershire.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 15, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Theresa L. Stowell for TeensReadToo.com

    This spectacular high fantasy is the third book in a trilogy including THE CUP OF THE WORLD and THE WIDOW AND THE KING. Dickinson uses a mixture of political intrigue, frightening battles, and treacherous relationships.

    The novel starts with Thomas Padry, counselor to King Gueronius, saving a mysterious young girl in the midst of a battle. Atti is a beautiful child, and as the years pass Padry finds peace in her presence.

    When Atti decides she must pursue the elusive Prince Under the Sky, Padry follows. However, finding Atti takes Padry on a harder journey than he anticipated. He must ask Raymonde, a nobleman's son and a murderer, to help him on his way, and then he must trust Talifer, one of the seven sons of historic Wulfram the Seafarer. Danger, witchcraft, and dragons are just a few of the things Padry faces.

    Atti's story is also told by Melissa, a teenage girl who becomes Atti's maid. Melissa's humble background is the opposite of Atti's privileged one. However, the two walk together through the journey Atti has chosen.

    Atti further becomes a significant part of the Prince Under the Sky's quest as Ambrose takes over his rightful throne and attempts to save his world from the weeping goddess whose tears pollute the hearts of men, causing discord and discontent.

    Readers will be drawn into this well-written tale and follow closely as Ambrose strives to bring peace back to his world.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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