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Pride of Kings

Pride of Kings

4.0 4
by Judith Tarr

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National bestselling author and World Fantasy Award nominee Judith Tarr delivers a powerful epic of a glorious battle against magic unbound…

At the coronation of the new king of England, two crowns are offered to Richard the Lionheart: the mortal and the magical. Lured by earthbound glory and driven by mortal faith, Richard spurns the pagan crown&mdash


National bestselling author and World Fantasy Award nominee Judith Tarr delivers a powerful epic of a glorious battle against magic unbound…

At the coronation of the new king of England, two crowns are offered to Richard the Lionheart: the mortal and the magical. Lured by earthbound glory and driven by mortal faith, Richard spurns the pagan crownand rides off on a Crusade to reclaim a sun-scorched Jerusalem from the infidels, leaving his new kingdom defenseless in the mists…

For some unknown power has brought down the wall between worldsand beings of dark magic await their chance to cross over the threshold.

Summoned to England by his dreams is Arslan, a strapping youth born of fire and man. Able to walk between worlds and speak with spirits, he is destined to help a country he has never seen and swear loyalty to a man he has never met: Prince John, called Lackland, who will emerge from the shadow of his older brother Richard to rule the armies of the air.

There are two wars for England to win or lose. One could weaken a mortal empire. The other could destroy the world…

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Tarr spins an entertaining and often enlightening tale.”—The Washington Post

“Tarr excels at bringing historical events to life.”—Publishers Weekly

Publishers Weekly
The fantastic may be subsidiary to fact in Tarr's (Kingdom of the Grail) latest historical fantasy, but it lends an eerily beautiful, sometimes frightening undercurrent to this engrossing, thoroughly satisfying novel, set in the late 12th century. England's Richard the Lionheart, lusting for men, poetry and war in Palestine, sets off on a crusade, leaving his brother, Prince John, to look after the kingdom. Prompted by the ghost of a Saxon saint, who promises him "powers beyond the reach of mere mortal king," John agrees to seize the throne. The price is steep history will treat him as a traitor, a betrayer of his brother's trust but John truly loves Britain and its people, unlike Richard, and is thus a worthier monarch in the view of certain higher powers. Summoned to England to help John is the French youth Arslan ("lion" in Turkish). The son of a lord and a female spirit, Arslan moves readily between the faery and the human worlds. Tarr smoothly blends a dazzling array of characters from both history and myth: Eleanor of Acquitaine, her "face still beautiful, like a wood in winter, stripped of all its softness"; Philip of France, who after abandoning Richard in Palestine seeks to invade Britain; "Robin o' the Wood... crowned with oak-leaves and carrying a great bow"; and the enchanted Lorelei, who wears "a woman's shape" but "the suppleness of its movements was not truly human." At the end, the author even throws in the Ring of the Nibelung, but such is the quality of her prose that no extravagance seems forced or extraneous. A firm sense of place, notably London and Paris, contributes to a totally credible delight. (Sept. 4) Forecast: With the support of a name author or two, plus therecognition of an award (she's been a World Fantasy Award nominee), Tarr could graduate from trade paper to hardcover and bigger sales. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
This historical fantasy presents two of the most famous characters in British history, King Richard the Lionhearted and his brother, John. John eventually succeeds Richard as king but not before being vilified for attempting to usurp Richard's throne. In this novel, his actions are explained as necessary to secure both of Britain's kingdoms: the world of man and the world of the fairy folk. When offered both thrones, Richard refuses to acknowledge the magical realm. John, however, agrees to accept the fairy crown and the responsibilities that it entails. The protagonist of the novel is John's squire, the exotic Arslan, "the child of a lord who loved a spirit of fire." For the good of Britain, Arslan assists John in all of his challenges. He also falls in love with Eschiva, one of the fairy guardians of Britain; is knighted eventually by John; and gains landholdings in the magical kingdom of Avalon. Tarr's novel is a tapestry woven of fantasy and historical fact. It seamlessly blends real people and actual events into a magical world populated by spirits. Despite its intimidating scope, the plot contains classic elements of adventure and romance accessible to any reader. Although the author uses archaic terms and some graphic description, her writing style is generally conversational. This book holds broad appeal beyond the fantasy genre and should have no trouble finding an audience. VOYA CODES: 4Q 4P S A/YA (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12; Adult and Young Adult). 2001, Roc, 451p, $14.95 Trade pb. Ages 15 to Adult. Reviewer: Christine Sanderson SOURCE: VOYA, February 2002 (Vol. 24, No.6)
This is a retelling of the King Richard, Prince John and Robin of the Greenwood tale, taking actual people and events and underpinning it with magic and faery motivations. When Richard the Lionheart, shortsightedly mortal and obsessed with the Crusade to conquer Jerusalem, refuses to accept the faery crown of Arthur, the mystical Guardians of Britain approach his younger brother John. Having the lineage of an otherworldly countess in his blood, John has ancient knowledge that he can call upon when confronted with otherworldly challenges. Commanded to guide John to the spiritual center is Arslan, a half mortal whose father was a baron of the County of Anjou and mother was an ifritah (fire spirit). All the Guardians' skills and loyalties are tested as Arslan finds the Door has been opened and the Wild Magic pushing it wider, straining to be released. The true king of Britain must close it again before the darker creatures are freed, and the Guardians must both convince and protect John long enough to be able to bring his magical heritage to bear. Even as they do battle with the wild and elusive spirits, they must contend with a more physical threat—Philip of France has decided that with King Richard absent on a failing Crusade, England is ripe for the taking. Sacrifices are made, politics played, love both found and unrequited, and throughout it all, the magical creatures vie for control of the mortal ones to rule the heart and soul of Britain. The wording is as elegant and graceful as a ballad, with a fine appreciation for the ancient stories of the faery folk, ley lines and Arthurian magic. The descriptions of the mythical characters such as the Green Knight, Lady of the Lake, andthe Green Man are traditionally rendered yet done with a jeweled polish. There is a feel of Tolkein in the casual magic and sense of established history among the characters that provides satisfaction along with plenty of strategy and romance. Some well-handled sexual situations. Perfect for reading on a long winter's night. Category: Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror. KLIATT Codes: JSA—Recommended for junior and senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2001, Penguin Putnam, Roc, 451p., Ages 13 to adult. Reviewer: Liz LaValley; Mattapoisett, MA
Library Journal
Upon succeeding his father to the throne of England, Richard called the Lion-Hearted accepts the temporal crown and the political power that comes with it but refuses a second crown bestowed upon him by older gods. In Richard's stead and at the price of his own good name, John Lackland takes up the charge of the true kingship of Britain, fighting a secret battle against supernatural foes. The author of Kingdom of the Grail continues her mystical exploration of England's rich body of legends as she weaves familiar tales of Robin Hood, Richard the Lion-Hearted, and the Sheriff of Nottingham into a new tapestry of myth and magic. Gracefully and convincingly told, this new look at an old story belongs in most fantasy collections. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Tarr returns to the Crusades fantasy begun with Queen of Swords (1997). Though crowned in a Christian ritual, Richard the Lionheart scorns being king of pagan Britain. He rides off to the Crusades, and William Longchamps, Bishop of Ely and Chancellor of England, is visited by an angel who tells him he must mend the walls that have been broken between England and the world of magic. Meanwhile, off in Anjou, the young infidel Turk Arslan ("Lion" in Turkish) finds that he is the bastard child of the immortal spirit of fire. A miraculous track through the forest leads Arslan to a blighted castle where a horned king tells him he must go to Britain and help mend the aforesaid broken wall. Able to write French and Latin, Arslan becomes clerk to Bishop Ely. The bisexual being Karim, sometimes a man, sometimes a woman, surrenders herself to Arslan, but back in Paris he must seduce the spirit Melusine to spy on a meetinghouse on the Left Bank. And yet other sorceresses arise with their eye on our harried Turk. Heavy mist from the ruby heart of swords and sorcery.

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.25(w) x 9.25(h) x 1.02(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
“Tarr spins an entertaining and often enlightening tale.”—The Washington Post

“Tarr excels at bringing historical events to life.”—Publishers Weekly

Meet the Author

Judith Tarr is a World Fantasy Award nominee best known for her historical novels, such as The White Mare’s Daughter, Lord of the Two Lands, Throne of Isis, King and Goddess, and Pillar of Fire. A graduate of Yale and Cambridge Universities, she holds degrees in ancient and medieval history, and breeds Lipizzan horses at Dancing Horse Farm, her home in Vail, Arizona.

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Pride of Kings 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this book expecting something that was historically dry. It surpassed my expectations within the first few pages. I thought that it was well written, engaging, and that all of the scenes were appropriate, including those that some would call 'distasteful'. It does show how 'real' people interact without being overtly lewd unlike many now popular TV shows. I rate this 5 stars, it was enjoyable and I look forward to reading more of Judith's books in the future.
Guest More than 1 year ago
My time is short and if a book doesn't engage me by the time I have read half of it--I toss it. I didn't finish this book. Although some might enjoy this type of alternative history, I found the magical realm convoluted the story line and the main characters rather predictable.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i really liked the idea of telling a story from prince john's point of view, and the meshing of history and fantasy. but did there really HAVE to be so many pornographic scenes? i realize that Judith Tarr was trying to emphasize peoples relationships, but there are much more tastefull ways to do that.
harstan More than 1 year ago
It is not generally known but on the day that Richard the Lionhearted was crowned King of England, he turned down another crown, which would have bound him to Great Britain in the Old Way. Richard chose the mundane over the mystical, leaving the island vulnerable to the evil spirits on the other side of the veil.

An innocent cleric is duped into opening the door to let unholy evil into the world. Only the ruler of Great Britain can close the door. Arslan, born of a Provence lord and a fire spirit is sent to John Lackland in England. John must put on the mantle his brother rejected. Arslan is very persuasive as are the other guardians and John proves his right to use the mystical forces to protect the land. However, he must do it secretly so Richard does not get wind of his plans and think he will try to overthrow him. John, using all the magic at his command, closes the door but the curse is not over yet. Danger lies in the form of Prince Philip of France, the mystical king of his land, who will willingly sacrifice the living to further his ambitions.

Judith Tarr has shown a John and Richard unlike those found in Shakespeare or Robin Hood. Using actual historical events, she weaves a different version of their actions during a troubled time. PRIDE OF KINGS is an epic fantasy work of alternate history that thoroughly enchants the reader with a powerful drama, mystical and earthly intrigue (both deadly), and vivid pageantry.

Harriet Klausner