Also embroidering on Arthuriana, Elizabeth Wein's A Coalition of Lions (sequel to The Winter Prince) follows the daughter of the slain High King Artos and Ginevra to Aksum (Ethiopia), where she is to meet Constantine, her father's heir and the British ambassador. Steeped in historical and literary details and informed by detailed endnotes, the novel lays down a challenge to motivated readers. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
In this sequel to The Winter Prince, the battle of Camlan has been lost. Arthur and his loyal followers lie dead. Goewin, Arthur's daughter, is one of the few survivors. She is in grave danger when her aunt, Morgause, promises a large reward for killing her. With few left to protect her, Goewin must flee England. She decides to go to Aksum in Africa, a Christian country with strong ties to England. When she arrives in Aksum, she seeks out Constantine, the British ambassador to Aksum and the man Arthur intended for her to marry. Goewin has the power to choose whether to marry him and whether to name him as Arthur's successor. Goewin's story is filled with heroism, adventure, and treachery as she courageously seeks allies to help her return to England. The challenges she faces help her decide what will be best for England's future. In a historical note, the author mentions the evidence that led her to link Arthur's England with Aksum (now Eritrea and Ethiopia) and describes the thorough research she did to make her descriptions of sixth century Aksum as authentic as possible. She has also included a glossary, but she weaves the unusual words so skillfully into her text that the reader usually can correctly guess the meaning. The list defining the characters is quite helpful when many characters appear early in the story. Ms. Wein has a B.A. from Yale and a Ph.D. from University of Pennsylvania. She and her husband now live in Scotland. 2003, Viking/Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers,
Janet Crane Barley
This follows The Winter Prince and is part of a planned "ongoing Arthurian cycle." It is quite amazing—and quite demanding of the reader as well. To appreciate the book, the reader needs to know something already of the basic King Arthur legend. But the names in Wein's book are not in the familiar form; for instance, Arthur is referred to as Artos. The narrator is the daughter of Arthur and Guinevere, whose name is Goewin. Her family has a tie with the Ethiopian royal family, and this story takes place in Ethiopia—in the 6th century. All the Ethiopian names are challenging as well; fortunately, there is a glossary at the end of the novel, which helps quite a bit. I'm sure that having read The Winter Prince will also help orient the reader in this second book of the cycle. Goewin arrives in Ethiopia after the devastation of her father's death at the hand of his illegitimate son, called Medraut in this story. She discovers that before her half-brother, the heir to Arthur's throne, disappeared, he fathered a child with an Ethiopian princess. This charming boy is a main character, even though he is still a child. Goewin finds the Ethiopian royal family in disarray—feuding, accusing. In this segment of the larger story, Goewin journeys to a monastery in the cliffs where amazingly she finds her brother Medraut alive but mute, burdened with the guilt of having killed his own father. She is in love with an Ethiopian prince, Ras Priamos, who has been the ambassador to Britain, but is now accused of being a traitor in his family. She is engaged to marry her cousin Constantine, Artos's heir, now the Viceroy of Ethiopia. Somehow Goewin must secure the succession of the thrones, both in Britain andalso in Ethiopia, to bring stability and peace to both nations. Wein, like Rosemary Sutcliffe before her, is a scholar who has chosen to write historical fiction for young people. She treats her readers with great respect and honors them with careful re-creation of places and people in the past. Her style is haunting, her characters memorable. She writes in the context of the great themes of literature and life: the love and competition between brothers; the corruption of power; guilt; forbidden love; loyalty. KLIATT Codes: JS—Recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2003, Penguin Putnam, Viking, 210p.,
Gr 7 Up-In this story set in sixth-century Africa, Goewin, Princess of Britain, journeys to Aksum (now Ethiopia) after her father, brother, and half brother are killed in battle, to meet with Constantine, her cousin and intended husband, now the Viceroy of Aksum. There Goewin finds a kingdom mired in political unrest and intrigue amid divided loyalties. She also encounters a host of interesting people, including the son of her half brother; the boy's mother; and Priamos, one of several sons of the emperor, Caleb. The child Telemakos is wise for his years and he and his mother become Goewin's confidants and protectors. Goewin is a strong character, asserting her rights as the last survivor of her royal family and finding her way into the more isolated parts of the extended family. She is willing to take risks, expanding her circle of people in defiance of Constantine's wishes. For this she is eventually placed under guard and later, accompanied by Telemakos, escapes to safety through the dark tunnel of a tomb. This is a complex, but beautifully written story with many significant characters, some of whom are referred to by two different names. This makes it a fairly challenging book to read, but for teens who enjoy historical fiction, it will be a rewarding experience. This book is part two of a projected trilogy that began with The Winter Prince (Atheneum, 1993). The maps at the front and the appended list of characters and glossary will help keep readers on track.-Jane G. Connor, South Carolina State Library, Columbia Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
A gorgeously imagined and wildly exciting historical narrative, combining Arthurian legend with the kingdom of Aksum (Ethiopia). While Wein mines the inexhaustible treasury of Arthur, as she did in her first installment, The Winter Prince (1993), she makes it very new. Goewin, twin sister of Lleu, half-sister to Medraut, and daughter of Artos, high king of Britain, tells the story. After the deaths of her whole family, with Morgause, her father’s sister, calling for her own death, Goewin flees Britain for the court of Aksum in the company of the Aksum ambassador to Britain, Priamos. Her betrothed, Constantine, is Britain’s ambassador to Aksum, as Medraut was before him. Goewin can call Constantine home to Britain to assume the throne; she finds him harsh and unkind, though a good leader. In Aksum, she also finds Telemakos, the child who combines Medraut’s white-gold hair with the copper skin of his mother, and the preternatural calm intelligence of both parents. Constantine treats Priamos with fear, and Goewin uses what power she can wield to protect both him and the child, but not to her desired ends. Readers will eagerly await the next in Wein’s cycle. (maps, glossary, historical note, list of characters) (Historical fiction. 12+)