Lloyd Alexander is known for his Prydain novels (The High King, Book of Three, etc.), but he has written a number of other books. Some of my favorites were the Westmark series. I read them several times as an early teen and was feeling nostalgic and decided to track them down. They are not available on kindle, so I found an old paperback copy.
Westmark is a fictional monarchy in a world that seems very much like 18th century europe. It is a relatively small kingdom. But it has seen better days. The king, since his daughter disappeared (and presumably died), has become despondent and reclusive. In the eight years she has been gone, one of the king’s advisors has slowly taken over the kingdom and turned it into a tyranny.
Theo is a young apprentice printer, when he accepts a job to print a pamphlet without government approval, soldiers destroy the printshop. In the malay, one of the soldier’s guns goes off and shoots another soldier and Theo is blamed.
Theo escapes and eventually meets up with a con-artist and a girl, Mickle. Mickle teaches Theo the ways of the con and Theo teaches Mickle to read. Eventually Theo believes he has to leave to keep Mickle safe from soldiers and Theo falls in with revolutionaries that want to overthrow the corrupt throne.
The story continues. It feels a bit like a young adult version of Les Mis without many of the extra subplots. It is written for slightly older teens than the Prydain books, but not much older (12-15 year olds). There is a chaste romance within the book but that is not its main thrust. It is more of an action adventure book.
The first book is a good, but it is only a basic story line that is really a set up to the second book. I had fond memories of this series and I was fairly satisfied. Some young adult books stand up better than others to adult readings. The story line of this book is simple and it is a very quick read. But it is not a badly written book. But it was the second two books in the series that I really most remembered. I will post on them later this week.
Westmark Purchase Links: Paperback
Other Bookwi.se Reviews of Lloyd Alexander Books
- The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander
- The Black Cauldron by Lloyd Alexander
- Castle of Llyr by Lloyd Alexander
- Taran Wanderer by Lloyd Alexander
- The High King by Lloyd Alexander