CM . . .
. Volume XX Number 31. . . .April 11, 2014
The Queen’s Pawn.
R. J. Hore.
High River, AB: BURST/Champagne Books (www.burstbooks.ca or www.champagnebooks.com), 2013.
261 pp., trade pbk., $14.95.
Grades 7-11 / Ages 12-16.
Review by Laura Dunford.
Now began an invisible duel, leering wizard matched against stiff, unyielding Queen. Drool trickled from his lips as he reached out skeletal hands for her. The queen's trembling fingers tried to untangle her scarf and set another stone in her homemade sling. Machia gestured casually and she failed, the pebble tumbling to the floor at her feet. The wizard chuckled.
With a roar, Harow lunged forward, swinging the heavy sword at the shadowed form of the mage, and aiming straight ahead, where the normal sized man might stand amidst the shimmer and glow. The smoky shape stared, then turned upon Harow enraged, gesturing madly with transparent hands. The sword sliced through the mists and shadows, connecting with something solid.
The Queen's Pawn is a relentless adventure that begins in the middle of a city under siege. Young scholar Harlow comes across the fatally wounded Lord Rickard. Harlow bears an uncanny resemblance to the infamously courageous Duke who charges the young man to complete Rickard's mission: tell Queen Reginee her husband is dead and the royal family betrayed, and get the Queen and her daughter to safety. In his efforts to fulfill his promise, Harlow takes on the Duke's identity and struggles to live up to Rickard's reputation.
This fantasy is filled with suspense, a bit of romance and a lot of adventure. Harlow faces off against the armies, fairies, sirens, giants, and wizards. The Queen's Pawn may primarily appeal to young male readers and is best suited to audiences looking for pure entertainment. While a few loose ends are left dangling and Harlow's relationships with the Queen and her daughter become a bit muddled, there is no denying this is a great book for a young teen who enjoys fantastic feats of bravery and magic.
Laura Dunford is a graduate of the Master of Arts in Children’s Literature program at the University of British Columbia.
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