Monday, September 01, 2008

The City in the Lake (book review)

Book review by The Movie Snob

The City in the Lake, by Rachel Neumeier (Knopf 2008). This is a fantasy novel about a magical Kingdom and what happens when its beloved Prince, heir to the throne, mysteriously disappears while out riding in the countryside. Meanwhile, in a tiny village in a remote part of the Kingdom, a girl named Timou is growing up with her father, a mysterious mage named Kapoen. He willingly teaches her the ways of magecraft, but of her mother, whom Timou never knew, he will not say a word. The Prince’s disappearance causes ill effects throughout the Kingdom, even reaching Timou’s village, and eventually Kapoen sets out for the City in the Lake to offer his services to the King. When he does not return, 17-year-old Timou sets out after him, and that quest sets in motion the adventures that are the main action of the book.

I haven’t read a fantasy novel in years, but I liked this, Neumeier’s first novel, a lot. Although aimed at a teenaged audience, it is sophisticated enough for adults to enjoy as well. It contains some violence and cruelty, but nothing gory or gruesome. And although it contains no sex, the Kingdom is not ignorant of the birds and the bees; indeed, the first main character we meet is the King’s illegitimate son, called Lord Bastard behind his back by the King’s subjects. All of which is to say this is no mere children’s tale, but a thoughtful and thought-provoking adventure story. I recommend it. (Full disclosure: Neumeier is a cousin of mine. Now, get out there and buy this book!)


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