The Eyes of a King: The Last Descendants #1 (英语)
In a fantasy marked by invention rarely seen from authors this young (Banner, currently 19, started the novel when she was 14), 15-year-old Leo learns that his kingdom’s lost prince may have been exiled to a “fairy story” land called England. The novel’s complicated structure, mixing Leo’s first-person memoir with legendlike snippets from an enchanted book, showcases Banner’s ability to create distinct narrative voices. She also makes some bold choices, from casting contemporary reality as a foreign, faraway realm to strongly focusing on characters on the periphery of the large-scale political machinations. At times, Banner’s dissection of Leo’s inner life, which turns unremittingly grim following several hard turns of fate, slows the novel’s momentum. Even so, readers who don’t necessarily crave tidy, joyful closure will find much to relish in this textured fantasy, well cued to fans of Megan Whalen Turner (for her character-driven political plots) and Garth Nix (for the Sabriel series’ fresh interplay between parallel realities). In the bargain, they’ll get a sneak peek at a rising talent in the bargain. Grades 7-11. --Jennifer Mattson
From School Library Journal
Grade 6–9—Two 15-year-old boys' lives are connected through parallel worlds—one medieval, one present day—in this debut fantasy. Leo's routine life in his medieval country of Malonia changes after he finds a powerful blank book that mysteriously writes itself in two stories. One reveals how the present King Lucien usurped the throne from his brother, the rightful ruler. Lucien had his brother assassinated but spared his young son, his nephew Prince Ryan. Aldebaran, Leo's great uncle, a powerful seer, prophesied that whoever harmed the prince would receive the same fate. Ryan is exiled to a mystical place called England where he lives while waiting to return to his homeland. A magical necklace belonging to Ryan's family also disappeared when he was exiled. Anna, 15, lives in modern-day England and inherits her grandmother's necklace. This is the first book in a proposed trilogy. The parallel worlds are well realized, particularly Malonia, but the characters lack depth. The book is confusing at times, and Leo's story goes on for too long. Several tragic events cause him to become depressed, and his constant crying gets tedious. There is more emphasis on his story than on Ryan's, but Ryan is more likable and his story more relevant to contemporary teens. Fantasy readers who like multilayered plots will pick up this lengthy book, but they may not stick with it.—Sharon Rawlins, New Jersey State Library, Trenton
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Catherine Banner began writing The Eyes of a King when she was 14 years old. And now, at age 18, she’s busy at work on the next two books in the trilogy. She lives in England.
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Fifteen years ago, the great Aldebaran wrote a prophecy that the young king and queen of Malonia would die, but that their son, the young prince, would live to reign over Malonia. Five years later, however, the prophecy seemed to come true, when the young Donahne royals were murdered during a hostile coup led by Lucien Kalitz. Rumors swirled that the young prince had survived and possibly had been exiled to the fabled England (the same place where Aldebaran was thought to have disappeared to years earlier). It seemed as though the wealth and good fortune of Malonia would be restored once again. As years went by, however, hope ebbed away and the supposed prophecy was reduced to a mere fairy tale.
Leo doesn't know whether or not to believe the story, but he does know that to have a book relating to the prophecy is dangerous. His father, Harold North, was an acclaimed writer when he wrote about the royal family and Aldebaran's prophecy in his book THE GOLDEN REIGN. It was banned shortly after it was published, and Leo's parents were forced to flee the country, leaving behind Leo and his younger brother Stirling to be cared for by their grandmother Margaret.
The relationship between the brothers is close, despite their differences, age or otherwise. Young Stirling hopes to be a priest someday and often likes to discuss what he learned in church or their father's books. Leo, on the other hand, has turned away from the church and doesn't care for school. The brothers attend one of the government-run military schools, which they each find difficult to learn from, especially when dealing with the abusive Sergeant Markey, who seems to single out the two boys. Following in their father's footsteps has also been greatly discouraged, a point that has made it difficult for Leo and his grandmother to get along.
Despite Leo's increasing frustration about his life and limited future, one bright development is the boys' friendship with Maria, also 15, who moved into their apartment complex with her infant son Anselm and her mother. Meanwhile, stories continue to appear in the book, seeming to confirm Leo's suspicions that the book is potent with magic, as they give some answers and more questions concerning (and intertwining) the histories of Malonia and Leo's own family.
However, when a tragic turn of events develops, Leo is set on a troubled path that will have him questioning the line between fantasy and reality.
With a mature, eloquent style rarely seen in a young adult author, Catherine Banner weaves an immensely gritty yet heartfelt saga about the choices that people are given, the decisions they make, and the dreams they cling to in the midst of challenging realities. THE EYES OF A KING is the first book in a projected trilogy that Banner began writing when she was just 14 years old. Based on this debut effort, her future as a writer is looking bright indeed.
--- Reviewed by Sarah Sawtelle
First off, the given synopsis doesn't really do justice to what this book truly is, which is a very dark journey through life under an oppressive government during the midst of war, and the psychological trauma of losing a family member who is the representation of hope and light in a family. Banner does a wonderful job of revealing the content throughout the novel, so as not to give the whole thing away immediately. However, it continues to move toward a very dark direction, and although I found myself wanting to continue reading in order to finish the story, personally, it became less enjoyable the further along I got in the book.
That's not to say, certainly, that I don't recommend this read, because I do, it's just that I would definitely consider this more on the literary side of the fantasy fiction spectrum. If you're looking for a fun, lighthearted fireside fantasy, this isn't the book for you. However, if you're looking for a well-written book with more of a literary bent that explores a world of magic and kingdom era war and weaponry in a more realistic way, then you will definitely enjoy this book.
-Lindsey Miller, [...].