Sunday, February 10, 2013

Review: The Beggar Queen - Lloyd Alexander

The Beggar Queen by Lloyd Alexander
Series: Westmark Trilogy #3
Genre: Middle Grade, adventure
Published on April 12, 1984
Published by E.P. Dutton
Pages: 237
Read From: 1.23.13 - 1.31.13

The war within Regia is over, but the people who fought together for freedom now fight each other in the streets. Theo, Florian, and Justin, once comrades in arms, now leaders in Westmark's government, are themselves locked in conflict. 
At the center of the growing storm, the former waif and present queen, Mickle, faces an old enemy. Cabbarus, arming for invasion and a brutal seizure of power, striking at Marianstat, the very heart of the kingdom.


Cover Blurb: Yes or No? No. Again, I like that it indicates a historical setting, but the art is too block-ish, with harsh angles.

Characters: I have no complaints about them. They all stay steady, to the very end of this trilogy. Justin’s back story almost made me feel sorry for him, but I just didn’t trust him, and he was unnecessarily hard on Theo. Zara really stood out in this installment as a strong, no-nonsense female character. Theo’s continued struggles with himself would have gotten annoying if one, they weren’t so understandable, and two, if they had taken a bigger spot in the story. Weasel and Sparrow are all grown up in this book now, and I loved ‘em as much as I did in previous books.

The Romance: Theo and Mickle’s attachment continues to take somewhat of a backseat to the adventure, and it works. Though not much emphasis is put on their relationship, we Readers know that they love each other deeply, and they are both mature enough to set aside their disagreements in order to win the war.

Plot: Like with Westmark and The KestrelThe Beggar Queen wastes no time in launching into the action. A year has passed since the events in the previous book, and Duke Conrad is taking another go at Westmark - this time, with a plan that I do have to wonder why he didn’t attempt in the first place. Why didn’t he seek Cabbarus out in the first place and side with him? Why didn’t he try to dispose of his nephew, King Constantine, sooner? The latter event could be chalked down to Duke Conrad is just a coward, and Conrad actually does wonder why he didn’t do this in the first place. With the overall plot of The Beggar Queen, I think the Author could have paced himself with events, rather than rushing through them like he does. It’s still a very good plot, but the pace does rather leave the Reader wanting to shout, “Wait, stop! This is going too fast!”

Believability: Injuries and the like are very believable, as are the “military” roles the Author’s female characters take on. The war is on their doorstep; they need all the able bodies they can get.

Writing Style: As always, Lloyd Alexander’s writing style is simple, yet very engaging and emotional. Descriptions are rather scarce, and it could a little more with that, but overall his style is very pleasing.

Content: None.

Conclusion: The finale of the Westmark Trilogy is one of Lloyd Alexander’s more solid ends, but it still had its weak points. A lot of convenient things happen in order to make things easier for the protagonists. Cabbarus’s death is sudden and extremely well-timed, since it keeps Theo and Mickle from having to bluff their way out of things. The Author has a huge string of deaths, so he doesn’t have to wrap those characters’ stories up in the end. And then Florian’s past comes into play, and considering how big of a role it ends up playing, it definitely should have been more prominent beyond that very abrupt moment in The Kestrel. By the time it crops up in The Beggar Queen, the Reader will have forgotten all about it. But I will say this: a lot of what happens may be convenient, but it is also probable. There is a possibility of it happening in real life - just not a very high one. So overall, this final installment of the trilogy was a good one, filled with lots of action and character development - and deaths - and a fairly strong ending.

Recommended Audience: Girl-and-guy read, any age, fans of worlds that are heavily influenced by historical eras.

Others in This Trilogy:
2)The Kestrel
3)The Beggar Queen

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