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Crescent Blues Book ViewsImage:three and a half moon gifROC Fantasy (Trade Paperback), ISBN 0-451-45847-8
Using characters both real and unreal, Judith Tarr gives new meaning to the phrase "historical fantasy." Pride of Kings isn't an exception -- but, take my word for it, it is exceptional. And it certainly adds new dimensions to Richard the Lionhearted and his brother, John, called Lackland.

Book: Judith Tarr, Pride of kingsAt his coronation as England's king, Richard finds himself offered two crowns: the mortal and the magical. Wanting earthly glory and possessing only mortal faith, Richard declines the pagan crown and rides off on a crusade, leaving his new kingdom defenseless. Some unknown entity brings down the wall between worlds, and a gathering of dark powers wait to cross over into England. Only a youth born of fire and man (you'll need to read the book to learn what that means) can hope to halt them, and even he might fail.

Arslan, the youth who can walk between worlds and speak with spirits, follows the summoning sent to him in dreams. Destined to help England (a country completely foreign to him) and to swear loyalty to a complete stranger, Arslan crosses the English Channel and meets John. John accepts the other crown, the one that gives him dominion over creatures unseen. Now, two wars loom for England to win or lose. One could weaken Richard's mortal empire. And the other war could destroy the world.

If you never ventured into Judith Tarr's world of fact and fancy, I urge you to do so. Her fictional history will leave you hard put to distinguish between historical fact and the products of her incredible imagination. As an added bonus, she even manages to insert a not-entirely-mortal love story into the tale of high magic and low dastardly deeds.

Patricia Lucas White

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