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    PRIDE OF KINGS by Judith Tarr

    ROC, September 2001

    Britain is torn. The wild magic strains from too long a wait for the true king and now Richard The Lion Hearted, King of England, wants nothing to do with his kingdom except to plunder it for silver to pay for his crusade. In desperation, Britain's magical defenders turn to the one man who wants Britain--Prince John.

    With a human for his father and a fire spirit for his mother, Arslan's goal is to return to the Outremer, the thin wall of Crusader states still standing in the east after the loss of Jerusalem to the Saracens. Yet his dreams insist that he has another fate--to serve the new king of Britain. Arslan, accompanied by two Turkish warriors, joins with John in his quest to repair the kingdom. Each of them must pay a terrible price. Arslan and the Turks will never return to the place of their birth. John will forever live in human memory as the traitor to his brother and the man who lost the ancestral lands of Normandy to the French.

    When Richard is captured by the Germans and Phillip of France decides to invade England, John, Arslan, and the guardians of Britain must play a delicate game of deception and warfare that is armed as much by magic as by steel.

    Author Judith Tarr (see more reviews of novels by this author) does a wonderful job blending history with magic. To Tarr, the kingdoms themselves are somehow alive, protected by powerful spirits that have their own goals and limitations. Richard, John, and Eleanor of Aquitaine all feel true to history. The magical characters, Turks, and Arslan himself are interesting but lack some of the dimensionality that the historical characters hold.

    PRIDE OF KINGS might have been profitably edited to give it more impact, but is certainly an enjoyable read.

    Three Stars

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