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The Little Lame Prince and His Travelling Cloak: 01/02/09
Tonight we're home after a two week trip to Southern California. We didn't travel by anything as magical as Prince Dolor's travelling cloak. Instead it was a long drive down and a long drive home. We had rain going and coming and bad traffic twice. We also had a stomach flu attack on today's ride home.
During one of these long drives, I read The Little Lame Prince and His Travelling Cloak by Dinah Muloc Craik. I had high expectations for the book. It came with a sentimental recommendation from a dear friend. I was reading an old, well-read copy with delightful illustrations. Despite all these positives, I loathed the story.
Prince Dolor is paralyzed by his nurse, orphaned and locked away in a tower all in the first chapter or two. Before all this tragedy is heaped on Craik manages to create an interesting kingdom rich with traditions but she tosses this all aside to instead create a miserable childhood for her royal protagonist.
I realize that the orphan protagonist is a mainstay of the fairytale and of children's fiction but it took a potentially interesting fantasy story and turned it into just another run of the mill fairytale. The book does eventually redeem itself when the teenage prince confronts his uncle who usurped his throne and imprisoned him in the tower for all those years. His reaction to his imprisonment was interesting and and unexpectedly wise. But this moment of maturity from King Dolor is short-lived and the book goes back to being just another fairytale.
So out of fourteen chapters, it has two brilliant chapters and twelve ho-hum chapters. If you like Victorian fantasy and haven't read it, you should check it out. Harry Potter fans might also like it. Everyone else can take it or leave it.
Comment #1: Wednesday, January, 7, 2009 at 14:03:37
I saw a production of The Illusion, translated by Ranjit Bolt, at the Old Vic in London years ago. It was absolutely brilliant and I'd agree that anyone who gets the chance should to see it.
Comment #2: Saturday, January 10, 2009 at 20:40:13
Excellent. I hope to have the chance to see it performed some day. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.