Prince of Malorn by Annie Douglass Lima

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Desperate to build an army of his own to stand against the regent, Korram treks into the Impassable Mountains to try to recruit the one segment of Malornian society not under Rampus’s control. But can he lead a band of untrained hunters and gatherers to victory against the full might of the Malornian military? Or will they all be crushed by the grasping hand of the regent before the prince can claim his rightful throne?

By the time I’d read the first couple of chapters, I knew this book would be in my Top 10 for 2014 reads. By the time I was 1/3 of the way through, it had jumped to #1. I’ve finished it now, and I’ll just say it’s gonna be hard to beat. I. LOVED. this book!

I’d call this literary fiction in the fantasy genre in a camp with Lloyd Alexander’s “Chronicles of Prydain” series–particularly, “Taran Wanderer” (which was my favorite of the series). It’s deep, complex, and yet very easy to read.

Prince Korram needs help from the Mountain Folk in his kingdom if he’s ever going to get rid of Regent Rampus. But the Mountain Folk don’t like “Lowlanders”–and they don’t even know what a prince is! He learns their ways and endures their arduous “Rite of Acceptance” in an adventure that is really three novels in one: man vs. society, man vs. nature, and man vs. man. Literature teachers could have a heyday with this one.

This young king-to-be is everything you could want in a monarch. Oh, he’s not perfect, but he’s trying his best to rise to his call. Thrown into a society totally foreign to his own, he resolves conflicts and bridges cultural gaps in a way that shows diplomacy at its finest. I stayed up too late on many nights because I wanted to be sure things worked out for him. He is one of the best developed characters I’ve ever read and very much the kind of hero I’d like to see extolled in society over the womanizing shoot-em-up action stars of the day. I love Korram. He is powerfully authentic–both in his strengths and in his weaknesses–and I cheered for him all the way. By the end of the book, if you aren’t ready to sing at his coronation, you haven’t been paying attention.

I loved the different points of view used in the story, and the way that it overlapped with Prince of Alasia (first book in series Annals of Alasia). Lima always chose the most intriguing angle to “view” each scene.

She has created a believable and rich world. She has a gift for seeing things through the eyes of her diverse characters, and she brings you into Malorn and the daunting Impassables mountain range, or into the heat of battle in a way that you feel the biting cold, hear the goats bleating, taste the lumjum root, and jerk away from a falling sword. It’s a long book, but it’s worth the journey. It’s a spectacular book!

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