The Prince of Alasia (The Annals of Alasia Book 1) by Annie Douglass Lima
The Prince of Alasia is one of three books in this series written for middle grade and young adults. The books in this series are not necessarily written in chronological order since their events overlap somewhat. The other books are: In the Enemy’s Service and The Prince of Malorn. According to a recent post on the author’s blog, a fourth book in this group is being worked on now and may be ready for publishing by the end of this year. It will be called The King of Malorn. It seems that The Prince of Malorn is the story of Prince Korram and the events that lead up to the invasion of Alasia. While knowing this story would be helpful in understanding the end portion of The Prince of Alasia, the book can be read and enjoyed on its own.
Jaymin, the young Prince of Alasia, woke up to the sound of clashing swords, yelling and screams. His bodyguard and best friend, Erik, was alert instantly, ready to protect His Highness when Sir Edmend, a loyal member of the King’s Counsel, burst into the room with his own bodyguard. The four slipped through the hallways, running for their lives from the enemy attackers. Entering the secret tunnel under the palace, they moved quickly away from the conflict and into the thick woods at the far end. The Prince had only to look at the grimness of Sir Edmend’s face to know that his royal family had not escaped alive.
Sir Edmend took the two boys to the remote village of Drall and established living quarters with an elderly woman who had an attic room she was willing to rent to them. Prince Jaymin and Erik were to dress and act like the common village lads to blend in. There they lived as long as it was necessary to stay hidden from the Malornian soldiers.
Jaymin and Erik experienced plenty of adventures trying to avoid the enemy troops stationed in the village. They became adept at dodging around corners and into dark alleys. Eventually it became necessary for them to attend school with the other local children. To blend in, they had to act dull and slow-witted to avoid calling attention to themselves. The Prince did not like living a lie, but he had no choice.
After school hours the two friends sought refuge in the surrounding forest where they practiced their combat skills and continued their physical training. Back in the dismal attic room, they quizzed each other on geography and history and complex mathematics problems to keep their minds sharp and alert. Jaymin was getting his eyes opened to the deplorable living conditions of the poor in his kingdom. The old woman’s cooking was wretched and the boys often went hungry because she too often spent the money given her by Sir Edmend on liquor instead of good food. The Prince kept all his observations in the back of his mind, just in case he returned some day to rule Alasia.
I enjoyed reading this action-packed adventure. It is just the kind of story that would appeal to middle grade young people. The author successfully creates a world with just enough historical background to make an interesting world for two young boys to live in on their own. There is a reasonable amount of conflict to keep the Prince and his protector alert but not enough evil to overshadow the atmosphere of adventure.
In addition to the creation of believable circumstances, the author writes warm three-dimensional characters with dialogue that fits the historical context yet easy for a young reader to be comfortable with. Jaymin and Erik’s witty and playful interactions allow the reader to get to know the boys and feel the bond between them. I found it easy to see that their friendship would be one that would stay strong over the years ahead.
While the two blended in at school, Sir Edmend disguised himself as a common merchant and scouted the countryside for survivors of the attack. He slipped in and out of surrounding towns to gather information, locating the kingdom’s armies and providing them with food and supplies. From time to time he snuck back into Drall to bring information to the Prince and check on him. But suspense turned palpable when it became obvious that the invaders knew the young ruler was still alive and had escaped the palace. The military started scouring the villages for him. The boys barely escaped an attempt to search the school they were attending. Would young Prince Jaymin survive to govern his people?
My favorite character in this book is Erik, the skilled bodyguard. By necessity, the Prince’s character was fairly predictable while Erik, in contrast, sparkled with wit. He was wise but mischievous. He was always alert to danger yet a risk taker. He was intelligent but also street smart and a tough and scrappy fighter. His character was the perfect foil for the more serious and cautious Prince. I couldn’t help but be drawn to him.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a free copy of this book from Smashwords on behalf of the author. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”