Book Review: The High King

Author: Lloyd Alexander     Date: 1968

I’m afraid I have always had a weakness for a good fairy tale. By “good” I mean a classic or something likely to become a classic. There is a lot of down right junk in the fantasy genre. In fact, these days it’s hard to find something that isn’t junk. The High King was not junk. Granted, it is a children’s story but it carries a very important message: it is better to live for others than for yourself. In the story each of the main characters is forced to make a choice which will effect their own lives and those of their friends and prove for whom each person is living. As the companions journey across the magical land in which the dwell I could not help but be reminded of The Lord of the Rings but I think the reason for this was that both Tolkien and Alexander drew from the same sources rather than that one copied the other.

There was some magic involved in the story but I never felt uncomfortable with it. Indeed, the characters are constantly encouraged not to use magic in their mission accept where absolutely necessary . As one wise man states towards the end of the book magic just has a tendency to make men lazy. At the conclusion of the tale all of the magic is destroyed or given up, either by choice or by accident, and the people willingly choose to use their own hands and minds to rebuild their shattered world.

I very much enjoyed The High King. Like Rose in Bloom it is part of a series but I never felt lost as each character was introduced anew. It was a quick, fun Summertime book that also had many good qualities.

Quote Book

1. ” “Long ago I yearned to be a hero without knowing, in truth, what a hero was. Now, perhaps, I understand a little better. A grower of turnips or a shaper of clay, a common farmer or a king- every man is a hero if he strives more for others than for himself alone.”

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Book Review: Rose in Bloom

Author: Louisa May Alcott     Date: 1876

I will readily admit that I did not enjoy reading Little Women and the thought of reading another of Alcott’s later novels did not hold much attraction for me. Why did I choose to read it? I am, after all, no longer bound by the silken cords of “school reading”. Well, for some reason I had this peculiar notion of wanting a book whose author had a name bearing an “A” as it’s first letter and Alcott was the only tasteful author the library could afford me, at least, the only author who had written books which I had not read. At any rate I am pleased to announce that I did not find Rose in Bloom to be so dull as I had expected. On the contrary, it is quite a pleasurable story which leaves one with quite a pleasurable feeling. Though Rose’s difficulties as she wades through the joys, sorrows, loves and losses of her young adult life did not keep me on the edge of my seat they did find me wanting to know what would happen to her next.

Rose’s story, though written in a very different time, was very relevant to the respective stories of all of us who find ourselves presently in the same position which Alcott describes: ready to ford the river that separates the simple child from the mature adult. Rose must experience a great deal in the crossing and I was inspired by many of her trials and decisions as I found them similar to some of my own. There was one passage in particular (I have included a piece of it below) which brought back many memories, some of them rather recent, to my mind and greatly encouraged me.

Another quality the novel possesses is though it is a sequel I did not find it confusing having never read it’s predecessor. Though not a stunning piece of classic literature by any means Rose in Bloom was a delightful and wholesome book which I would gladly recommend to any of my acquaintance who are in their teenage years or older. Rose and her family fast become my friends and though their story will not be among my favorites it will always be well liked.

Quote Book

1. “With genius one can do anything: without it one had better let the stage alone.”

2. “Some novels are very useful and do as much good as sermons… because they not only describe truly, but teach so pleasantly that people like to learn in that way…”

3. The wisest things are sometimes the simplest… Everyone welcomes light and air, and cannot do without them: yet very few can explain them truly.”

4. ” “I know I ought to be contented, but I’m not. My life is very comfortable, but so very quiet and uneventful I get tired of it, and want to launch out as the others have, and do something, or at least try. I’m glad you think it isn’t very bad of me, and I’d like to know what my gift is,” said Rose, looking less despondent already.

“The art of living for others so patiently and sweetly that we enjoy it as we do the sunshine, and are not half grateful enough for the great blessing.”

“It is very kind of you to say so, but I think I’d like a little fun and fame, nevertheless,” and Rose did not look as grateful as she ought.

“Very natural, dear; but the fun and the fame do not last; while the memory of a real helper is kept green long after poetry is forgotten and music silent…” “