The Cripple and The King, A book published, copyright and written by Peter Hopkins.
The author has provided a fanciful story about the remnants of the ruling body of Nacia, an ancient empire clinging to part of its former territory. The capable ruler had been blinded by unknown perpetrators, forced to abdicate, and was replaced by his younger brother Lucan. Lucan had been married, in a desperate attempt to gain a political advantage, to Mila, sister of the ruler a powerful northern clan of sea-farers. She was attractive and strong-willed but they had managed to have a boy who would be next in line as Nacian’s ruler. Unfortunately, Lucan did not want to be king, preferred scholarly endeavors, was introspective, felt inadequate, was rude, despised physical activity and abhorred the unpleasant odors associated with most elements of living in those particular times. He hated his wife and could barely touch his son. He depended quite heavily upon a hunchback cripple who was both the castle torturer as well as resident medic and an old Captain of the Guard from days of the nation’s former glory as he manages to alienate just about everyone. Gradually, the captain insists upon teaching him the fundamentals of fighting and warfare and he discovers that some others close to him are loyal so he gradually begins to acquire, or bring forward some formerly unrecognized bits of sensible thought and planning, as he is beset with deceit, treachery and betrayal as the lords of his realm initiate war against him and each other and a huge fleet of foreign warships begin an attack from the north.
Discussion: The basic story is a variation of numerous tales arising from early world history that provides such a fertile source. Readers will find it interestingly presented but with characters with whom it may be difficult to equate, beginning with an incompetent, inconsiderate, self-centered protagonist. The pace of the action is good and he reader will find an extension of proceedings subsequent to the end of the story is a most interesting and thoughtful addition of pertinent material seldom provided by authors. The only ‘downside’ to the presentation are the occasional amusing malapropisms (e. g. the king gored, instead of gorged, himself on rich meats …) that no doubt are part of the number of proofing errors encountered.
Conclusion: Another interestingly told tale of the early somewhat mist enshrouded era when early people were struggling to build empires.
4* Interestingly told tale of early mist enshrouded empire building days.