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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Every Inch a King by Harry Turtledove

Genre: Fantasy

Setting: A fantasy world where magic works, and fantastical creatures exist.

First Sentence: I'm Otto of Schlepsig.

Otto and his friend Max are performers in a third rate traveling circus.  Max is a sword swallower with a cough.  Otto is an acrobat and tight rope walker.

Then, one day the newspapers announce that Schlepsig, a small province in a faraway land, has asked Prince Halim Eddin to be their king. The prince looks exactly like Otto.  Otto sees his chance to pull off an amazing con.  On the upside, Otto could become a king with all those kingly perks: power, wealth, and a harem.  On the down side, Otto and Max could lose their heads.

As Otto and Max travel to Schlepsig, Turtledove reveals the fantasy of this strange world.  There are dragons and sea serpents.  There are vampires and werewolves.  And there is magic and witchcraft.

As Turtledove describes the people and cultures we can see parallels to our own world.  There are cultures that remind us of German, French and Spanish cultures.  There is a country far to the West called Vespucciland.  And there is a nod to old Ma Bell - there is an efficient network of crystal ball readers who provide long distance communication.

Can Otto and Max pull off this grand charade, of will they be discovered?

And what about the real Prince Halim?

I liked this book.  I am a fan of Turtledove's alternate history novels.  This novel had a cute premise which attracted my interest.  The novel drags when the author discusses the different countries and cultures, all of whom have invented names with exotic spellings. However, Turtledove liberally sprinkles the novel with esoteric puns and word plays which make the novel fun to read.

Overall, an OK book, but not one of Turtledove's best.

Every Inch a King

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