cover image The Remarkable Journey of Prince Jen

The Remarkable Journey of Prince Jen

Lloyd Alexander. Dutton Books, $17.99 (288pp) ISBN 978-0-525-44826-6

When Prince Jen hears of the happy, prosperous land of T'ien-kuo, he vows to seek out its ruler and learn from his example. And so he sets out, bearing six humble gifts for the emperor of T'ien-kuo. Readers versed in the logic of fairy tales will not be surprised when Jen's route veers from his original plan and the six gifts end up in hands other than those of T'ien-kuo's lord. Along the way, Jen falls in love, has a number of run-ins with an ambitious, bloodthirsty bandit and slowly descends from his exalted station until he is condemned to wear the cangue, a heavy wooden collar for criminals. In the novel's final scenes, the gifts and their new owners return to play an important part in Jen's struggle to save his life and kingdom. Although patchy character development slows the narrative in places, the elegant, almost archetypal plot offers considerable enjoyment. Prince Jen's travels are pleasantly reminiscent of the series of coming-of-age journeys found in the author's earlier Prydain Chronicles. Ages 10-up. (Oct.)