cover image The Castle of Kings

The Castle of Kings

Oliver Potzsch. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $28 (672p) ISBN 978-0-544-31951-6

It's 1524 in what is now Germany, and 16-year-old countess Lady Agnes, daughter of the castellan of Trifels Castle, loves nothing more than eschewing dresses and spending time with her falcon, Percival. Meanwhile, her dear friend, 17-year-old Mathis Weilenbach, is fascinated by the possibilities presented by gunpowder, and he's not afraid to experiment. When Agnes finds a ring attached to Percival's foot, she's mystified and determined to find out where it came from. Her confidant, Father Tristan, seems to know something relevant but is hesitant to share it. Soon, Mathis is caught up in a rebellion that's fueled by peasants tired of struggling when nobles and the clergy drape themselves in finery. He's horrified by the bloodshed and, along with Agnes, goes on the run. P%C3%B6tzsch (The Hangman's Daughter) packs a dizzying amount into this hefty novel, which spans two years: battles, romance, rebellion, jailbreaks, robber knights, treasure hunts, and above all, a heroine who is not afraid to defy her station or the constraints of her gender. Historical fans will find much to love in the immersive worldbuilding and fully realized characters. (July)