cover image The Oddling Prince

The Oddling Prince

Nancy Springer. Tachyon, $15.95 trade paper (288p) ISBN 978-1-61696-289-0

The prolific Springer has written several pieces of Arthuriana, and this charming little book clearly uses some of the ideas and plot devices from the legends of Arthur while maintaining its own separate mythology. Aric, Prince of Calidon, is the son of King Bardaric, who is made very ill by a magical ring he is unable to take off. This causes the kingdom itself to become drought-ridden and insect-plagued, mirroring the king’s malady. When the king is saved by a mysterious elf who claims to be the king’s own son, Aric accepts the stranger as his friend and brother, but Bardaric cannot. The strain in the family becomes ever more intense, and the land does not return to normal. Aric must find some way of reconciling his father and his brother before starvation overtakes the country. The characters, especially the royal family, are delightful, and the plot resolves in a completely unexpected fashion, but the fuzzy, not-quite-legendary background, while pretty, is thin, and the prose is merely proficient. There is a great deal of fun to be had, but there’s not much going on below the surface. (May)