Monday, July 29, 2013

The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom

The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom (The League of Princes, #1)The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Four princes who hate to be called charming start a quest to win fame and honor - and possibly save a kingdom or two.

You know their stories, but it's unlikely that you've heard the names Liam, Duncan, Gustav and Frederic. Probably because you've heard of Briar Rose, Snow White, Rapunzel, and Cinderella instead. Those bards have a lot to answer for - and one irritated witch is determined to make them pay.

The Princes Charming
It all begins when Ella, instead of living her happily ever after with fashion and safety-obsessed Prince Charming (Frederic), goes on a quest to put the excitement back in her sheltered life. Frederic follows soon after, and runs into Prince Charming (Gustav of Rapunzel's story, a hulking warrior with a chip on his shoulder as a result of being the youngest of 16 daring brothers), Prince Charming (Liam, of Sleeping Beauty's story, the perfect hero but a little too in love with the adulation of his subjects), and of course, Prince Charming (Duncan, a sweet weirdo who found his perfect woman in Snow White).

This ill-assembled team stumbles through misadventure, slowly realizing the witch's dastardly schemes and springing to the rescue. Eventually. Going several directions at once. They run into beet-eating trolls, fierce giants, dragons, and one very naughty Bandit King. Along their road they are helped by super-accomplished dwarves, assorted princesses, and a bit of dumb luck. (Very dumb.)

It's an adventure story sure to appeal to fans of fractured fairy tales with plenty of tongue-in-cheek action, and is also the first in The League of Princes novels. Anyone who loves William Goldman's The Princess Bride is sure to be charmed; it may also appeal to fans of the funny Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones.

It's beautifully illustrated by artist Todd Harris, who gives appealing faces to our heroic men and women, plus assorted creatures and elements of their fairy tale world.

"All the princes had their issues - Frederic was easily intimidated, Liam's ego could stand to be reined in a bit, and Gustav could use some impulse control - but Duncan was flat-out strange." - 83

"On still another road, a green-haired man wobbled by on peppermint-stick stilts; a fiery-plumed bird of paradise perched on his shoulder. But he's not in this story, so don't pay any attention to him." - 212

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