Roc, Sept 2001, 14.95, 464 pp.
It is not generally known but on the day that Richard the Lionhearted was crowned King of England, he turned down another crown, which would have bound him to Great Britain in the Old Way. Richard chose the mundane over the mystical, leaving the island vulnerable to the evil spirits on the other side of the veil.
An innocent cleric is duped into opening the door to let evil into the world. Only the ruler of Great Britain can close the door. Arslan, born of a Provence lord and a fire spirit is sent to John Lackland in England. John must put on the mantle his brother rejected. Arslan is very persuasive as are the other guardians and John proves his right to use the mystical forces to protect the land. However, he must do it secretly so Richard does not get wind of his plans and think he will try to overthrow him. John, using all the magic at his command, closes the door but the curse is not over yet. Danger lies in the form of Prince Philip of France, the mystical king of his land, who will willingly sacrifice the living to further his ambitions.
Judith Tarr has shown a John and Richard unlike those found in Shakespeare or Robin Hood. Using actual historical events, she weaves a different version of their actions during a troubled time. PRIDE OF KINGS is an epic fantasy work of alternate history that thoroughly enchants the reader with a powerful drama, mystical and earthly intrigue (both deadly), and vivid pageantry.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner