Motivated by jealousy and the desire to receive acclaim as a great poet, Walid ibn Huyr, a prince of ancient Arabia, commits acts which completely change the course of his life.
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Laura Gallego Garcia won the prestigious El Barco de Vapor Award for her novels Apocalypse and The Legend of the Wandering King. The author of fourteen books, she is currently studying medieval literature at the University of Valencia. She lives in Alboraya, Spain.From School Library Journal:
Grade 7-10–The author of several books in her native Spain, Gallego García has set this quasi-historical fable in pre-Islamic Arabia. Crown Prince Walid ibn Hujr, a fine prince, attentive, generous, and brave, has everything except for recognition as a poet. When for three consecutive years his perfect poems lose to an unknown at a competition, he devises an atrocious (and pointless) revenge. Alas, he is too flat a character to accommodate such a contradiction. Gallego García tells readers that her hero is courtly, open-minded, and friendly, but shows him as petty, vain, heartless, and deceitful. His sudden remorse is as unfounded as his initial cruelty, and his inaction and turnaround are equally inexplicable. There are fairy-tale elements here–a fantastic carpet, a wicked sidekick, a beautiful woman, a predictable narrative structure--but the central character is at once too good and too evil to believe in, and too clueless to care about. The setting is a sixth-century Arabian court, but readers don't experience its sounds, odors, or tastes. Walid learns not from his own experience, but via magic. The rival's winning poems succeed because they are real and have heart: unfortunately, this fiction doesn't. Its weighty pronouncements about art, fate, and responsibility are undercut by its thinness of character, texture, and morality.–Patricia D. Lothrop, St. George's School, Newport, RI
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