Sunday, June 21, 2009

In the shadow of the Palace by Judith A Simpson

Warning here is another title with a sequel and the ending is a cliff hanger and alas the sequel is not yet published but don’t let this put you off. Get your hands on In the Shadow of the Palace and read it today. This is a marvelous book set in the mystic and colourful culture of India.

If you enjoyed the Sun Sword trilogy and you are perhaps a fan of Tamora Pierce, especially her series Protector of the small about Keladry with the titles First Test, Page, Squire and Lady Knight then you will adore this book.

Just as with the Sun Sword books the opening scene is a kidnapping. This time it is of three Indian princesses at their betrothal ceremony. In a nice twist it is the middle daughter who has to change into a boy to disguise herself in the far away kingdom where all three are taken. Rani must learn to shoot arrows, fight with a sword and stop arguing like a girl! Only one high ranking officer seems suspicious of the new recruit Ram, as Rani calls herself. There is just the tiniest shimmer of love in the air between these two although the story does not go for long enough for this to be discovered by Rani or Sanjay.

There is an excellent glossary to help with Indian terminology but I rarely referred to this as the contexts usually explained the meanings. I think readers in senior primary will love this action packed exotic story. As a bonus for readers Judith Simpson is an Australian author. I also appreciated the larger print size and use of white space. There was no effort involved in reading this engrossing story and there were just enough twists to keep me coming back with great anticipation over the last couple of days.

On the morning of the kidnapping the girls are put into beautiful robes. “She had never worn so much jewellery. It covered her neck, her arms and her ankles and she tinkled, clinked and jangled as she walked. She felt grand but uncomfortable…Rani felt so heavy she was sure she would sing into the earth as she walked.”
Just like Rangers Apprentice and Sun Sword this is a book about friendship, loyalty, over coming prejudices about class and the victory of good over evil. As our four heroes ride off to continue their adventure I will eagerly await the sequel hope it is not too far away.

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