Monday, August 15, 2011

Kingdom in the Balance

Debra Killeen

Helm Publishing (2011)
ISBN 9780983010937
Reviewed by Ben Weldon (age 14) for Reader Views Kids

"Kingdom in the Balance" by Debra Killeen is the story of several kingdoms that are plunged into chaos by the demise of their rulers.  Several kingdoms threaten war, and others attempt and fail to withdraw from the oncoming events.  Connected by marriage, royals are unwillingly thrust into battles they would otherwise avoid.  Everything depends on the outcome of these individual battles between royals.  They are truly kingdoms in the balance.

When the King of Esterlyn was found dead, killed by disease, chaos ensued.  Also on this dark day the two-year-old King of Wyckendom was found murdered in his bed.  And then, to make matters worse, the Prince of Esterlyn, due to be crowned, was abducted by a vicious band of vagabonds interested only in helping a more distant evil prince ascend to the throne.  Four friends from a nearby duchy set out to find the missing heir.  But with many obstacles in their path, will they find the missing prince before he is killed?

For all the fighting that went on in this book, there was little blood.  It was almost all verbal sparring and threats.  The verbal sparring made it rather complex as you would have to mentally connect the previous threats to get the full message.

The book made for an interesting read as I was able to learn a little about how the medieval feudal system worked with respect to inheriting the throne.  The book was somewhat confusing and had about four different plot lines all going at once.  These plot lines include things like an unknown heir unexpectedly showing up and royalty unwilling to renounce their king.  Several characters had dalliances which some parents might find inappropriate for young readers.       

I would recommend "Kingdom in the Balance" to people who like books centered on a very politically-based storyline.  This was the fifth book in a series and I highly recommend that you read the preceding books first.  I had not read the previous books and had a hard time understanding several things that required knowing information from the other books.  This was a rather slow book, but became much more interesting towards the end and I began to enjoy it very much.