The Letter for the King
Publisher: Pushkin Children's Books
In the Kingdom of Dagonaut, those men who would swear fealty to the King as knights must spend a night in silent vigil contemplating the meaning of the oaths they must take; should they sleep, speak or leave the chapel they are not permitted to take up their offices. On one such evening, a young squire named Tiuri has his meditation disturbed by a desperate cry for help. Unable to let such a plea go unanswered, he forsakes his duty and his hopes for the future to assist, and in doing so is pulled into an adventure which will take him across the Great Mountains to the Kingdom of Unauwen to deliver an urgent message.
This is a charming story told simply and captivatingly. Tiuri is everything one might hope a knight to be: courageous, honourable, and just, his good character carries him through all manner of misadventures. Through his journey he meets a lively cast of heroes and villains, and he travels across a landscape of mysterious forests, perilous mountains, impenetrable fortresses and mighty rivers, all brought to life by Dragt’s beautiful illustrations. Originally published in Dutch, this is the first English translation of a classic of European children’s literature which, despite its slightly old-fashioned gender politics (there aren’t very many women in this story and those there are don’t do very much) deserves to be richly treasured.