"I cannot sleep unless I am surrounded by books."


Thursday, May 31, 2007

Live, From New York....8 cosas meme

Tired, hot, sticky, exhausted, elated, excited and thrilled I'm lounging in my friends apartment going through emails at the end of a long, long day. I got in to New York last night and promptly went out to Times Square, then back here to the theatre district for food.

This morning I hit the fashion district and made a HUGE dent in my wallet. Then I went to Javits to attend panels, pick up my press reg and attend the Latino Book Awards (more on that tomorrow). It's hot in New York, hot and sticky but that only slightly dims the charm for me. I used to live here and loved it but eventually got homesick and went home to L.A.

Every time I come back, I fall in love with the city again. I'm on the 19th floor here at my friend's apartment and have a gorgeous view of the whole city and the Empire State Building. I'm sitting on the balcony typing and watching the city at night. There is no where in the world like New York City - the only other place I could live besides L.A. It's lovely to be here.

Tomorrow, the exhibit hall opens and I can't wait. I'll try to post the news and views if I don't pass out from exhaustion.

While checking my email, I found I'd been tagged for the 8 things meme by Gail Gauthier at Original Content. Here goes nothing:

The rules:

Each player lists 8 facts/habits about themselves. The rules of the game are posted at the beginning before those facts/habits are listed. At the end of the post, the player then tags 8 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know that they have been tagged and asking them to read your blog.

Eight facts/ habits about me:

I'm speak Spanglish most of the time, de veras!
I'm Chicana (can't you tell?)
I'm an Aztec dancer
I am 45 and have four amazing children and ten grandchildren!!!
I love to cook and am quite good at it.
I have wonderful friends like the one that is letting me use his apartment while I'm here
I also work in Animation. Go here and see what I do: AWN.com
I love shoes - ask anyone.

Now to tag 8 people:

Tracy Grand - JacketFlap

oh to hell with it - It's one in the morning here and I'm beat. I can't find 8 people and comment.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

BEA Anyone?

Like many of my fellow book lovers, I will be at Book Expo America or BEA from May 31-June 3. It's my favorite conference ever. I'll be meeting up with fellow kidlitosphere bloggers, old friends and meeting new ones. There's panels aplenty and lots and lots of books.

My posting has been sparse because I'm in pre-BEA frenzy which means I've been setting up meetings using the My BEA tool, getting all my work done so I can leave my desk in a relatively neat state, making sure I have enough business cards, packing and the usual madness that begins the week before a trip.

I will be posting news on the conference every night on this blog so stay tuned. I'm bringing a camera so there will be photos of author signings, etc. I'm attending some very cool panels and the Latino Book Awards so look for news of that. I'm also attending the Children's Book and Author Breakfast and will be in the Saturday Book and Author Breakfast as well. It should be fun.

If you're attending and we haven't yet met, send me a note. I'd love to see you at BEA.

Friday, May 18, 2007

The Virgin’s Guide to Mexico

The Virgin’s Guide to Mexio
Author: Eric B. Martin

Publisher: MacAdam/Cage

ISBN-10: 1596922109

ISBN-13: 978-1596922105

The Virgin’s Guide to Mexico
is a compelling tale of a young girl and her search for identity. Alma, a bright but homely student who is nothing like her beautiful, Mexican mother decides to take a year off after being accepted into Harvard. She plans to go to Spain but her parents don’t allow it so she’s stuck in Texas having to go to the local college for a year.

Alma finds some letters of her mothers from a grandfather she never knew she had that lives in Mexico. Curious as to why her mother never speaks of her life in Mexico and having that typical teenage disdain for her parents, she runs away to find her grandfather and the secrets her mother hides.
Alma hopes that Mexico will welcome her. She has a vision of Mexico as something out of a dream, a warm and welcoming place. She’ll find her grandfather and somehow, everything will be better.

Alma’s first foray into Mexico is frightening so she heads back into the US, disguises herself as a boy and attaches herself to a group of guys heading over the border.

Through Alma’s eyes we find out about the true Mexico, not the beautiful imagined dream. There are strange characters and unsavory ones, a strange old man who lives in a shack filled with beautiful paintings and the guys she hangs out with. The underbelly of Mexico is exposed with visits to whorehouses, bars and parties. Underneath the beautifully written prose is this dark hint of menace throughout. It’s a little unsettling and keeps you riveted to the page.

Alma’s quest alternates with that of her parent’s to find her. Her beautiful mother wonders what she did wrong, while her dot com rich father is determined to find her.

Eric B. Martin weaves a multi-dimensional and emotional tale of love, secrets, misunderstandings and modern Mexico. He sheds light on the tremendous poverty and challenges facing Mexico and it’s people. Martin also manages to show the shimmer of brilliance and beauty, the glory that was once Mexico and at times still is.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Lloyd Alexander

AmoxCalli is black today - Lloyd Alexander has died.

I received this early this morning.

Dear Community,
There is sad news. Lloyd Alexander died this morning. He was under Hospice care and was at home in his own bed where he wanted to be.
His wife, Janine, to whom he was married for sixty-two years, died two weeks ago - also at home. (He met and married the French Janine in Paris at the end of WWII.)
His last book, THE GOLDEN DREAM OF CARLO CHUCHIO is out in galley form. Holt publication date is August. It is vintage Alexander.
Lloyd said about CARLO, "I have finished my life work."

Rest in peace beloved storyteller.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Escape from "Special"

Escape from Special
Author: Miss Lasko-Gross
Publisher: Fantagraphics
ISBN-10: 156097804X
ISBN-13: 978-1560978046

Escape from "Special" is a witty, funny and gorgeously illustrated graphic novel about a young girl named Melissa from the time she’s about four or five till just before she enters high school. I loved Melissa because she was smart, opinionated, irreverent and sarcastic.

Her story is told in anecdotal snapshots of the memories of her life as she remembers it. There’s no glossing over or making it pretty, this is raw. Her hippie type parents Jaqui and Todd put her in one school after another and the story makes great fun of the new agey types of schools as well as those schools that do their level best at trying to compartmentalize children. Melissa’s intelligence and her disdain for the attempted pigeonholing shine through the book even when she is put in a so-called “special” school for children with learning disabilities.

Melissa wants to escape from it all. She challenges everything and as I read each wonderful little chapter, I agreed with her. I loved it when she challenged her parents as they try to cram religion into her. Melissa’s response is great. She says it’s too late now, that they should have tried that crap on her while she was still young enough to fall for it. That had me laughing out loud.

There’s great stuff in this story and a lot of struggling going on. There’s the struggle to rise above the crowd, not fall into the trap of conforming, being part of the herd while still trying to find a place to belong. There’s the struggle to be herself while fighting her own insecurities. Melissa’s struggles reflect the deeply confusing interior life of a teenaged girl trying to find herself and be herself while doing her level best not to stand out. She wants to fit in and not be noticed as much as she disdains those to do fit in.

The gorgeous illustrations have a quiet and intense depth to them and seem to reflect the inner Melissa as much as the wonderful chapter titles like Cheese Steak of the Damned. At times the illustration is moody and bored, at others scared of the dark black and white and others angry with washes of color to reflect her emotions. It's an intense palette and a fascinating technique. Text and art intertwine and emote with a particular poignancy.

Escape from "Special " is highly recommended with a word of caution for those averse to a little strong language. The language fits and is even funny but some may have a problem with it. I personally thought the use of the word “cuntiness” entirely appropriate and side splittingly funny.

Book Description from the publisher:
A moving debut graphic novel about the pain of childhood.Fantagraphics Books is proud to follow up our launch of rising star R. Kikuo Johnson (author of the acclaimed Night Fisher) by showcasing Miss Lasko-Gross in her graphic-novel debut. Escape from "Special" is the coming-of-age story of Melissa, who we first meet as a small child and depart from at the end of the book just before she enters high school. Willful, funny, and perceptive, Melissa unsentimentally questions religion, identity formation, and treacherous female "friendships" as she tours with her parent's band, battles with her therapist, and bounces from school to school. Subjected to the whims of her bemused parents and, as the years pass, rejected by her peers, the opinionated Melissa copes by watching horror movies, psychosomatically vomiting to get out of temple, and making comics.Escape from "Special" recalls a not-too-distant time when girls flaunted their knock-off Esprit and shared best-friends necklaces broken in half.
The semi-autobiographical story unfolds in a series of brief anecdotes, expressionistically dredged as if from memory, without self-regarding exposition and uncorrupted by a nostalgic haze. Drawn in black and white and washed in moody blues and full spectrum grays, Lasko-Gross's art, with its detailed backgrounds and expressive, clean-line characters, exquisitely conveys the story's blend of humor (sometimes of the gross-out variety) and keenly observed insights. Miss Lasko-Gross, who has the sensibility of a love child of Linda Barry and David B. midwifed by Judy Blume, has created a graphic novel that should appeal not only to the growing readers of graphic novels, but to teens grappling with similar unresolved questions.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Fred Patten Reviews The Ancient Book of Myth and War

The Ancient Book of Myth and War
Author: Scott Morse, Lou Romano, Don Shank, and Nate Wragg
Publisher: Red Window/AdHouse Books
ISBN 10: 0-9774715-1-9
ISBN 13: 978-0-9774715-1-5

The four artists whose paintings compose this glossy hardcover 80-page art book/folio are young but veteran comic book creators and animation studio artists. All have recently worked or still work at Pixar Animation Studios as sketch artists and designers.

In these 35 full-color experimental works (although a few are monochromatic), the four artists “each take a personal approach to their myths and heroes. Their stories include retellings of ancient myths as well as the creation of new legends” (from the Introduction by Harley Jessup).

All four work in modern art forms, from abstract to impressionistic. Scott Morse’s bold paintings illustrate specific classic myths (the Deluge, the Golem of Prague, Oedipus Rex, Finn MacCoul, scenes from Native American folklore) and more general scenes of “war” (a Wild West barroom brawl, a modern urban “The Battle of Algiers”). Lou Romano’s surrealistic works are more generic scenes of Greek history and mythology; “Spartan”, “Trojan Horse”, “War Monster”. “Zeus”, “Perseus & Medusa”. Nate Wragg has created a cartoon ancient soldier, “Pathetos the Warrior’, and painted him in battles around the world against “The Deep Sea Hydra”, “Yeti”, “Cyclops”, “Demonic Centaurides”, “The Ancient Fire Sasquatch” and more. Don Shank, the most varied artist, has created his own myths and battles (“Orange Goddess”, “Fight”, “Map of the First Galactic War”, “Archway Usher” “Stab”) in paintings that range from Dali-esque “realism” to pure abstractionism.

Each painting, on a right-hand page, is faced with the left-hand page’s artist’s notes, giving the title, description of what the scene represents, and medium. The latter range from “Gouache on watercolor paper” through “Cell vinyl on board” and “Collage” to “Digital”. More and more modern artists, especially those who work in the cartooning industries, are painting entirely in their computers, and it is impossible to tell these works from “hard copy” acrylic or gouache or watercolor works on artboard. The Ancient Book of Myth and War is impressive both as a collection of modernistic fine art, and as a showcase of animation studios’ artists’ personal artistic talents.

Friday, May 11, 2007

The Golden Rule

The Golden Rule
Author: Ilene Cooper
Illustrator: Gabi Swiatkowska
Publisher: Abrams Books for Young Readers
ISBN-10: 081090960X
ISBN-13: 978-0810909601

Recommended for Kindergarten-Grade 5.

This gentle little story is about a little boy who asks his grandfather what it is the Golden Rule. His grandfather’s explanation as well as the boy’s deeper questions make up the book. I loved that the grandfather’s explanation was so simple, yet detailed. He tells the boy that the Golden Rule is mentioned in many religions and cultures, from Christianity to Hinduism to the Shawnee tribe, have their own variations and proceeds to cite where that rule can be found.

The nameless boy questions is grandfather more, wondering what the world would be like if everyone, even whole countries practiced the Golden Rule and that got me thinking. What if? Wouldn’t it be wonderful? The grandfather’s answer “It starts with you” got me thinking even more. I think I’ll be a lot more careful after reading this book.

The beautiful paintings of the boy and his grandfather with their solemn faces that gaze at you are reminiscent of those old icons in churches. The boy looks positively angelic. The pages have a golden tinge and everything is simply stunning. The Golden Rule is a beautiful way to help parents teach a very important lesson and be reminded of it themselves. The fact that the book is deliberately non-denominational makes it all the more compelling.

Book Description from the publisher:

This book is a gentle reminder of a timeless rule for parent and child: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.Everyone knows a version of the Golden Rule. But what does it really mean? And how do you follow it? In this gorgeously illustrated book, a grandfather explains to his grandson that the Golden Rule means you “treat people the way you would like to be treated. It’s golden because it’s so valuable, and a way of living your life that’s so simple, it shines.” And though it may be a simple rule, it isn’t easy to follow. Fortunately, following the Golden Rule is something everyone can do, which means that every person—old or young, rich or poor—can be a part of making the world a better place.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

His Dark Materials Omnibus

His Dark Materials Omnibus
Author: Philip Pullman
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
ISBN-10: 0375847227
ISBN-13: 978-0375847226

When I first heard of The Golden Compass I wanted to read it, but held off doing so because I had a lot going on at the time. When I was ready to read it, there was so much buzz about it that I was inundated and put it down yet for a later time when I could pick it up without being influenced too much by that buzz. Then I forgot about it and I think the books are over at one of my son’s houses.

Just recently, I received a review copy of the His Dark Materials Omnibus and got all fired up to read it. I just wish I hadn’t done so right before bedtime. I was so fascinated that I stayed up all night, stayed home the next day and read till it felt my eyes were bleeding. It was that good. Now I’m kicking myself for waiting so long.

The first book in the series is The Golden Compass, where Lyra Belaqua and her dæmon, Pantalaimon are first introduced. They live in an alternate Oxford where science, theology, and magic are all very closely aligned and everyone seems to understand it all.

Lyra herself is an incredible character. She’s spunky, brave, smart and determined as well as being the despair of the college folk who raise her. She lives in Jordan College within Oxford and delights in running wild, organizing great battles with rival children and has such an inordinate curiosity and sense of adventure.

When her Uncle Asriel visits the college she goes a little too far and finds out more than she should. He's there to solicit funds for a return journey to the North, where he has observed strange goings-on, including a mysterious phenomenon called Dust. After he leaves, Lyra finds herself placed in the charge of the mysterious Mrs. Coulter and in possession of a strange and mysterious golden compass that can answer questions if she learns how to read it. Lyra discovers Mrs. Coulter's connection with the dreaded children-stealing Gobblers and runs away, joining a group of gyptians to find the missing kids, in particular, her beloved friend Roger.

This action-packed, highly literary adventure is filled with wonderful things – armored bears who speak, flying witches, secrets and lies, evil, a flying balloon piloted by a wild Texan and one hell of an intricate plot.

The Subtle Knife is the second book in the series and continues the adventure. This book starts in another universe and centers on a boy named Will Parry. His universe is modern day London and he’s got just as much going on as Lyra had in her universe. Will’s mother is incapable of taking care of herself, his father is missing and there are bad men trying to find out something. Desperate, Will finds someone to care for his mother and somehow manages to stumble into another world, a world that Lyra has stumbled into as well. The second book is just as intense and wondrous as the first with just as much, if not more excitement and drama. The plot twists and turns with the grace and power of an Olympic gymnast, never missing a beat. New characters as well as old abound and each is as detailed and finely drawn as the main characters. What an amazing talent Mr. Pullman has! Absolutely riveting and completely entrancing!

The Amber Spyglass, the final chapter is incredible. I kept thinking that the last book would somehow miss the mark but I have no idea why I would think that. The Amber Spyglass if anything surpasses the other two and concludes the series in a most phenomenal way.

The beautiful witch Serafina Pekkala is back as she seeks out the armored bear Iorek Byrnison to help her with Lord Asriel’s crusade. Worlds are explored, mysteries are solved, the war is raging, angels are wandering, the worlds are changing and Lyra, Will and their friends must somehow save it all.

Philip Pullman has written a masterpiece of literature that is literary and smart, funny and sad, heart-wrenching and amazingly wonderful. The fact that kids are reading this high-minded, intelligent and almost Dickensian literature warms my heart. I think that 500 years from now, these books will still be in print and every child and grownup will know of Lyra and her worlds.

Book Description from the publisher:

FOR THE FIRST time, all three books of Philip Pullman's award-winning His Dark Materials trilogy (The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass) will be published in their entirety in one volume. Perfect for both new and established Pullman fans who want to read (or reread) the whole trilogy before The Golden Compass movie debuts on December 7, 2007, this handsome 6 x 9 omnibus will feature every word of the trilogy as well as Philip Pullman's chapter opening art. Also, new and exclusive to this edition: Philip Pullman has written two pages of new vignettes for each book in the trilogy. Readers will be delighted to discover these intriguing new passages at the end of each book's section in the omnibus. About the AuthorPhilip Pullman won the prestigious Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award in honor of the body of his work. He lives in Oxford, England.

Tales from the Farm

Essex County Vol 1: Tales from the Farm
Author: Jeff Lemire
Publisher: Top Shelf Comics
ISBN-10: 1891830880
ISBN-13: 978-1891830884

Xeric Award-winning cartoonist Jeff Lemire (Lost Dogs) brings a lonely Ontario farm brilliantly to life in this wonderful graphic novel.

Lester, a young orphan is living on this vast and lonely place with his Uncle Ken, a bachelor who clearly has no idea what to do with the boy. Lester continually wears a cape and mask and wanders the farm imagining that he is watching for aliens. His uncle doesn’t understand him but desperately wants to build some kind of relationship with him. He invites him to watch hockey games on television, but Lester avoids it and sits in his room along watching the same game. It’s heartbreaking.

One day Lester runs into Jimmy Lebeuf, gas station attendant and damaged ex-hockey star. Jimmy doesn’t think Lester is strange for wearing his cape and mask and he completely believes in the possibility of an imminent alien invasion. The two bond and slowly Lester starts to come to life. Uncle Ken finds out and is clearly upset at the two’s connection. Flashbacks to Lester’s mother dying of cancer give the story added depth and insight into Lester’s and Jimmy’s connection.

Tales from the Farm
is illustrated in sparse, blocky yet amazingly detailed drawings that are imbued with so much emotion and a spare, raw beauty. Each page is a delight and so much is conveyed without words. The strain and miscommunication between Lester and Uncle Ken is written on their faces as clearly as if a whole chapter had been written in text. It’s beautiful and so well done.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

What Books Are You Reading?

I've been tagged by Liz B of the marvelous A Chair, A Fireplace and A Tea Cozy for the What Books Are You Reading meme.

Let's see, I've been super busy - too busy to write much but I have been reading. On the bus to work (eco-friendly me), at lunch, before bed and sometimes in the morning. I'm currently reading:

The Savage Detectives by Robert Bolano - So far, I've done four chapters and it's fabulous. I can't wait to finish it. The book was recently translated to the English and is about a cult of young poets who call themselves Visceral Realists, steal books, disdain Octavio Paz and Neruda and live in Mexico City. I'm dying to finish it but keep getting sidetracked by the other fascinating books on my nightstand.

Manga Shakespeare - Hamlet - Yeah, that's right Manga Shakespeare. There's one on Romeo too. From what I can see these are great. I just got them and barely flipped through but already am semi in love. The language is intact but edited for space and length, the artwork is wonderful and I love the whole idea of it. Get these into the schools as required reading!

Song of the Sparrow by Lisa Ann Sandell - Just finished this beautiful and tightly written account of the Lady of Shalott. It's one of the few Tennyson poems that I love and the story of Elaine is one sure to delight. That review will be up soon.

Lost City Radio by Daniel Alarcon - To be honest, I just cracked the spine of this one this morning. I'm drooling.

The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner - OMG! Glorious. Just finished this two nights ago and I'm still thinking about it. Look for that review soon.

A Darkling Plain by Philip Reeve - Just started this one and it's my first in the Hungry City Chronicles but the third in the series. I already love it and want to go back and read the others. An alternative futuristic London, war, a mystery and what seems to be a love story between two wonderful characters. I HAVE to finish this one!

Escape from Special by Miss Lasko-Gross - another one who's review will soon be up on AmoxCalli. This is a completely wonderful and irreverant graphic novel with astounding depth to it's art work. Some people may be offended by some of the language but I thought it gave perfect flavor to it when read in context and it made me laugh. Come on people ya got to laugh when you read the word "cuntiness". Hey at least it's not scrotum. (Wow Gina, you got two smut words in that one)!

Tales From The Farm - yet another wonderful graphic novel that will shortly be on AmoxCalli. It's great. Spare yet effective text coupled with profoundly real and interesting black and white drawings. Fabulous.

So that's what I'm reading, read or trying to read. I'm tagging Pop Goes the Library, La Bloga, Blog From the Windowsill, Sarah's Holds Shelf and Original Content.

Monday, May 07, 2007


In case you haven't noticed, I've been MIA on reviewing for a few days, okay about a week. I promise more reviews are forthcoming, I've been reading some great books. Many thanks to my wonderful guest bloggers for contributing to the Reviewing the Classics of Kidlit series.

Check out AWN.com. I left a year and a half ago because of my wonderfully bad move to San Diego and have been trying to get back ever since. Luckily, they like me about as much as I like them and they re-hired me. The past few weeks have been wonderful, but exhausting. I've been getting home so late that I don't even cook - just hit the bed, sometimes dressed and fall asleep.

AWN is an acronym for Animation World Network. What we are is a completely online publication that writes about animation and visual effects. We've been in business going on twelve years and have every bit of pretty darned fabulous content online and available to the animation loving public. We're a community resource, a wealth of information, we have a store, we have an incredible Animation Industry Database (aidb.com) which I'm currently updating and cleaning up. There are articles, images, showreels, an Oscar Showcase, an animators showcase and lots of goodies. We have our visual effects site VFXworld.com and those articles are just as wonderful as those on AWN. I could go on and on for hours but the bottom line is AWN is a great place to find online, it's a great place to work and I'm happy to be back. I should be back online with reviews in the next couple of days now that things are calming down a bit and I'm getting used to my crazyloca schedule.

So pull up a chair and come visit AWN. They have book reviews too! Animation ones. Check out the fabulous tribute they did to Joe Barbera.

See ya soon.


Sunday, May 06, 2007

The Mark Of The Horse Lord

The Mark of the Horse Lord
Author: Rosemary Sutcliff
Publisher: Front Street; 1 Reprint edition (February 2, 2006).
ISBN-10: 1932425624
ISBN-13: 978-1932425628

The Plot: Phaedrus is a gladiator in second century Britain; a bloody, violent fight to the death in the arena results in Phaedrus killing his best friend, winning his freedom, and having no idea what to do next. What does a slave know about living as a free man?

Phaedrus is approached with a scheme involving the tribes to the North, in Scotland; the king died seven years ago. His son, Midir, went missing; and Levin's half-sister, Liadhan, seized the opportunity to bring back goddess worship and set herself on the throne.

The thing is, Phaedrus looks exactly like the missing Midir. Why not put him on the throne instead, and remove Liadhan from power? So Phaedrus pretends to be Midir -- pretends to be King -- and gets more than he bargained for as he begins to realize what it means to be a King.

The Good: Non stop action. Chapter One, we get a mother's suicide, gladiator fights, freedom; Chapter Two, a drunk night on the town resulting in fights, stabbings, and fire; Chapter Three is prison and the Midir plan. There's barely a place for Phaedrus or the reader to breathe. Yet, within all that action, Sutcliff includes many details about the second century Britain.

Once Phaedrus agrees to the plan, there's a lot he has to learn. And he keeps finding out that that there is even more involved than he thought.

Since this was written in 1965, I was a bit concerned about how the goddess religion would be treated. To be simplistic, it seems like all books about it written before a certain time depict it as Evil; and all written after a certain time depict it as The Golden Age. Silly me; Sutcliff does almost the impossible by making no modern judgments. Yes, the faction that Phaedrus sides with wants the sun centered god religion, rather than the moon centered goddess; and the goddess religion shown involves human sacrifice. But it's done rather evenhandedly; and the religion dispute is more a side issue, with the real dispute being about power, and who has it.

What else? There's a map! I love maps; and a brief historical note intro, letting the reader know a bit of the historical context and clearly stating that this is fiction, but here's the true history part.

As for the true history part, I love that Sutcliff looks at a bit of history that does not get much written about it. Seriously, how many other books sent in second century Scotland are there are about the Dalriad?

The brutality of the time is genuinely shown; what really happened to Midir, for example. My clues; he's alive; and remember, that a maimed man could not be king. If you don't want to murder a child but do want to make sure he never becomes king, what do you do?

Age: I think today, this would be a YA book or an adult book. Phaedrus is about nineteen; there are wars, bloody battles, even a bit of a romance. Part of what Phaedrus has to face is the difference between the best choice for himself; and the best choice for his people. But are they his people -- isn't he just pretending to be King?

The cover: isn't that cover great? I read the original hardcover, boring black, but there is a mark on the cover that is supposed to be the mark of the horse lord that Phaedrus gets tattooed on his forehead.

Quotes: "[Essylt, Phaedrus's mother] had used the slim native hunting dagger that had served Ulixes as a papyrus knife; but there was not much blood because she had stabbed herself under the breast, not cut her wrists as a Roman woman would have done." In one sentence, Sutcliff tells us how Phaedrus's mother killed herself, also revealing how the native / Roman cultures mixed yet did not mix.

On fighting to the death as a gladiator: "Like the sudden opening of a cavern in his head, reality burnt upon Phaedrus, and in that ice-bright splinter of time he understood at last that this was a fight to the death, that he was fighting, not his comrade Vortimax, whom he had fought scores and hundreds of times before, but death -- red rending death such as the stag's had been, and the hooks of the mercuries in the dark alleyway." Again, awesome detail; and lovely how Sutcliff creates a world where you "know" what it is those mercuries do without her ever really saying.

While I liked how Sutcliff had the opening note, I would have loved to have the titles of her actual source material. I wonder if the marriage ceremony shown is accurate, and the same for the Women's War Dance.

Finally? Amazing, amazing ending. Entirely true to the book and the characters, yet still unbelievable and almost shattering.

Now all I want to do is read all of Sutcliff's other books.

Wikipedia article on the Dál Riata
Interview with Rosemary Sutcliff
Rosemary Sutcliff: An Appreciation blog, with The Mark of the Horse Lord review
Teacher Resource File for Sutcliff
Rosemary Sutcliff: blog by godson (here, also)
I Speak of Dreams blog review
1985 Phoenix Award Winner