Return of the White Deer by Robert Sells
Genre: Action/Adventure, historical, Middle Grade, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full (296 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 10+
Rated: 5 stars
Review by: Rose
It’s not easy growing up in seventh century Mercia, an ancient kingdom in England. Bit more difficult when you are the Chosen One and on track to become the next king. Especially if you have no army, no training, and no noble background.
At least that’s what Pen thought after being kidnapped by the King and locked away in a dungeon. And, who could help him now? His father, a mere farmer? The few people in a backwater village, not even on some maps?
Ahh… but a village of secrets. Secrets about a matronly woman with a dark past and her feisty daughter who somehow had become an expert archer. Secrets even about his father who, without a weapon, took down an armed soldier. Secrets about his mother, long dead. Secrets about an old black horse which could outrun all others. But, most of all, secrets about a strange white deer lurking in a forbidden forest.
After being rescued, Pen finds himself in the middle of a rebellion and on a roller-coaster ride ending with his coronation or, far more likely, his death. Success hinges on this fifteen year old boy growing into a man in a few short months. Yup, growing up in Mercia wasn’t easy.
This book is an exciting look at a particular point in history– the 900s AD– when a young man, Penda, becomes king and is the Chosen One, picked by a legendary white deer when he was just a lad.
Penda dreams of being more than he is–the son of a farmer–and to this end sneaks off to learn how to wield a sword from a neighbor. His is not the only secret however; they abound in this small village.
Mr. Sells kept me on my toes as he slowly unveils the truth, which makes for an excellent book–one which both boys and girls will enjoy. There is fighting and making of war and excitement on one hand and the hint of a romance on the other hand.
The characters are all well-written, but Pen is the star of the show. He’s likable for the most part (though there is one scene where he lets everything get to him and he turns into someone not very likable–fortunately he has a friend to let him know he’s being a brat), and it’s wonderful to see him come of age and grow from an awkward boy into the King of England.
Good job, Mr. Sells, and I’m looking forward to more of your work. I would love to see a future book with these characters!
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