Bennet longed for adventure, but
being only thirteen years old and the son of the King, his freedom was
greatly restricted. Still, he practiced his combat skills in
preparation for the day when he would one day not be left behind with
his bodyguards at the castle when danger arose but instead ride forth
as a warrior. His fervent desire for something more exciting than
chatting with the children of the court was what led him to eventually
convince his parents to allow him to accompany his uncle’s military
expedition to the Southern Mountains to battle bandits. After all, what
could happen to the young prince in the presence of so many soldiers?
Little did anyone suspect that what was supposed to be a simple
observation on Bennet’s part would turn into something far more
Kucera weaves a swiftly moving story of bravery, cleverness, and daring deeds in a kid-friendly fantasy setting. Bennet’s character is well-developed as is that of Melissa, the peasant girl he falls for. Like many thirteen-year-olds Bennet chafes at the rules but also understands, at least intellectually, that they are in his best interest and, as the child of a monarch, in the best interest of his kingdom. This doesn’t stop him, however, from being impetuous and occasionally foolish in his choices. Melissa is also highly believable, and her well-intentioned manipulation of Bennet and take charge attitude in some situations is typical of the interactions frequently seen between middle school “couples.”
The author’s wide experience as a father, grandfather, and Scout leader has given him valuable insight into the minds and motivations of young people. This understanding enriches his story, and combined with danger and budding romance, make for a novel that should appeal to many middle grade readers.