A Prince Without A Kingdom Book Reivew

Book Title: A Prince Without A Kingdom
Author: Timothee de Fombelle
Translated by: Sarah Ardizzone
Publish Date: 1st US Edition 2015
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Series: Sequel to Vango: Between Earth and Sky

A Prince Without a Kingdom Book Review | Elements of Elementary
A Prince Without a Kingdom by Timothee de Fombelle

Suggested Grade: 8th grade and up

Suggested Format: Individual Reading, Book Club


Vango is being chased. He is not completely sure who is chasing him, or why. All he knows is that he must escape, must continue to run, and must find out who he really is. Orphaned at a young age, Vango has lived most of his life hiding: from pirates, from the government, from the police, even from the girl he loves. In this book, Vango decides it is time to stop hiding, and start finding answers. 

Ethel has not seen the man she loves in years, but she still holds on to the scarf she still has that belongs to him. Her parents dead, her brother in Spain fighting a war, the scarf is her only comfort. She spends her evenings sitting by the fire, staring at the stitched "V" on the blue cloth. During the days, however, she is busy with a very important, very secret project.

Padre Zafiro is on a mission to find and eliminate the most notorious arms dealer in the world. His two problems? The man knows he is coming and is watching for him, and he is trying to keep everyone else he knows safe. Can a priest really do whatever it takes, including murder, just to bring a criminal to justice?

Boulard is the Superintendent of the Paris police force, but he is being blackmailed by a Russian crime lord. He knows that there is more at stake than his own life, so he blindly follows orders, at least for now. At the back of his mind, he is trying desperately to create a plan to get rid of this problem once and for all. His time is running out, however, and not everyone is who they seem to be.

Linked together, characters step in and out of each other's lives, living through the chaos they are trying to control. Travel with them around the globe, from Paris to Scotland, New York to Russia, monasteries to prisons. Live vicariously through the eyes of people who have seen the wars in Spain, pirates of the Mediterranean, the first acts of discrimination against Jews in Paris, and the beginning of the second World War. 

Teacher's Notes: 

A Prince Without a Kingdom is an excellent tale of mystery, intrigue, and tragedy mixed with an ounce of comedy, written in a historically accurate setting. The sequel to Vango: Between Earth and Sky, this book actually serves quite well as a stand alone tale. Readers may at first be a bit confused about a few of the readers, but given the writing style in which the author introduces new characters and later delves more deeply into their connections and past, there is no guarantee that the first book would not also be so complex. 

Each character is artfully woven together into the full tapestry that is finally completed and shown at arm's length in the last few sentences of the book. There are many characters within this tale, and several are introduced even towards the very end of the book. This makes the book more difficult for students to understand, as seemingly important pieces are missing. 

From a classroom standpoint, this book is perfect for students to read independently. I would not suggest a whole group application of this text, as it can be confusing, and not all students will be willing to put in the effort to truly understand the story line progression as it crosses through multiple characters and continents.

There are plots of assassination, glimpses into occupied Paris during World War II, and scenes of death and destruction within the book. They are written with respect for the deceased and a hand that artfully describes accuracy without being too violent or gory for students in upper grades. The historical and social aspects of the movie are an excellent study of how historical events vary from the basic history lesson when viewed through the eyes of a character living deep within the event.

There are several love stories interwoven into the tale, but none are indecent for the public or private school setting. The most intimate of actions are a brief kiss or the holding of hands, with a few mentions of weddings, pregnancy, and children. The tale is so well constructed that even students who shy away from stories of love or "chick flicks" will not mind the account. 

If not for the complex construction of the text which makes the story inaccessible to all readers within a classroom, I would gladly recommend this book as a whole group activity for high school students. There are many wonderful topics to delve into, both thematic and relating to the writer's craft. This would be wonderful as a book study for more advanced students.

Overall: 9/10

How I Got the Book: ARC from publisher through LibraryThing

Suggested Interests: Historical fiction, fiction, mystery


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