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The Iron Ring Paperback – 29 Jul 1999
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Title: The Iron Ring <>Binding: Paperback <>Author: LloydAlexander <>Publisher: PuffinBooks
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As with Welsh and Chinese mythology, Alexander makes this his own. The adventure begins with a dream sequence (that wasn't a dream sequence--or was it?) in which the young King of Sundari, Tamar, gambles his life away to an insane king from the far north. When he awakes, no one remembers the previous night's events except him. But on his finger, there is still the fateful iron ring that binds his life to the mysterious maharajah. Driven by his sense of dharma, or honor, he sets out on a journey. Along with Hashket, King of the Monkeys, the beautiful gopi Mirri, Tamar's wise instructor Rajaswami, and a colorful assortment of other sensible friends, Tamar sets out to find if his life is still his own. Along the way, the young king finds out more about himself and the cruelty of violence, caste, and loss than he ever bargained for.
Although all of Lloyd Alexander's works are good, many complain that this is not up to par with his previous novels "The Remarkable Journey of Prince Jen" and "The Arkadians." I highly disagree, and by the time you read the last sentence of page 282, I think you will be much inclined to disagree also.
Young King Tamar forfeits his life in a high-stakes dice game to King Jaya, a mysterious visitor who places an iron ring on
Tamar's finger to signify his servitude. He commands, "You will go to my palace in Mahapura and there make good on your debt,"
and disappears. Unsure whether Jaya is a
dream or not, Tamar nevertheless begins the
journey because his "dharma" or honor commands it. (The theological implications of this are profound as we are all journeying toward
our deaths at the hands of a king who may or may not be there.)
Filled with Alexander's inimitable humor and
layers of meaning which adults can grasp and
children sense, this epic adventure explores
universal issues of prejudice, warfare, love,
and friendship without being didactic. Masterful.
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