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The Letter for the King Paperback – 5 Jun 2014

4.5 out of 5 stars 92 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Pushkin Children's Books (5 Jun. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1782690263
  • ISBN-13: 978-1782690269
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 3.3 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (92 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 30,576 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


‘A true page-turner’ Sunday Times

‘A cracker’ Spectator

‘Beautifully constructed... gripping, delightful and true’ Guardian

‘This 1962 pulse-pounding epic follows Tiuri, a young knight-candidate who breaks hits sacred vigil to heed a desperate cry for help. Translated from the Dutch for the first time, this old-school quest story will keep all high-fantasy addicts riveted from the first page’ Metro

‘A seamless translation...Tonke Dragt's novel has the simplicity of plot and clarity of expression characteristic of great children's fiction… this spellbinding classic of high fantasy never once flags’ James Lovegrove, Financial Times

‘A medieval fantasy of the highest order, action-packed and atmospheric’ Robert Dunbar, Irish Times

‘A thrilling, page-turning tale of 16-year-old Tiuri's adventure...My 10- and 11-year-old were both gripped’ Telegraph Magazine

‘Gripping from its opening moment onwards, this award-winning book doesn't miss a beat from its thrilling beginning to its satisfying ending’ Julia Eccleshare

‘My ten-year-old daughter says [The Letter for the King] is the best book she's ever read’ Cerys Matthews, Mail on Sunday

‘A fast-moving, wonderful old-style adventure... cinematic in its visual detail... a European classic... far loftier than Harry Potter and beautifully presented in this most attractive edition’ Eileen Battersby, Irish Times

‘A classic quest narrative... a thoughtful and endearing hero, whose loyalty and nobility - qualities much ignored today - sustain him throughout. Dragt's illustrations are mystical and timeless’ Philip Womack, Literary Review

‘A fantasy about a 16-year-old medieval squire who finds danger, true friendship and first love on a mission to deliver a letter that can save a kingdom. The award-winning translator Laura Watkinson conveys its rich symbolism, vividness and economy of style’ Nicolette Jones, Sunday Times

The Letter for the King will get pulses racing... Pushkin Press deserves every praise for publishing this beautifully translated, well-presented and captivating book’ Amanda Craig, The Times

‘Gripping... inspiring’ Rachel Khoo

‘Now, finally published in English, we too can read this brilliantly epic tale’ Sunday Express

‘Fluidly translated by Laura Watkinson [The Letter for the King] is an old fashioned quest story... a wonderfully simple, wonderfully gripping story’ Melanie McDonagh, Spectator

‘A fast-paced quest... Great for high-fantasy fans’ Metro

‘Epic story’ Guardian Children's Books

‘The publishing in English of Tonke Dragt 's The Letter for the King brings back ancient, yet deeply pleasant memories. She's always at the top of the list when writers of my generation are asked which books they loved in their childhood, and justly so’ Erwin Mortier

‘A charming story told simply and captivatingly... the first English translation of a classic of European children's literature which ... deserves to be richly treasured’ Booktrust

‘An absolute pleasure... immensely enjoyable... vivid and intelligent’ Newbooks

‘The plot is central, and extremely gripping, but the writing also delivers lovely detail and evocative description’ Guardian Children's Books

‘Explores themes of bravery, loyalty, and commitment, along with a coming of age story which will inspire budding young readers today, just as it did when first released. The Letter for the King not only caters for a young adult audience but would also be an ideal bedtime story for parents looking to share reading with their children’ We Love This Book

‘A compelling story which twists and turns and keeps the reader gripped throughout’ Parents in Touch

‘If you find Game Of Thrones too gory or simply want to be ahead of the curve then this is for you. It's an epic adventure that will sweep you up into a world of knights, villainy and peril’ Melissa Cox, Waterstones, Stylist

‘If you enjoy classic fairytale journeys through forests, over mountains and across kingdoms then this is the book for you’ We Love This Book

‘Has all the essential and traditional ingredients of a timeless and heroic tale with its motifs of friendship, first love, courage, loyalty, chivalry… the compelling, twisting and turning story has an ethereal and hypnotic elegance which delights as much as it excites’ Lancashire Evening Post

‘A glorious, elf-free epic’ Jewish Chronicle

‘Dutch Tolkienesque epic saga novel... A warm-hearted exhilarating fantasy novel for children, or young at heart grown-ups’ Bath Life

‘A classic of European children's literature... this is the gripping tale of a squire, a dangerous mission and a kingdom in peril’ The School Run

‘An absolute classic for children who love a gripping novel - buy it now’ Creative Steps

‘The best thing since Tolkien. The word on everyone's lips. Knights. Villainy. Deadly intrigue. And that cover. What more can we say?’ Scholastic, Teen Book Club

‘[Tiuri] keeps us leaning close to catch every surprise, every thrill of suspense, every uplifting discovery and crushing disappointment, that propels this book along at a captivating pace, all the way to its most satisfying finish’ Mugglenet

‘Easy and enjoyable to read’ Bookwitch Blog

‘A sweet and rather innocent book’ Sfcrowsnest Blog

‘It's a richly imagined, gentle and reassuring story’ Books for Keeps
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Tonke Dragt was born in 1930 in Indonesia. When she was twelve, she was imprisoned in a Japanese camp during war, where she wrote her very first book using begged and borrowed paper. After the war, she and her family moved to the Netherlands, where she became an art teacher. She published her first book in 1961, and a year later this was followed by her most famous story, The Letter for the King, which won the Children's Book of the Year Award and has been translated into sixteen languages. She was awarded the State Prize for Youth Literature in 1976 and was knighted in 2001.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This translation of a classic by Tonke Dragt has been so overdue! I've read the German version 30years ago and was keen to introduce it to my children. Depending on your child's maturity in reading I'd recommend it for ages 8plus at least.
Tiuri is a 'knight that is not a knight'- he is asked the night before his knighting ceremony to deliver a secret message to a faraway kingdom and so suddenly is thrown into a very much adult world with intrigue and scheming that has far reaching consequences, also for his own kingdom. He really gets to know the world outside his protected upbringing. An adventure story of growing up and facing one's own decisions, standing up for what is right and finding friendship/kinship on the way. Tiuri isn't a super-hero, he still is a 'boy' (hates that occasionally) and so the reader can identify with him.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a classic which has been neglected for too many years. It is a story which can be read and appreciated on many levels.

Simply it is the tale of how a novitiate knight, Tiuri, on his vigil before he is knighted is persuaded by a mysterious old servant to carry a vital message to the Black Knight with the White Shield. The Knight is murdered by the treacherous Red Riders. It falls to Tiuri to carry the message over the Great Mountains to the King. The story recounts the setbacks and triumphs he encounters on his quest.

The novel has accurately been described as a page turner, and richly deserves to become a classis again.

I am eagerly awaiting the sequel "The Secret of the Wild Wood."

Yes! it is a children's book; it is deceptively easy to read but it contains many themes such as courage, loyalty, companionship and initiative which can be appreciated by readers of all ages.
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Format: Hardcover
(Review for NewBooks magazine)

It is nighttime. Dark, silent. There's a loud, insistent knocking on the door. A stranger urgently pleads with you to get a message to the King. You agree. "Do you have his email address? A number to send a text to?" Bish, bash, bosh. Message sent. End of story. Not exactly a thrilling read.

This might be the scenario of The Letter for the King if it were written as a contemporary novel. Well, thank goodness this translation of the original, written in 1962, is a truly old-fashioned (in every good sense of the word) tale of a daring quest through hardship and adversity. No quick way out, no short cuts, no technology. For me, it was a Hobbit / Lord of the Rings-type quest saga without the magic (or the dwarfs), but probably more enjoyable.

When I picked it up, I was daunted by the fact that it's a children's book that tallies up at a rather weighty 450 pages. Would a 10 year old want to wade through a book that size? Would a parent want to read 450 pages to their child?

Well, I now cannot wait for my own toddler to be old enough for me to read this to him. From the first chapter to the last, it was an absolute pleasure, one I as an adult reader enjoyed immensely.

In the great tradition of the Arthurian quest legends, the story concerns a sixteen year old, Tiuri, who, on the eve of his knighting ceremony, is disturbed from his vigil of silence by a knock at the door. Against the rules, he cannot help but break his vow of silence and agree to help the desperate stranger who comes to him seeking help in getting an important letter to the king of a neighbouring land. Knowing he will not now be knighted, Tiuri leaves without money or supplies to find the Black Knight with the White Shield.
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Format: Paperback
I was really excited to read this book as my friend Zarina heard I had a copy and had said it was a Dutch classic and was extremely popular back in the Netherlands, so I just had to get on and read it.
This is a truly brilliant children's story that adults as well as children can read and enjoy. Written back in 1962, I can see why this is a timeless classic and not only that, but why it has been translated into so many languages.

The Letter for the King tells the story of Tiuri, a squire set to become a knight, something he has dreamed of for so long. But on the night before he is due to be knighted, he gets called away on a perilous mission that puts his life in danger and means that he cannot be knighted as he was set to be. What ensues is a medieval fantasy adventure that will sweep up adults and children alike.
I must also mention the map that you get at the beginning of this book. It is beautiful and as we journey with Tiuri on his adventure, you can't help but look back at the map to see how far he has travelled.

It has been a long time since I have read a book in a medieval setting and to have it with a fantasy, almost other worldly setting just made this such a joy to read. I will definitely be reading this to my niece as she gets older. It makes me kind of wish I could have enjoyed it as a child too as it just has this kind of magical feel to it and love the anticipation as to what would happen next.

So as I said, this is a timeless classic to be enjoyed by people of all ages and those with that childish love for all things medieval and particularly knights!
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