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on 16 June 2009
Assumptions I held before reading this book:
Mermaids: beautiful young maiden, with fish like tails and long flowing hair
Mirrors: you like in them, you see yourself (and the room behind you) reflected in it.
Stone lions: they are solid, don't speak, don't move.
Mummys (Egyptian): a human wrapped up in bandages. Certainly no threat.

All of those assumptions have since been squashed. Mermaids aren't as pretty as you think. Mirrors - not only can you enter them, with the right equipment, but things live in them. What things? I'm not telling. Stone lions protect the elite of Venice, and can fly. They're bred for that, although they weren't always that way. Mummys: are a formiddable enemy.

Young Merle is apprenticed, with her blind friend Junipa to the mirror maker Arcimboldo. She makes friends with the enemy: a weaver apprentice, who used to be a Master Thief.. She has a special mirror, that's not made of glass. She keeps this a secret from the strange Arcimboldo, and learns a little about it in this part of the trilogy. She makes friends with a mermaid and a stone lion, thanks to a connection with the Flowing Queen, a being who protected Venice up until recently. The Flowing Queen's life is at stake, and with it protection against Venice's enemies. Merle has to trust all the voice in her head, and perform acts she'd rather not do.

What are Arcimboldo's true motives? Why is one stone lion locked up in prison? How does Junipa get her sight back? Read it to find out. I'm eager to read the second installment that's lying on my TBR pile.
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on 14 February 2015
The Flowing Queen is a fantasy that grows in invention and strangeness with every page: it begins, exotically enough, in a gondola in Venice, only to confuse you moments later with mentions of mermaids and the Pharaoh's armies in the Mediterranean. Nothing is as it seems: the Pharaoh has been restored to life in the mid-nineteenth century, and enslaved the entire world with invincible armies of priests and living-dead mummies. Only Venice holds out, besieged but protected by the mysterious Flowing Queen in the waters of the lagoon. The mermaids are no whimsical creatures, but powerful and frightening with their mighty fish-tails and terrible shark-mouths, misunderstood, abused and exploited by the Venetians. Venice is half-abandoned and on the point of collapse; the people are hungry, and in their desperation their rulers will consider even an alliance with Hell (oh yes, Hell is a real place, and diplomatic relations may well be possible).

Orphans Merle and Junipa are taken on by the master mirror-maker Arcimboldo, expelled from the guild of mirror-makers for demonstrating a craft a little too close to alchemy. Indeed, one of Arcimboldo's first acts is to restore blind Junipa's sight by means of mirrors in her eyes. Arcimboldo's household is full of secrets, and Merle has one of her own: a mirror made of water that never spills, and into which one can dip a hand, and sometimes feel a hand grasping one's own... Merle is a compelling heroine, orphan-tough yet vulnerable, quick to anger yet also quickly accepting of those who are different and marginalised. The story twists and turns and surprises right until the end, where it proves to be just the first part of a trilogy. It certainly deserves to be more widely read and far better known, with a particular mention for the impeccable, undetectable translation from Anthea Bell.
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on 2 December 2006
Merle and her blind friend Junipa are apprenticed to a magic-mirror maker in Venice, but the city is under threat from an Egyptian army... Recommended for children aged 10-16.

I especially liked the stone lions, and a twist on 'the little mermaid' story. This was an imaginative, interesting read, though sometimes I lost concentration, and the stroy dragged in places.
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on 18 November 2007
I really enjoyed this book. It has an amazing setting (Venice) and an unusual storyline which will appeal to those who are studying Ancient Egypt. Its well-written and fast-moving narrative keeps the reader gripped - I couldn't put it down and rushed straight on to the next book in the trilogy.
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on 5 February 2007
I run a book club for 9-11 yr olds, and we recently read this book. It is a fantastic read, with all the excitement and danger you could wish for, but with the added elgance of being set in Venice with its crumbling buildings and decadent architecture. I was gripped by the story and found that i couldn't put it down once I started reading it! I would thoroughly recommend it, it makes a change from some of the rather staid and boring children's writing which i all too often come across.
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on 13 January 2008
Winged stone lions fly through the skies of an imagined Venice, which is besieged by the armies of a revived Egyptian Pharaoh. Orphans Merle and her blind friend Junipa are apprenticed to Arcimboldo, the maker of mysterious mirrors, and find his housekeeper; Unke wears a mask to hide her mermaid's wide mouth of sharp shark's teeth. Merle carries a mirror made of water, and Unke feels the vibration of her connection with the mystical Flowing Queen who protects the Venice lagoon. In the mirror Junipa sees something she cannot tell. Meeting the attractive pickpocket Serafin, Merle overhears corrupt Venetian councillors making a deal with the Egyptians, over a flask containing the essence of the Flowing Queen. Serafin is caught, but Merle flees with the flask and is convinced by the Queen to drink its contents, and from then on carries the Flowing Queen inside her. Envoys from Hell - in this world, a real, geographical place - arrive in Campo San Marco, demanding Venice forms an alliance with Hell, or be destroyed. Vermithrax, one of the last talking stone lions, whisks Merle up from the burning piazza, and away over the mountains to find help... Rating: * * * * / * * * * * .
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on 24 September 2008
This book in my opinion is awful. Althought It has great ideas some sentences did not make sense.Also some words were made up.I think you should never get this book because it's rubbish!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Georgie aged 10
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on 24 September 2008
The Flowing Queen in my opinion is an awful book.
Although it has some great ideas (e.g. stone lions that patrol the city of Venice, and mermaids living in canals),they just fall flat on their faces because of the blatantly awful writing style. Some sentences just don't make sense!
My daughter read this before me, and after a few pages announced it was awful. I wondered if it was that bad and read it myself. It was horrible.
The other books in the series may be better, but judging on this terrible attempt at literiture alone, I wouldn't ever read them.
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