on Nov. 15, 2012 :
In a world where being the younger twin of a noble means being put to death, Paul shouldn't be alive. But his twin Rupert is mentally handicapped and his royal parents need a miracle. Thrust suddenly into court life from his life on the streets, Paul must successfully pose as the miraculously healed Crown Prince or face his belated execution. Complications soon arise when his father, King Albert is captured by a vengeful sorcerer.
Urchin King is a fantasy story loosely based on The Prince and the Pauper, with many twists and turns of a magical nature. I found the story line interesting and intriguing and it was unique and complex enough not to sound like a simple rehashing of an old tale. Gerlach obviously has a fine sense of story and plot, and the novel was exciting, filled with many adventures that drive the story on.
That said, I'm torn between giving this book a three or a four star rating due to the inadequacies of the writing itself. I felt that many of the chapters were short and could have been further expanded upon. As it was, there was a feeling, not quite of urgency, but more of being rushed through the story to the end instead of being allowed to linger in the words and on the page.
Well, with a 3.5 star rating, we were always taught to round up. :)
(reviewed 29 days after purchase)
on Nov. 4, 2011 :
In the mythical medieval kingdom of Xawia, two newborn princes were separated at birth. But the law of the land, death to the second born of twins, was subverted and the younger twin hidden away, like the baby Moses. Years later he is found and now he must save his new-found, but damaged, brother by secretly replacing him as crown prince. You can't help but remember The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain when you read this book, but this story offers its own charming uniqueness in plot and characters, and I found myself wholly absorbed. The Urchin King is a wonderfully crafted book in which the prose and all elements of structure very quickly become invisible and the story seems to tell itself.
(reviewed 20 days after purchase)
on Nov. 3, 2011 :
Do you enjoy young adult fantasy? Do you like a well-written adventure story with magic? Then you need to try this book.
Paul is a beggar who lives with other street kids in a land where when twins are born, the second twin is killed at birth. To his amazement, Paul finds out that he is actually a second twin, spared from death by being raised away from his heritage. When Paul replaces his highborn disabled twin, his adventures begin in earnest. Will he be able to save the kingdom?
(reviewed the day of purchase)
William L. Hahn
on Oct. 10, 2011 :
I was delighted as I was surprised to see this foray into historical fantasy by Ms. Gerlach, previously known to me for her middle-grade work in more modern settings. I find Urchin King to be a rollicking, fast-paced adventure that moves easily and quickly between castle and forest, city and wilderness following the delightfully harrowing adventures of its hero Paul.
This lad is thrust into an unfair situation and under a heavy burden as he is taken away from ruffians to live among royalty. Readers of classic works may think they can see where things are going, but any similarity to "that story" ends fast, and Paul finds that he must access the talents of both his lives to survive and succeed, only to face the seemingly insoluble dilemma of his oracle and an awful law that hangs over the kingdom.
As Ms. Gerlach deftly moves the story ahead towards its climax, we find that Paul, who began the tale too young yet to be a man, discovers it's fast becoming too late to remain a child. If you enjoy the maturation of worthy young characters, a detailed world in which the kingdoms and their religion, culture and society easily fit, and stories where fate exists but not doom- I recommend Urchin King to your attention as the most recent of Katharina Gerlach's successes.
(reviewed 6 days after purchase)