The wonderful adventure story of two boys, one the son of a mysterious impoverished grandee and the other the handicapped son of a n'eer-do-well drunkard. The boys together travel thru Europe on a Secret Mission and help wrest a fictitious country called "Samavia" from its wicked rulers and place the legendary and rightful heir on the throne denied the dynasty for over 500 years.
“In every nook and cranny, high and low, they sought for him…he had vanished as a star vanishes when it drops from its place in the sky.” From the author of such children’s classics as The Secret Garden and A Little Princess comes this enchanting story of a young boy discovering his true destiny.
Twelve-year-old Marco knows he is being trained for something, but he isn’t sure what. All his life he has traveled with his father in secrecy, learning many languages and the ways of a gentleman, but forbidden to speak about their country of origin, Samavia. Samavia has been fraught with war for the last five hundred years, ever since the prince mysteriously disappeared. But now, there is hope that peace may come at last, as it has been rumored that a descendant of the lost prince may have been found. And Marco is about to take on a secret quest that will change everything for his family and his country.
Frances Hodgson Burnett (1849–1924) was an English-born author of romances and books for children. After moving to America in 1865 she established a popular reputation with the publication of That Lass o’ Lowries in 1877. She is best known for such stories as Little Lord Fauntleroy, The Little Princess, and The Secret Garden.
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Great start with under-developed ending.
This book gets you hooked in the first half as you imagine all sorts of delicious directions of possible development. Sadly, the the second half leaves you wishing the first half wasn't so good... so you don't feel like you need to finish it. The ending is so obvious that you really don't need to read it, because your imagination will probably be better anyways. Also, the strong Christian symbolism is muddled by the addition of strong Buddhist mysticism in the second half. It would have been better to stick to one or the other, especially since pure Buddhism is not accurately represented by the theology/mysticism portrayed in this book and trying to couple it with Christianity seems to represent a misunderstanding of the end goal of both religions.
The first half of this book promises an epic adventure with wit and wisdom. Unfortunately you don't realize that you reached the climax until it's over as the ending is something you knew would happen after the first chapter.
David Thorn's performance is excellent, but not miraculous. Sometimes the voices of the Rat and Marco are easily confused as Marco's whisper sounds just like the Rat's talking (The Rat is a boy, not a furry rodent - no talking animals).
I hope this book is never made into a movie because the potential for the over-eager movie industry to make it worse is too great. They would remove the innocence, which is the main redeeming quality, and replace it with bickering and whiny drama. The positive addition of some good action scenes would not be enough to compensate.
Don't get this book for your kids as it will only confuse them. I encourage a listen out of curiosity, but anyone who wishes to save a precious credit for something awesome should turn somewhere else. If you like this author, try The Little Princess or The Secret Garden.
- Kevin Bass