Princelings of the East – book review and character interview

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ThePrincelingsoftheEast__Final - CoverToday I’m taking part in a blog tour organized by Renee at Mother Daughter Book Reviews. The book is Princelings of the East by Jemima Pett, and as part of the blog tour my children had a chance to do interview one of the characters from the book. There’s also a rafflecopter giveaway that people and enter, and I’m writing up a little review (with my ideas for discussion topics for homeschoolers or others who like to share lots of crazy ideas with their kids) .

 Backcover Summary

The Princelings of the East is the first of a trilogy telling of the adventures of Fred and George.

When the King’s Birthday feast is ruined by an unnatural power drain, our Princeling heroes leave their scientific experiments to set out in search of answers. They encounter the enigmatic businessman Hugo, the impressive Prince of Buckmore, the wise Lady Nimrod, the irrepressible barkeeper Victor, but find themselves threatened by those with vested interests. The scene shifts from a rural, feudal setting to the towers and heights of the curious Isle of Hattan, but where, or when, are they? Time is of the essence in solving this puzzle, and our heroes must keep their wits sharp and their heads clear if they are to survive.


Character Interview

George here! Thank you very much for reading the book. Fred and I were always delighted that Jemima had written it.

When you talk about energy, what are you talking about? Is it electricity? Total potential energy? What is it?

That’s a very clever question. What our books tell us is that this unseen force that we can use to make things work is an energetic activity of the fundamental particles that is passed along to other items. It can take different forms. So sometimes the current energy, which I think may be what you term electricity, that we use for making the music louder and various things like lights work underground, can be affected by other forms of energy like heat or light. I mean you can turn current energy into heat and light, but you can make heat in other ways and redirect light from the sun (or the wormy things can make their lights from food). We do live in a world that is not quite the same as yours, so some things may work differently. I’m afraid I don’t know exactly what, though.

Did you ever figure out the mechanism by which the you-know-what caused the energy drain. Care to explain a bit about how it worked?

Fred had a Think about it, and I had some ideas too. We discussed it a lot, and drew some diagrams. Our general assumption was that all that extra energy that was taken out of the Wozna Cola when they made it into Diet Wozna had to go somewhere. There was no sign of it at Castle Hattan other than the you-know-what. Some people have used the term worm-hole to describe similar features in space. We thought that the you-know-what itself was caused by the spare Diet Wozna energy – an energy sink if you like. But when they used the you-know-what to get to the realms (our world) and transport the Wozna through for deliveries, it needed extra energy (maybe you’d call it power) that it drew from the realms. It probably should be called a power drain in your terminology. We noticed it as an effect, a coincidence, but we were never able to test our theory out. We could never prove it was the cause.

Did anyone at Castle Marsh ever notice you were missing? Did you ever return there?

Uncle Vlad thought we’d been awfully quiet. But then we tended to keep out of people’s way. We did send a message to him afterwards so they knew we’d gone visiting Buckmore. We didn’t want to lose our right to be Marsh people. You’ll need to read the next book to find out more.

Were you angry when you noticed that Fred had left you? How could you just fall asleep in a tunnel?

Oh… (you can imagine me sighing if you like). Fred … he can be in a world of his own sometimes, you know. You get used to it. I could never be angry with him. I don’t think I could be angry with anyone. Unless maybe they tried to hurt him in some way. As for falling asleep in the tunnel – we’d walked a very long way. I bet you’d have nodded off too. I don’t know why Fred didn’t, frankly. What I can’t understand is why I thought he’d gone up the… oops, nearly gave the game away there… the tunnel with lights in it. But if I’d gone up the main tunnel it would have been a completely different adventure. Funny how little choices have big consequences, isn’t it?

Thank you very much for interviewing me. It was very interesting. I hope your readers enjoy it.



My Review

There are some interesting questions in Princelings of the East about time travel and how time travel could work, but what I found most interesting is the books insistence that once the cause of the mysterious energy drain was discovered they find a solution that will peacefully convince the person in control of the process to stop by finding him alternative sources of revenue. From the setting of the book – with castles and kings – I would have expected some sort of declaration of war. He was in effect stealing from the rest of them but they determined to find a solution that would not interfear in his profits. They didn’t even try to pass laws against it! I have to wonder, did they have the equivalent to NAFTA Chapter 11, which allows corporations to sue if governments pass laws that interfear in their profits?

The book could be used to introduce children the idea of negative externalities. What do you do when the production of one product has some sort of environmental or social cost associated for it, the cost of which is not included in the cost of the product but instead externalized on everyone, whether they purchase it or not? And should governments be allowed to regulate to reduce negative externalities, and if they do, should they be responsible for causing the company to lose profit?

That said, Princelings of the East is a bit of a strange book. It was a little too slow and confusing for my five year old (which is fine, since the book is listed for 10+). My eight year old was excited and interested in the book but frusturated by the style where chapters jump back and forth, one chapter following one twin and the next following the other twin in a different location. He would spend the bulk of a chapter waiting impatiently to switch back to the other character only to get interested in the last page or two, but he doesn’t deal well in suspense, so his difficulty with the switching characters is probably a sign of a good book. On the other hand I got discouraged by the unnecessary making of words like “think” or “grumps” into proper nouns. I was a little confused by the mention  of real world locatons. “…on a Japanese-influenced day bed. Souvenirs from all parts of the globe were artfully displayed: Javanese shadow puppets adorned one wall, corn dollies from George’s own land were pinnned over and empty fireplace….” because it seemed a confused return to our real world in a book that seems better suited to an entirely imaginary world. I thought it interesting also that the author choose to name the twin heroes Fred and George, even acknowledging in the beginning “These may be similar to other fictional characters but no plagiarism is intended.” Is the story weighed down, I wonder, by my preconceptions of Fred and George from their Harry Potter mirrors, or does the similar names prevent the author from having to work as hard on character development? The book is a good book, I think, but no where near a great one.


*** The Princelings of the East Blog Tour Giveaway ***

One winner will receive a $25 Amazon gift card or PayPal cash + a paperback copy of The Princelings of the East Trilogy by Jemima Pett
Contest runs: September 23 to October 20, 11:59 pm, 2013
Open: WW
How to enter: Enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.
Terms and Conditions: A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send us an email!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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