The Lion Hunters: the Arthurian/Aksumite Cycle

cover art montage for the Arthurian Aksumite cycle

The Winter Prince

The Winter Prince by Elizabeth Wein

“Fantasy lovers and devotees of Arthurian legends will enjoy Wein’s challenging but engrossing novel, which probes the soul of Mordred (or Medraut as Wein names him), the illegitimate son of Artos [Arthur] and Artos’ half-sister Morgause. In Wein’s sympathetic hands, Medraut is a skillful, well-traveled healer who loves his half-brother Lleu, the legitimate heir to Artos’ kingdom. She also portrays Medraut as conflicted enough to succumb to the wiles of Morgause (knowing full well of her cruelty) and as capable of sacrificing Lleu for revenge. Medraut is jealous of Lleu’s blameless birthright and the power Lleu wields so thoughtlessly, and he yearns not only for Artos’ approval, but also for recognition that he is not responsible for the shame of his parentage. In a gripping climax, both Lleu and Medraut face the demons that haunt them and emerge knowing they will never fear each other again.”

—Chris Sherman, Booklist

(Click here to purchase The Winter Prince as an e-book from Open Road Media)

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A Coalition of Lions

A Coalition of Lions by Elizabeth Wein cover art

“A gorgeously imagined and wildly exciting historical narrative, combining Arthurian legend with the kingdom of Aksum (Ethiopia). While Wein mines the inexhaustible treasury of Arthur, as she did in her first installment, The Winter Prince, she makes it very new. Goewin, twin sister of Lleu, half-sister to Medraut, and daughter of Artos, high king of Britain, tells the story…. With Morgause, her father’s sister, calling for her…death, Goewin flees Britain for the court of Aksum in the company of the Aksumite ambassador to Britain, Priamos. Her betrothed, Constantine, is Britain’s ambassador to Aksum, as... Medraut was before him. Goewin can call Constantine home to Britain to assume the throne; she finds him harsh and unkind, though a good leader. In Aksum, she also finds Telemakos, the child who combines Medraut’s white-gold hair with the copper skin of his mother, and the preternatural calm intelligence of both parents. Constantine treats Priamos with fear, and Goewin uses what power she can wield to protect both him and the child, but not to her desired ends. Readers will eagerly await the next in Wein’s cycle.”

 —Kirkus

(Click here to purchase A Coalition of Lions as an e-book from Open Road Media)

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The Sunbird

cover art for The Sunbird by Elizabeth Wein

“In The Winter Prince and A Coalition of Lions, Wein delights in taking strong characters, giving them solid ideals, setting them in the crucible of a challenging situation, and applying narrative torque until they are transformed, by pressure and heat, into purer metals. In The Sunbird, the character so transformed is Telemakos, the half-Ethiopian son of The Winter Prince’s anti-hero Medraut. Telemakos’s home, the Aksumite Empire, is under quarantine to block the plague, but salt smugglers are placing profit above the good of all. Still a child, Telemakos accepts his responsibility to use his stealth and tracking skills in the service of his emperor and is thrust into a dangerous game: to find the smugglers’ ringleader, he crosses the desert to spy on the salt mines but is captured and forced to endure horrific conditions as a mining slave. Blindfolded, shackled, desperately thirsty, sand and salt-burned, Telemakos feigns muteness, even under torture, to preserve his identity and his life, but still he fails to identify the traitor. It is left to his wits after his rescue to piece together the clues for a satisfying conclusion. Gripping and hard-hitting in Wein’s signature fashion, Sunbird has all of the richness and moral complexity of its predecessors, but with a more straightforward plot. Telemakos’s trials, though extreme, are never overdone, a testament to Wein’s skill: her knowledge of the human heart and her facility at exposing its inner workings through suffering is rare and noteworthy.”

—Anita L. Burkam, The Horn Book Magazine

 

(Click here to purchase The Sunbird as an e-book from Open Road Media)

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The Lion Hunter (the Mark of Solomon part 1)

The Lion Hunter by Elizabeth Wein cover art

“It is with unbridled pleasure that readers will return to Wein's Aksumite empire of the sixth century. Our hero Telemakos is visiting the emperor’s mostly tame lions while awaiting the birth of his sister; when news of her arrival comes, he unwisely runs across the pit, causing the male lion to attack.  His wounds fester in the hearts of his parents as well, estranging them from his infant sister. Telemakos, though a picture of waking resilience, is plagued by nightmares, not of the wounds given him by his beloved lion but by memories of the torture inflicted when he was spying for the emperor and his aunt Goewin, the British ambassador, in the salt mines. When it becomes clear that not all of the traitors in the emperor’s quarantine have been caught and that they are still looking to avenge themselves on the spy, Telemakos is sent to study with his uncle in the royal court of Himyar, where he uncovers a plot that will pit his well-honed talent for espionage against his genuine affection for his new home and his instincts for self-preservation. Telemakos grows more and more likable as his vulnerabilities surface behind his childlike springiness: his devotion to his sister, his desire for a less distant father, and his determination to overcome the residual effects of his imprisonment render him humble and accessible despite the fact that he is clearly exceptional, even kingly, at twelve years of age. After the lion attack shatters the quiet domesticity to which Telemakos has returned after his earlier adventures, Wein keeps the tension quiveringly high even at moments of rest and relative calm; readers sense that Telemakos must never again make the mistake of complacency in the presence of those who are mostly tame, be they lions or men.”

—Karen Coats, Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

 

(Click here to purchase The Lion Hunter as an e-book from Open Road Media)

 

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The Empty Kingdom (the Mark of Solomon part 2)

The Empty Kingdom by Elizabeth Wein cover art

"Telemakos has endured trials that would have broken men and women twice his age, and yet he emerges ever more worthy of the faith his royal family has placed in him. Caught spying on his protector in The Lion Hunter, he now lives under the threat of imminent execution should he give Abreha reason to suspect his loyalty. Nonetheless, he strives to send coded messages of Abreha's plans against the Emperor of his home kingdom in letters to his family. The problem is that his loyalties are conflicted. Clearly, Abreha has broken the Emperor's quarantine in the past and is now plotting to attack his fleet, but he has also shown great favor to Telemakos, despite the fact that Abreha keeps the boy under guard and holds his life in his hands. Indeed, while he treats him harshly, he also honors him as he would his own son. Wein pursues an ingenious plotline in this conclusion to the Mark of Solomon duology: as she has done throughout the tales of Telemakos, she maintains a breathless suspense while developing a character of true weight and greatness. On the one hand, Telemakos is an aspiring adolescent, eager to please the powerful adults in his life and prove himself worthy of their love; on the other, he is a vulnerable victim of past abuse, haunted by dreams and in need of the adoration and loyalty of his baby sister to soothe his pain and anchor him. Mostly, though, he is a future king in the tradition of T.H. White's fully human Arthur, a person of great strength, wisdom, and daring who is nonetheless flawed, perhaps fatally, by an inability to discern who to trust. Surely readers haven't heard the last of this worthy yet accessible hero."
—Karen Coats, Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

 

(Click here to purchase The Empty Kingdom as an e-book from Open Road Media)

 

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