August 27, 2014

Tomorrow's Kingdom

nota bene: As Tomorrow's Kingdom is the final book 
in The Gypsy King trilogy, 
I adamantly recommend that, 
if you haven't read Books 1 and 2 already, 
please read them first 
to enjoy the full effect of The Gypsy King trilogy.  
It is so worth it!

by Maureen Fergus
448 pp.
Ages 12+
July, 2014

Persephone's trajectory has been an extraordinary one from The Gypsy King (Razorbill, 2012) to A Fool's Errand (Razorbill, 2013) and now Tomorrow's Kingdom.  From slave to long-lost twin of King Finnius, then seeker of the healing Pool of Genesing and initially-reluctant bride of the gypsy Azriel, Persephone launches Tomorrow's Kingdom as the true Queen, and hostage of Regent Mordecai who intends to wed her and rule the kingdom himself.

In addition to Mordecai plotting Persephone's future with him, Lord Bartok is working with the other lords to liberate and return her to the throne, by attacking Mordecai's New Men army.  Of course, Bartok plans to wed Persephone himself, in case his daughter Aurelia, who is pretending to be pregnant with King Finnius' child, doesn't succeed in making it a pseudo-reality with some random man.

If Persephone is anything, she is amazingly strong and determined, first to save herself and then focus on her next steps. 
"All that was left to do was to find Azriel, prevent the slaughter of the tribes, save the Kingdom and take the throne." (pg. 113)
Yeah, that's all. 

But, just as Persephone has been transformed, so too has Azriel, from chicken thief and proud Gypsy and target of Mordecai's New Men army, to Persephone's devoted protector and amorous husband.  And when he learns that she is pregnant with his child, there is nothing he won't do to keep her safe.

It's a fight for tomorrow's kingdom, a kingdom which Persephone has promised will unite the five tribes–Erok, Gypsies, Khan, Marinese and Gorgishmen–of Glyndoria.  But, with so much plotting for the throne, it's not surprising that deception and battle may be deemed necessary.  But who is deceiving whom?  Well, it's not Persephone with Azriel or vice versa, and that is the sweetness in a battle-ridden conclusion to the trilogy.  While Books 1 and 2 have Persephone and Azriel doing some romantic sparring as they sort out their feelings for each other and attempt to interpret the other's actions (often incorrectly), Tomorrow's Kingdom releases the reader from worrying whether the two lovers will find their way to each other.  They have.  Now there's so much more to worry about: an angry Mordecai who is losing his grip on his New Men army; Lord Bartok whose plans for control are being thwarted by his hapless son and daughter; the tribes who all have some reservations about Persephone's prophesized reign; and the healthy birth of a baby that may mean everything to everyone.

Maureen Fergus is so adept at carrying readers away to a different land and time, of cultures and societies so different than our own, where their speech is different, from crass to formal, their lifestyles foreign (in more ways than one), and their spirits undefinable.  From vivid descriptions of scenery,
" she beheld the sprawling castle that rose up before her.  Built in the shadow of a barren mountain at the very edge of a high cliff, it was constructed of blackest stone.  Except for along the cliff edge, it was protected by a wall so thick that a brace of oxen could have pulled a wagon along the top if it hadn't been for the iron spikes set every few feet.  Several of these spikes were topped with heads that appeared to have been dipped in tar to slow the process of decay; the rest stood empty and waiting against a backdrop of low clouds scudding across the stormy sky." (pg. 65)
to experiences beyond my imagination,
"After shoving into her mouth a piece of meat so tender, juicy, fragrant and delicious that she almost started to cry, Persephone unenthusiastically handed the rotten-toothed man his share." (pg. 134) 
and the seasoned speech of any character, including the third-person speaking Gorgishman,
     "Miter has not pledged friendship!" reminded the Gorgishman shrilly. "Miter has pledged nothing but his eternal enmity if you take this tiresome war of yours anywhere near his beloved valley!"
     "Oh, stop," said the Gypsy dryly.  "You're making me feel all choked up inside."
(pg. 327)
the text becomes a part of the plot, enriching all elements of the story.  Every word spoken or not is fulfilling to the experience that is Tomorrow's Kingdom, as was in The Gypsy King and A Fool's Errand. But here we have the delight of a hard-earned happy finale, with a last-minute surprise or two, before ending with the words, "The Gypsy that would be king." (pg. 456)

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