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Prince Conrad: A Fairy Tale

Prince Conrad: A Fairy Tale

By Brian S. Lee

First edition, 2016. Illustrations by Laura Anne Passarello. Portlaoise: Evertype. ISBN 978-1-78201-1 (paperback), price: €15.95, £12.95, $17.95.

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Zedda and Simon scrambled free of their hiding-place in the bushes and started to run quickly in the opposite direction to the goblins. But as Simon looked back to check the goblins’ progress, he clumsily tripped over the roots of an old tree and fell to the ground. Within moments the goblins were upon him, standing over him grinning menacingly.

“Don’t be afraid of us,” said one of the goblins.

“Don’t be afraid of us,” repeated the other goblin.

“That’s right,” said the first goblin. “Don’t be afraid of us.”

“That’s right,” repeated the other goblin. “Don’t be afraid of us.”

Simon lay back on the soft ground and moved his eyes from one goblin to the other. He thought he was hearing an echo inside his head, but then realized that one goblin was repeating everything the other goblin had said. They appeared stupid and not at all dangerous, and Simon did not feel that they were in any way a threat. He relaxed and swung his head round to see where Zedda had gone, and could see his friend standing a short distance away, his hands pressed defiantly into his sides, as he usually did when he wanted to appear brave. It was obvious to Simon that the goblins could see him too.

Prince Conrad

Prince Conrad and his men attend a banquet hosted by a dwarf in a forest. When they ride away, with a little dog given them by the dwarf as a present, they discover that three hundred years have passed. They dare not dismount till the little dog does so, which the dwarf has trained it never to do. But after about a hundred years it finds something strange to investigate (later to be revealed), and then it leads the Prince to a kindly woodcutter, who is Chief Wood Supplier to the palace kitchen. The woodcutter drives the by now ragged and unprincely-looking Prince in his cart, in which the Prince is at first too proud to ride, to the city where once he ruled. But of course no one knows him now, and the present Ruler dresses him as a jester and shuts him up in a bare attic with a pet monkey till he learns to be less arrogant and demanding.

Meanwhile his sister Princess Sophia, warned by an extraordinary doll Great-Aunt Bobatilda had given her as an unwanted birthday present, of Conrad's danger, had set off into the forest on a pony Great-Aunt Bobatilda hadn't given her, but meets a witch who casts her into an enchanted sleep that lasts throughout the years of Conrad's adventure.

The dwarf tries to trap the woodcutter, but he is saved by a strange old man warming himself at a brazier in the forest, whom the woodcutter had helped when he was hungry. The woodcutter befriends a large, clumsy and rather dim-witted troll who has "defected" from the dwarf's service.

The question is, can all the "good" characters, aided or hindered by the little dog, the monkey and Grimgobolus the witch's pony, defeat the machinations of dwarf and witch? First the Prince and Princess must learn to stop being "incredibly mean and stuck-up", as one child-reader accurately put it! Conrad and the troll will have to take an exciting journey across the Will-'o-the-wisp's lake and into the dwarf's kingdom, to meet bouncing sciapods, ciconian spearmen and other strange servants of his, and even get trapped up a chimney in his castle. Can they escape? What use will a farmer's boy named Bemond be to the hunted Prince? And how will the Ruler of Conrad's city be able to cope when the dwarf's terrible swordsmen invade his kingdom? Can Conrad's huntsmen, turned into spectres by their long fruitless wanderings in the forest, be brought back into the real world to help protect the citizens? And what will happen when two boys, Ferdinand from a village in the forest and Oscar from a mean street in the town, both fall in love with the Princess?

HTML Michael Everson, Evertype, 73 Woodgrove, Portlaoise, R32 ENP6, Ireland, 2016-02-29

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