Let’s start with an admission. Tachyon is swiftly becoming this writer’s favourite publishing house for fantasy fiction and this latest offering from Nancy Springer is right up there with other authors in their stable like Patricia A. McKillip, Peter S. Beagle, and Ellen Klages. This is luminous writing that enfolds the reader like a spell from the very first page. Some may find the stylistic language and first-person POV off-putting to begin with but stick with it because there is something beautifully out-of-time about the way Springer weaves her words that fit the atmosphere of this tale enormously well. This is an alien medieval world, but her prose makes us feel immediately at home here.
But what really sets THE ODDLING PRINCE apart from other similarly-themed stories is its emotional intensity. The bond between Aric and Albaric feels totally real, and the complicated relationship that emerges between Albaric and their father has a genuine heart-breaking complexity. We might be in the realms of fantasy, but the dynamics between the characters – the love, guilt, doubt and pain – are all recognisably human. Albaric is fey, but he has given up so much (including his immortality) to save the king’s life and be among mortals, and Aric – as the only character who truly feels Albaric’s agony – is a good-hearted man who is immediately torn between his loyalty for his newly-discovered sibling and his fealty to his king, a king who seems to deny Albaric’s very existence. There are other fantastic characters in this book, moments of great action, and a genuine external jeopardy to overcome, but it is this intriguing push-pull between the three men that we believe makes THE ODDLING PRINCE such a richly textured and transformative read. Hold onto your bows and arrows Elflings, we might have an early contender for the best fantasy novel of 2018.
JASMIN’S LIBRARY enjoyed the novel.
The story of THE ODDLING PRINCE is harmoniously paced with a wonderful atmosphere and loveable characters. I found it extremely refreshing to have a male protagonist and follow his innocent yet strong character throughout the book. But I also grew to love peaceful Albaric as well as the adorable Marissa, who was named an enemy to the kingdom due her heritage but proofed to be its sanctuary. There is very little violence and just the hint of romance in the book, which is also new to my reading habits, but simply perfect for the story and its characters. Since I have never before read a book by Nancy Springer, I needed quite some time to adjust to her writing style but found it very enjoyable in the end.
All in all the story itself is a wonderful piece of literature and definitely worth a read, even though I personally prefer more action. Still the plot was thoughtfully handled and the characters were undoubtedly the heart of THE ODDLING PRINCE.
Photo: Lyla Ellzey
Springer recently participated in a REDDIT AMA.
Someone crossposted this to r/fantasy or I would have totally missed it (I only hang out in one place on reddit or I’d be here all day and get nothing done).
First, I am so excited to see an AMA from you! I read your Book of the Isles novels back in my teenage years, which helped to spark my life love of fantasy and I spent years trying to find something that hit me as hard emotionally and imaginatively as that series did. They were gorgeous! I spent many hours trying to draw the back cover from The White Hart and horses from your novels 😉 (I have the art still and it’s quite embarrassing.)
Recently, I was lucky enough to read The Oddling Prince (netgalley) and I adored it! I couldn’t have asked for a better return to your early fantasy. I took a trip down memory lane and reread the first couple books from the Isles series after finishing it, then Larque on the Wing, and your Sea King trilogy which I didn’t even know about! It’s a wonder I ever found any book by authors I liked pre-internet, I don’t know what I would do without Amazon and kindle anymore…
I’m trying to think of a question but all am managing is gushing…lol But it’s so cool to be able to tell the author of whom I have had a lifelong love of their novels, just how much they touched me!
So, lets see, I’ve always wondered what sparked your love of the brothers by choice even if not by blood, theme you have in a lot of fantasy? Do you have a brother/sister? wish you did? Wish you didn’t? lol
Also are we going to see more like the Oddling Prince now that you have returned to your roots for that? Has it opened a can of worms (so to speak)and do we have more to look forward to in the fantasy side of the genre?
Thank you for gushing over me! I adore being gushed over.
That oddity of mine, two hero/brothers, one dark, mystic and moody, the other fair and friendly: I was trying, unconsciously and psychologically, to get me and myself together. The dark, moody side of me had been so repressed that it wasn’t until after 30, and several novels, that I was able to recognize my own emotions. After a while I got more together, and realized I was female, and my writing went on in other forms.
But I am delighted that you enjoyed The Oddling Prince, a deliberate return to my roots. As for what lies ahead, hey, I’m seventy years old, so who knows?
Thanks for being a great fan!
For more info on THE ODDLING PRINCE, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover art by Brian Giberson
Design by Elizabeth Story