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When The King Comes Home by Caroline…
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When The King Comes Home (edition 2001)

by Caroline Stevermer

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3431031,955 (3.57)11
Member:donnao
Title:When The King Comes Home
Authors:Caroline Stevermer
Info:Tor Fantasy (2001), Edition: 1st, Mass Market Paperback, 256 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***1/2
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When the King Comes Home by Caroline Stevermer (Author)

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  1. 10
    The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley (wisewoman)
    wisewoman: Both stories are well written and feature an unconventional heroine who works hard in her chosen field of study and is instrumental in saving a kingdom.
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» See also 11 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
It’s been awhile since I read the other two books in this series, which meant that I wasn’t quite sure where this one was supposed to fall in the timeline. The first two were both sort of early 20th century, whereas this one seemed much more Renaissance-y. Eventally I just let it go and enjoyed the book. I found all of the details about learning to be an artist fascinating. I also liked the fact that it didn’t have romance, but didn’t have it in a way that seemed natural to the character. Quite different from the other books, but good. ( )
  maureene87 | Apr 4, 2013 |
wasn't feeling it.
  JenneB | Apr 2, 2013 |
What a strange mix of reality and fantasy. In this story, Caroline Stevermer combines elements of Catholic Christianity, black magic, Renaissance Europe, and her own imagined realm of kingdoms to dish up an unusual take on Arthurian legend.

I loved the writing. I've read the three books in the Sorcery and Cecelia series that Stevermer co-authored with Patricia Wrede and enjoyed them quite a bit, but in this novel Stevermer really shows what she can do as a prose stylist. Other reviewers, quoted in the first couple pages of my paperback copy, rightly praise the "economy and grace" of Stevermer's prose.

Unfortunately, the story itself is somewhat lacking. Many things go unexplained and the reader follows the characters without really understanding their motivations and goals. The narrator Hail Rosamer is well developed, but she's pretty much the only one. The plot feels disjointed and is not particularly memorable.

I found the inclusion of real-life saints and religious references pleasant and not at all jarring, but unfortunately the simplistic Roman Catholic notion of "be a good person to get into heaven" is very much present and Hail takes an arrogant stance: "If honest repentance is required, St. Peter will turn me away. Fair enough" (236). It soured the ending for me; Hail is basically saying, "God, I'd like to get into heaven on my terms, but if You won't let me, it's Your loss." Unattractive, to say the least.

In some ways the story reminded me of Robin McKinley's The Hero and the Crown—and not many fantasy stories can boast a comparison to that favorite of mine. Ultimately, however, Stevermer's story is far less cohesive and compelling than McKinley's, and I'm not sure I will ever revisit Stevermer's novel. But I'd say When the King Comes Home is somewhat better than the usual run of short fantasy novels, if only for the prose. Nicely done, but there's no need to dash out to find this one. ( )
4 vote wisewoman | Aug 22, 2011 |
One of the blurbers on the back of my copy describes the world in this novel as 'an angel's wing away from our own' and it's a good description. Though there is an element of fantasy or magic, this is a book firmly set in Renaissance Europe. I enjoyed Hail's tenacity and intuitiveness. The storyline seemed a bit of a paradox - the magic was strong enough to make people do things against their will, and yet when it was ended, the actual conflict was quickly resolved. I did like the exploration of will - how the binding of it is horrible, and how it is tricky. Enjoyable entertainment. ( )
  tjsjohanna | Sep 1, 2010 |
I liked this book better than I expected, given that I really did not enjoy A College of Magics. I could like the protagonist, even though it did get the point where she's going around with these people for no particular reason and also seems to be an adjunct to the actual goings-on. She does actually do things and has at least one important thing to do.I think I picked this book up for a promised threesome. That is, a love triangle that's not at odds with itself. There might be another word for this? Love triad? Anyhow, there is one, but you have to read into it a little bit. And it doesn't involve the main character, though it is central to the story.So, in short, it's pretty good.(I'm not sure why it says A College of Magics in parantheses on goodreads. This may take place in the same world, possibly, though I'm not too sure about that. Otherwise it has nothing to do with it as far as I know.) ( )
  Jellyn | Jan 27, 2010 |
Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Stevermer, CarolineAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Sherman, DeliaEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Carol Jean Stevermer
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I was born on the coldest day of the year.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0812589815, Mass Market Paperback)

When the King comes home... miracles will occur, the rivers will run with wine, all wishes will be granted. The kingdom of Aravis believes its beloved King Julian, dead 200 years, will return in the hour of its greatest need--and surely that hour is now. The current king is ancient, witless, and dying without an heir, the sinister Prince Bishop controls both church and state, and rebellion is brewing in the provinces.

Hail Rosmer has no interest in politics or legends. The daughter of a rural wool merchant, Hail wishes only to be a great artist. And her wish is granted, it seems, when she is sent to the city of Aravis to apprentice with Madame Carriera and study the works of King Julian's artist, the infamous Maspero. But Hail's fate is forever changed--as changed as the fate of Aravis itself--when she sees a man who looks exactly like King Julian. Marvels and wonders there will be--and events far darker and more dangerous than were ever imagined in legend.

When the King Comes Home is a smart, sly, unpredictable, and fascinating fantasy that lives up to the high standards of Caroline Stevermer's critically acclaimed previous novels, A College of Magics and River Rats. --Cynthia Ward

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:25:04 -0400)

"Good King Julian of Aravis has been dead for two hundred years, but his kingdom still misses him. The current occupant of the throne is old and witless and has no heir. The true ruler of Aravis is the powerful Prince Bishop, who controls both church and state." -- Jacket.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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