Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

The Player King

The Player King

Fall 2017 Fiction
Ages: 8 - 12 yrs.
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 9781481437684
Hardcover Price: $16.99

Lambert Simnel is used to taking abuse and following orders. As an orphan working as a scullion at Tackley's Tavern in fifteenth century London, he has no memory of any other kind of life. So when a strange friar, Brother Simonds, buys him from Tackley's and insists upon teaching him to remember his true identity as King Edward the Sixth of England, Lambert is so frightened that at first he tries to run back to his life of deprivation, which is at least familiar. Slowly, Brother Simonds convinces Lambert that he can and must learn to play the role of a king, and explains that he will raise an army against the usurper Henry VII. Lambert soon learns, however, that the scheming, ambitious Earl of Lincoln stands behind the plan for Lambert to lead the rebellion, and he begins to question whether Lincoln ever means to let Lambert actually ascend to the throne.

Avi's new historical novel imagines the feelings and motivations of an actual historical figure, Lambert Simnel, who led an unsuccessful rebellion against England's King Henry VII by posing as a prince who had escaped being murdered in the Tower of London. The reader follows Lambert's growing awareness of politics, and of the ways in which all people, even 'legitimate' power brokers, play roles that never quite fit. This is the strongest aspect of the novel; in the last third, when the rebellion begins, plot details about gathering and organizing an army tend to distract from the inner growth that is the main focal point of the novel. Nevertheless, history buffs will enjoy this account of an interesting moment in British history.

Naomi Lesley   ©2017 Parents' Choice
Naomi Lesley taught middle and high school English for six years. She is currently in a doctoral program at the George Washington University, focusing on American young adult literature.

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