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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
Princess and the Captain (The)
by Anne-Laure Bondoux
Age Range: 12+
On the eve of her arranged marriage to the Prince of Andermark, the beautiful and feisty sixteen-year-old Princess Malva of Galnicia is planning her escape while her parents, the Coronador and Coronada are planning a sumptuous reception. Together with her friend and maid Philomena, and with the help of the Archont her tutor, Malva flees the palace. They embark for Lombardaine on a sailing ship but their journey turns out to be a perilous one when they are shipwrecked, kidnapped by a barbarous tribe and imprisoned in a harem. Malva learns too that she has an arch enemy, one who will stop at nothing to destroy her.
Parellel to Malva’s story is that of Orpheus McBott, a young man with an ambition to sail the seas like his father. Hannibal McBott was known as a local hero but he reveals to his son on his deathbed that he was a pirate and robber. Devastated, Orpheus volunteers his services to the Coronador and joins the crew of the Errabunda in the search for the princess.
Rescuing Malva from Termir-Gai’s Cage of Torments in the harem where she languishes, Orpheus plans to return to Galnicia with the princess. However, after a terrible storm and most of the crew drowned, Orpheus finds himself the Captain of the ship, his companions consisting of two lively stowaway twins, Hob and Peppe, Babilas the silent giant, Finipico the bad tempered cook, Malva’s new friend Lei, with her incredible healing powers and ability to talk many languages and Zeph his old St Bernard dog. Together they set off on an amazing journey that takes them to the frontiers of the Known World and into the land of the fearful goddess Catabea. In order to survive they must obey the laws of the Archipelago. She gives them a Nokros – a Killer of Time. It contains eight stones of life, one for each of them which dissolve with each passing hour. Each person has to confront their fears and demons in order to discover their destiny.
A lengthy odyssey full of classical imagery, mythology and ancient beliefs that are woven into the fabric of the novel. It is a voyage of self discovery for both Malva and Orpheus where challenges have to be overcome. Malva’s search for her El Dorado – the magical island of Elgolia turns out not to be what she expected or hoped for, but as a result of her epic journey she discovers friendship, love and heartbreak.