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Elske Hardcover – October 1, 1999

43 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews Review

"The Volkking struggled, but his sickness attacked him both day and night, a war band giving the enemy no respite of sleep." With the first sentence of Elske readers are tumbled into a vivid medieval world whose rich, elegant detail only continues to entrance. Newbery Award winner Cynthia Voigt (Dicey's Song) brings her Kingdom series to a superb conclusion with this fourth and final story. At age 12, living as a captive in her Viking-styled Volkaric homeland, Elske has been appointed to die. Her grandmother plots to take her place secretly, so that Elske can escape to the merchant society of Traskad. Once there, she becomes a servant to the imperious young noblewoman Beriel--who insists on being the rightful heir to the throne of The Kingdom. Elske finds that while Beriel is stubborn and headstrong, the exiled young queen matches Elske's own honesty and gutsiness, and they soon become allies in the perilous battle to regain the crown. Like the other three books in the series--Jackaroo, On Fortune's Wheel, and The Wings of a Falcon--this story is linked to the others only loosely and can easily stand alone. But young readers who have once experienced Voigt's beautifully drawn characters, lush settings, and riveting plots will certainly want to seek out the rest of the epic tale. (Ages 12 and older) --Patty Campbell

From Publishers Weekly

The fourth and final title in Voigt's Kingdom cycle (begun with Jackaroo) is thrilling, from its dramatic opener to its stunning climax. Newcomers to the Kingdom books can read it with as much pleasure as fans of the entire series (and without ruining for themselves the surprises of those previous works). Set in an imaginary continent that resembles medieval Europe, the story begins in the brutal realm of the Wolfers, a ruthless people among whom 12-year-old Elske has been raised and, horrifyingly, chosen for a sacrificial death. How Elske escapes this fate is the first of many ingeniously plotted turns, reversals that depend on the heroine's intelligence and determination rather than coincidence or authorial sleight-of-hand. There is much to marvel at. Voigt demonstrates a remarkable breadth of imagination in dreaming up the customs of the various lands Elske moves through; e.g., a Scandinavian-type city builds a thriving economy by hosting biannual "courting winters" for young marriageable, wealthy foreigners. The cast also includes a princess wrongfully deprived of a throne (and willing to go to war to claim it) and a man worthy of Elske but chosen for one of the princess's sisters. The characterizations are as sharp and uncompromising as Voigt's readers have come to expect, and the narration never tips the author's hand. This spellbinding work continually challenges readers to keep up with its far-seeing, swift-thinking protagonist. Ages 12-up. (Oct.) FYI: The Vermeer masterpiece that appears on the jacket, Head of a Girl (a painting that also appears this season on the cover of the adult novel Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier), links Elske with the simultaneously reissued paperback of another novel in the Kingdom cycle, On Fortune's Wheel (S&S/ Aladdin, $5.50 -82957-4), the jacket of which features Vermeer's Woman Reading a Letter.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 980L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Atheneum/Anne Schwartz Books; 1st edition (October 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0689824726
  • ISBN-13: 978-0689824722
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.9 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #448,294 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Cynthia Voigt won the Newbery Medal for Dicey's Song and the Newbery Honor Award for A Solitary Blue, both part of the beloved Tillerman Cycle. She is also the author of many other celebrated books for middle-grade and teen readers, including Izzy, Willy-Nilly and Jackaroo. She was awarded the Margaret A. Edwards Award in 1995 for her work in literature, and the Katahdin Award in 2004. She lives in Maine.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Mo VINE VOICE on March 26, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Elske is a book of unusually clear insight and resonant truth; Voigt never lapses into cliches to avoid ugly situations that many other authors would. Set in the same world as earlier Kingdom books (Jackaroo, On Fortune's Wheel, The Wings of a Falcon), Elske has very rich and believable settings that are always gritty and realistic. No pink sugar-spun clouds here. Voigt is ruthless in presenting some of the ugliness in life, but she emphasizes truth and honor and love in life in spite of betrayals and falsehoods. Characterization is also some of the best I've read for awhile, and Elske's in particular develops realistically and well. My only criticism is the pacing, as I felt more time ought to have been spent on Beriel's reclaiming of the Kingdom and on Elske's romance.
All in all, a most excellent and heartfelt novel for the mature teen. The funny thing is that I don't know that I would have cared to see the truths it shows two years ago, so I'd recommend waiting to read it at the ripe old age of fifteen or sixteen. Also, for those who like the rich setting-- not quite fantasy, not quite history, try The Raging Quiet, by Sherryl Jordan.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Amazonbombshell on December 11, 2002
Format: Paperback
Clean, effective writing and a great plot are trademarks of Cynthia Voigt's work, and the more she writes, the better she gets. I read some of her earlier books beginning around the age of eleven -- Homecoming, Dicey's Song, Seventeen Against the Dealer, Jackaroo, The Callendar Papers -- and I've never forgotten them. Voigt doesn't shy away from complex, adult issues; instead she makes them challenging and yet accessable for anyone.
I saw ELSKE on this site and couldn't resist buying it to see if Voigt was still as good as ever. Turns out she's even better -- I've read all the books in the "Kingdom" series and this, though I love the others, is my favorite. It's an adventure story about two young women making their own way in a world against them, and it's got everything: "primitive" tribal customs, plots against a royal family, narrow escapes, war, even love. It's got morals, too, but Voigt skillfully avoids hitting you over the head with them. All told, it's as great for adults as for kids.
NOTE: I would recommend that any "kid" reading it be old enough/mature enough to understand and handle things like rape and sexual innuendo, which are in no way graphic or overdone, but certainly are important elements in the story.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 30, 1999
Format: Hardcover
In one word, this book is wonderful. I read Jackaroo and On Fortune's Wheel when I was 14, and now I have read The Wings of a Falcon and Elske, when I am 18. Although labeled Young Adult, this series is good for adults of all ages. If only Cynthia Voigt would write more in this series!!!!!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 22, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I just finished the Jackaroo series, with Elske, and enjoyed every book! While I was somewhat disappointed with the emotional "detachment" of the characters in Wings of the Falcon, Elske re-establishes Voight's strength of characterization and imagery. Although I can understand concern for some of the content of Elske, the story does not dwell upon violence or "adult behavior" in the least, nor does it deal explicitly with such, and focuses, instead, on Elske's development from an innocent girl, raised in a barbaric society, to a mature and courageous woman. In truth, maturity is required to wholly grasp the rich lessons of the story; and therefore, the story is more appropriate for older teens and adults. Once again, however, I found myself wrapped up in the world of the Kingdom and the fates of two young women struggling to overcome their foes in the face of prejudice (toward women), tyranny, and death. A rewarding tale!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By M. Hofmann on January 27, 2006
Format: Paperback
I believe that Cynthia Voigt's previous installment in her "Kingdom" series was "The Wings of the Falcon". This is the only other book out of the series that I have completely read as of yet; however, it gave me the impression that Voigt is capable of writing much, much better novels than she did this time around. In "Elske", Voigt goes way into detail with less interesting events- banquets, walking from point A to point B, and so on and so forth. She also seems far too enamored by the pretty brightness and cleverness of the protagonist she has created, making much of how quick-witted Elske is while failing to put in any significant internal conflicts or character flaws that would have made her more compelling.

One thing that would have improved the story would have been if Voigt had gone more into depth about the more interesting events of the story, or at least had Elske react more strongly to them. For example, another reviewer here spoke of the relationship between Elske and Dugald, her love interest. Voigt must have put in around five short interactions between the two- more or less- before they were confessing their desire for one another. And those interactions were not very deep, either- somehow, they failed to be convincing. Birle's spontaneous love in "On Fortune's Wheel" was much more convincing than Elske's; Cynthia Voigt could have made much more of it.

Now, don't get me wrong- "Elske" is not necessarily a bad novel. The way the world and time period were depicted, as well as the customs and traditions of the peoples who inhabited it, were all very well fleshed-out and believable. However, the characters and plot were a huge disappointment after having read the much more gripping "Falcon" and parts of "On Fortune's Wheel".
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