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Every Inch a King Hardcover – November 11, 2005

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 314 pages
  • Publisher: ISFiC Press; First Edition edition (November 11, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0975915614
  • ISBN-13: 978-0975915615
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,217,378 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Fantastical historian Turtledove (Settling Accounts: The Grapple) puts a merry spin on the true tale of circus clown Otto Witte, who enjoyed a brief and glorious reign over Albania in 1913 thanks to a case of mistaken identity and the help of sword-swallower Max Schlepsig. Here, Turtledove reimagines Albania as Shqiperi, Otto Witte as Otto of Schlepsig, Max Schlepsig as Max of Witte, and disguises various other people and places in more (Ottoman Empire: Hassocki Empire) and less (Macedonia: Fyrom) obvious ways, while the seas are populated with serpents, and turn-of-the-20th-century technology is replaced by wizards. Masquerading as Prince Halim Eddin, Otto bullies and bluffs his way with Max across the continent in fine style. They enjoy the many pleasures of the Shqiperi palace, plundering its harem and treasury before making good their escape. Fictionalized reality requires top-notch style to balance the lack of suspense, and while Turtledove provides credible wordplay and commentary, he's no Terry Pratchett. Nonetheless, this stand-alone novel is a fun romp through an undeservedly obscure moment in history. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.


Turtledove is a master at weaving details of ordinary life into a much bigger canvas to produce a world that so easily could have been our own. --Tulsa World, on Blood and Iron

Turtledove manages the difficult feat of telling a story that is consistently funny and wistful, exciting, tragic and swashbuckling at the same time. The characters are intensely human and the setting marvelously Ruritanian, down to the smallest impeccable detail conveyed with a master's economical brushstroke. --S. M. Stirling

More About the Author

Harry Turtledove is the award-winning author of the alternate-history works The Man with the Iron Heart; The Guns of the South; How Few Remain (winner of the Sidewise Award for Best Novel); the Worldwar saga: In the Balance, Tilting the Balance, Upsetting the Balance, and Striking the Balance; the Colonization books: Second Contact, Down to Earth, and Aftershocks; the Great War epics: American Front, Walk in Hell, and Breakthroughs; the American Empire novels: Blood & Iron, The Center Cannot Hold, and Victorious Opposition; and the Settling Accounts series: Return Engagement, Drive to the East, The Grapple, and In at the Death. Turtledove is married to fellow novelist Laura Frankos. They have three daughters: Alison, Rachel, and Rebecca.

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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I heartily recommend this book.
S. M Stirling
As with Turtledove's Dettina series, one of the most entertaining exercises for the reader is working out what the names mean - mostly country names in this case.
Marshall Lord
I just found it a little too dull to read it all the way through.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Marshall Lord TOP 1000 REVIEWER on June 20, 2006
Format: Hardcover
One of the funniest books I've read for a long time.

As with his "Derlavi" and "Dettina" series, Turtledove has taken real events, moved them to a world with magic instead of technology, and changed the names and compass points. But where the "Derlavi" series which began with "Darkness Descending" was a very dark account of World War Two, and the "Dettina" series which began with "Sentry Peak" was an account of the American Civil war with a mixture of military history and whimsy, this story about a circus clown who managed to get himself crowned King of Albania is farce from beginning to end.

Because the outrageous events described in this book have been discreetly omitted from serious history books about the founding of the nation of Albania, I had not previously heard of them. However, it was not all that hard to recognise the background of the book as a pretty accurate account of the situation in the Balkans just before World War One, and it didn't take long to look them up. To my astonishment, I discovered that apart from the references to magic, dragons, etc the plot of the book appears to be essentially accurate.

When Albania broke away from the Ottoman Empire in 1913, they offered the throne to Halim Etti, a nephew of the Ottoman sultan. His photograph was published abroad, and a German clown called Otto Witte noticed that he closely resembled Etti. Witte arranged to have a telegram sent from Istanbul to the head of the Albanian army announcing the arrival of the prince. Then he set off for Albania with a sword-swallower called Max Schlepsig - some sources say Hoffman - playing the role of his aide-de-camp. The pair of imposters arrived in "borrowed" theatre costume uniforms and were saluted by the port authorities.
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful By S. M Stirling on March 24, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Being consistently funny is about the most difficult of literary feats. Turtledove manages it here without (visibly) breaking a sweat. The lowest response-meter anywhere in this one was a broad grin!

Best of all, it's based closely on real history; most of this stuff (the magic aside) actually happened.

I heartily recommend this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on March 30, 2007
Format: Paperback
One night after a stellar performance given by Dooger and Clark's Traveling Emporium, circus performance Otto of Schlepsig reads in the paper that the temporary ruler of Shqiperi wants the Hassockian Empire to send Prince Hallim Eddin to be their new king. Accompanying the article is a picture of the prince who could be Otto's identical twin. Not one to miss such an opportunity, Otto and his friend Jim the sword swallower head for Shqiperi.

On the trek they have to first fight off a sea serpent and a vampire which they ultimately do. When they arrive, Otto, masquerading as the prince, orders Essad Pasha to introduce him to the army. He also wants the treasury and his harem moved to his palace after he is crowned king. He shows Essad Pasha in various ways that he will not be a puppet ruler and earns respect for that. Otto shares everything with Jim but his friend worries that they will be found out and if they don't come up with a plan of escape if circumstances warrant, they will be killed.

EVERY INCH A KING is a delightful, straight forward fairy tale that will definitely enchant the audience. The main character is an anti-hero scammer and con artist, who doesn't have a mean bone in his body and would be a good ruler given the chance. Readers will adore him and hope he doesn't get himself killed. Fans of Harry Turtledove's epic alternate histories should know he is a great fantasist of smaller scale alleged events as well.

Harriet Klausner
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By Bryan on January 8, 2013
Format: Paperback
I found this book to be a great disappointment. As an avid Turtledove fan, I've read most of his books, and love most of them. Turtledove seems to be at his best when he's writing hard-core alternate history fiction (e.g. How Few Remain and subsequent books); or even straight-up science fiction, such as Noninterference. With "Every Inch a King," he's attempting farce, and it's not his strong suit.


The writing style is too "cute." Told in the first person by a flowery narrator given to hyperbole and vivid similes, it's engaging for the first few pages; tolerable for a chapter or two; and then just really, really starts to grate-- this sort of incessant get-a-joke-in-every-paragraph style works for authors like Douglas Adams or Terry Pratchett, but when Turtledove tries it, he rapidly becomes tiresome. Yes, many of his puns made me snicker... but they couldn't lift the book out of the relentlessly repetitive cheeriness that it clings to.

I found that reading the story reminded me a lot of Piers Anthony's books: I read and loved them when I was 12, but going back and re-reading them as an adult, they seem shallow and painful to slog through. Much of the writing style in this book seems aimed at twelve-year-olds... but so much of the book is taken up with vague-but-titillating, wink-wink-nudge-nudge descriptions of the main characters' sexual escapades in the harem that I can't recommend it for younger readers, either. Too cutesy for adults, too risqué for youngsters; the book seems to be wandering in search of a target demographic.
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