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The City in the Lake Mass Market Paperback – March 8, 2011


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Laurel Leaf (March 8, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 044024059X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0440240594
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 4.1 x 6.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,859,689 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 8 Up—King Drustan's heir has vanished. With Prince Cassiel missing, nothing is right: the trees do not bear fruit and babies are stillborn. Attempting to unravel this mystery is Neill, the King's elder son known throughout court as "the Bastard," and Timou, a 17-year-old mage who has learned her art from her father. Though Neill and Timou have never met, they share a common origin: an enigmatic woman with pale hair and dark eyes who bore them to their respective fathers before vanishing. When she does return, this powerful sorceress is bent on using her offspring and her magic to seize control of the Kingdom. This poetically written tale follows its multi-threaded story line through sinister forests, mazes of light, and numerous worlds, including a different facet of the Kingdom—a perfect realm frozen in time and reflected in the lake surrounding the City. Though the how and why of all of this is sometimes vague, Neumeier spins a good tale of two young people coming to terms with a sinister heritage. Give this one to readers who enjoy the dark, dreamlike fantasy of Neil Gaiman.—Christi Esterle, Parker Library, CO
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* The City in the Lake is a robust, prosperous kingdom until Prince Cassiel vanishes. Beloved by all, the prince represents the kingdom’s heart, and after his disappearance, life withers throughout the land. In a remote village, 17-year-old Timou’s father, a mage, departs for the city to search for the source of the kingdom’s malaise, and when he doesn’t return, Timou sets off after him. Her journey requires her, for the first time, to draw heavily on her own mage training, and as she circles closer to the kingdom’s mysteries, she finds shocking personal connections and, ultimately, love. Neumeier structures her story around archetypal fantasy elements: mages, magic, and a protagonist whose perilous quest serves as her coming-of-age. It’s the poetic, shimmering language and fascinating unfolding of worlds that elevates this engrossing story beyond its formula. Layered within each other, the discovered kingdoms pulse with enchantments and ancient laws, and Neumeier’s language is particularly poetic in describing her characters’ ever-shifting forms, whether shattered planes of light to ethereal columns of smoke. Fans of Sharon Shinn’s books will find a similar celebration of the natural world—from the dense darkness of a forest to the “crystalline music” of the stars—in this vividly imagined debut. Grades 8-11. --Gillian Engberg --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Rachel Neumeier started writing fiction to relax when she was a graduate student; her first publications appeared in journals such as The American Journal of Botany and and would probably be interesting to a readership in the high dozens. She is confident that her fantasy novels have much greater appeal!

Rachel's first YA fantasy, The City in the Lake, was published in 2008, and was followed by the adult fantasy Griffin Mage trilogy in 2010 and by her second YA, The Floating Islands, in early 2011. She gets her ideas from artwork, from history, from other authors' minor characters, and from just throwing words on the page and seeing what happens.

Rachel now lives in rural Missouri, where, having allowed her hobbies to take over her life, she has a very large garden, a very small orchard, two cats, and many beautiful Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.

Customer Reviews

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See all 13 customer reviews
Although aimed at a teenaged audience, it is sophisticated enough for adults to enjoy as well.
G. Lensing
The author's command of the language crafted a beautiful story, intertwining the lives of two very different characters in a magical kingdom.
Dreams Thunder
Neill, the Bastard, is especially remarkable, both as a character and as a person, and it's very easy to feel protective towards Timou.
Brian M. Scott

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Ned Lilly on November 23, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This is the first published novel by Ms. Neumeier, whom I had the pleasure of meeting recently (we were fortunate enough to acquire a puppy from the family of Cavalier King Charles Spaniels referenced in the author bio).

I agree with the other reviewers that while the book is said to be targeted for young adults, it's an engrossing read for so-called grownups as well. Like any contemporary fantasy story, it has echoes of other works in its characters, storyline, and imagery (I particularly thought I recognized "shadows" of Roger Zelazny's Amber series), but Ms. Neumeier has created a world of surprising depth and complexity for a first-time author.

The prose is naturalistic and immersive, without veering into flowery puff. The story is well-constructed, and follows a satisfying arc that intertwines the journey of the heroine, 17-year old Timou, with powerful forces grappling over the future of the Kingdom - whose heart is the titular City.

It's crisply written - not overlong, which is a wonderful thing in these days when the profession of literary editing seems to be in full retreat. And while there are some adult themes, and some scary imagery, were it ever made into a movie, it would not merit more than a PG rating. I mean this, too, as a compliment. As such, it can be a wonderful introduction to fantasy literature for the young reader - or just a very satisfying way to pass a few days for the more seasoned fantasy fan.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Walt Boyes VINE VOICE on November 24, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Once in a very great while, I am able to feel privileged to read a masterwork. I felt that way when I read The Riddlemaster of Hed and The Tombs of Atuan. I felt that way reading Rachel Neumeier's The City in the Lake.

It is likely that I wouldn't have found this book, even though I find myself reading even more young adult (YA) fantasy, except that I ran into Rachel at Windycon, and she gave me a copy to read. Frabjous joy!

Oh, boy. From the very first page, I got the same sense of being present at the unfolding of a wonder that I received reading Ursula LeGuin, Patricia McKillip, Peter Beagle, Lynn Abbey and the other great modern fantasists, or Cecelia Holland or Dorothy Dunnett, great writers as well.

I am here to tell you that this is a great book, and it is a wonderful read. It should not be restricted to young adult readers, either. The themes and dimensions of the story resonate well with young adult readers, and also the most adult of us.

There's a City in the lake, beside which a city has been built. As in Roger Zelazny's Chronicles of Amber, this city is more than just a single place, it spans all of existence and is the bedrock upon which the entire universe is built. There is evil in the world as well, and the evil wants to devour the power that is intrinsic to the City.

The evil is personified in a woman, sorceress and perhaps demon. She bears a child to the King of the City, and then leaves, abandoning her son.

There is a girl-child named Timou, fathered by a mage named Kapoen, who decides, when her father disappears, to seek him in the City. Timou has grown up in a small village, learning wizardry from her father, and the customs and culture of a small village from her surroundings.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By G. Lensing on September 1, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This is a fantasy novel about a magical Kingdom and what happens when its beloved Prince, heir to the throne, mysteriously disappears while out riding in the countryside. Meanwhile, in a tiny village in a remote part of the Kingdom, a girl named Timou is growing up with her father, a mysterious mage named Kapoen. He willingly teaches her the ways of magecraft, but of her mother, whom Timou never knew, he will not say a word. The Prince's disappearance causes ill effects throughout the Kingdom, even reaching Timou's village, and eventually Kapoen sets out for the City in the Lake to offer his services to the King. When he does not return, 17-year-old Timou sets out after him, and that quest sets in motion the adventures that are the main action of the book.

I haven't read a fantasy novel in years, but I liked this, Neumeier's first novel, a lot. Although aimed at a teenaged audience, it is sophisticated enough for adults to enjoy as well. It contains some violence and cruelty, but nothing gory or gruesome. And although it contains no sex, the subjects of the Kingdom are not ignorant of the birds and the bees; indeed, the first main character we meet is the King's illegitimate son, called Lord Bastard behind his back by one and all. All of which is to say this is no mere children's tale, but a thoughtful and thought-provoking adventure story. I recommend it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Dreams Thunder on November 6, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I don't often read fantasy novels involving the stereotypical elements (an old kingdom, wizards/mages, elves, etc), but this book was suprisingly good. The author's command of the language crafted a beautiful story, intertwining the lives of two very different characters in a magical kingdom. From beginning to end, it felt more like I was reading a delicate poem or fable than a young adult novel.

Timou's character was not lacking depth; rather, she was not your typical teen heroine struggling with commonplace issues. "The heart of magecraft is stillness" - and this is a stillness, a calm, that follows her throughout the book, even as she struggles to find her mother and unknowingly help save the kingdom.

I found the best part of the story was the lush visuals... the enchanted forest, the icy realm of the Hunter, and a maze of light inside a mirror. Only a gifted mind can think of these things and successfully transfter them onto paper. Overall, I would highly recommend this book to anyone, and I hope we'll see more from Rachel (even more along this storyline, like a story focusing on Deserisien?).
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