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The Iron Ring Hardcover – May 1, 1997

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This semi-mystical epic adventure draws loosely on the great myths and literature of India. "The imaginative scope of the story and its philosophical complexities will make this an exciting journey for the reader," said PW. Ages 10-14. (July)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From School Library Journal

Grade 5-9. Alexander's latest epic adventure is rooted in the mythology of ancient India. A losing game of chance with a mysterious stranger seems like a dream to young King Tamar, but the iron ring on his finger is a very real token that his life may be forfeit. A journey to the stranger's distant kingdom seems his only chance to discover the truth. Many adventures and diversions crop up along the way as Tamar gains some surprising companions, including a brave and beautiful milkmaid, a cowardly eagle, and a wiley monkey king who used to be a man. The author's flexible style moves smoothly from comedy to tragedy and back again; from battle scenes to ridiculous situations, Alexander never loses the thread. Set within the action are small gems of poetry and folktales. The concept of dharma, or proper conduct, and the rigid caste system deeply affect Tamar's actions. Plot, characters, and setting all have their parts to play, but it is the tension set up among the lively characters and the cultural conventions binding them that create the structure of the story and lead inevitably to its conclusion. This wise and witty adventure can be enjoyed on many levels.?Ruth S. Vose, San Francisco Public Library
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 680L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton Juvenile; 1st edition (May 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0525455973
  • ISBN-13: 978-0525455974
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1.1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,717,436 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Few writers have inspired as much affection and interest among readers young and old as Lloyd Alexander. At one point, however, it seemed unlikely that he would ever be a writer at all. His parents could not afford to send him to college. And so when a Philadelphia bank had an opening for a messenger boy, he went to work there. Finally, having saved some money, he quit and went to a local college. Dissatisfied with not having learned enough to be a writer he left at the end of one term. Adventure, he decided was the best way. The United States had already entered World War II. Convinced that here was a chance for real deeds of derring-do, he joined the army -- and was promptly shipped to Texas where he became, in disheartening succession an artilleryman, a cymbal player in the band, an organist in the post chapel, and a first-aid man. At last, he was assigned to a military intelligence center in Maryland. There he trained as a member of a combat team to be parachuted into France to work with the Resistance. "This, to my intense relief, did not happen," says Alexander. Instead, Alexander and his group sailed to Wales to finish their training. This ancient, rough-hewn country, with its castles, mountains, and its own beautiful language made a tremendous impression on him. But not until years later did he realize he had been given a glimpse of another enchanted kingdom. Alexander was sent to Alsace-Lorraine, the Rhineland, and southern Germany. When the war ended, he was assigned to a counterintelligence unit in Paris. Later he was discharged to attend the University of Paris. While a student he met a beautiful Parisian girl, Janine, and they soon married. Life abroad was fascinating, but eventually Alexander longed for home. The young couple went back to Drexel Hill, near Philadelphia, where Alexander wrote novel after novel which publishers unhesitatingly turned down. To earn his living, he worked as a cartoonist, advertising writer, layout artist, and associate editor for a small magazine. It took seven years of constant rejection before his first novel was at last published. During the next ten years, he wrote for adults. And then he began writing for young people.Doing historical research for Time Cat he discovered material on Welsh mythology. The result was The Book of Three and the other chronicles of Prydain, the imaginary kingdom being something like the enchanted land of Wales. In The Remarkable Journey of Prince Jen Alexander explored yet another fantastic world. Evoking an atmosphere of ancient China, this unique multi-layered novel was critically acclaimed as one of his finest works. Trina Schart Hyman illustrated The Fortune-tellers as a Cameroonian folktale sparkling with vibrant images, keen insight and delicious wit. Most of the books have been written in the form of fantasy. But fantasy, Alexander believes, is merely one of many ways to express attitudes and feelings about real people, real human relationships and problems

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Nic Hayes on October 24, 2000
Format: Paperback
The Iron Ring is all out my favorite book. I used to not like to read do to the fact that in school I am forced to read books that I have no interest in. But one day I picked up a book in the schools Library and read the back. I was immediately hooked so I took it home and started reading. My parents thought something was wrong with me but as Lloyd Alexander put it: "Fantasy is hardly an escape from reality. It's a way of understanding it." Now I love to read again and I am always waiting for more Alexander books to pick up. If you don't like to read I suggest you pick up this book and you will love it.
Thank you Lloyd for inspiring me and making reading fun.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 10, 2000
Format: Paperback
This was a GREAT BOOK which I would recommend to anyone who Loves to read books by Lloyd Alexander. This book was exciting. It had it: war, treachery, magic, and of course love. This book was not too graphic or gory in its battle scenes and was just right in its magic parts which even included a talking monkey. Of course Lloyd Alexander spiced it up with a surprise ending. I would highly RECOMMEND this book! It is both very funny and very exciting.If you like Lloyd Alexander, this book is definitly for you. If you want to be sitting down for a while, get this book and find somewhere comfy to read because you won't be able to put it down.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By R. M. Fisher TOP 500 REVIEWER on June 24, 2005
Format: Paperback
The trademark feature of Lloyd Alexander's storytelling is to choose a cultural background and weave his own story into the already existing mythology; his most famous example of this is of course "The Chronicles of Prydain", in which his own story and characters were melded with the myths and legends of Wales (as found in "The Mabinogian"). "The Iron Ring" gets a similar treatment, as worked into the story are elements of "The Mahabharata" and "The Ramayana", India's great national epics.

Tamar is the young king of a small kingdom, who is doing a rather successful job at ruling under the guidance of his loyal wise-man Rajaswami and military leader Darshan until one day he foolishly plays and looses a game of chance to the mysterious king Jaya. Waking the next morning, he finds that he has bet his life away and as proof of his bondage is an iron ring upon his finger. But was it a dream or not? Determined to find out, Tamar leaves his kingdom for Jaya's mountain city of Mahapura in the hopes of saving his honour and keeping his dharma intact.

On the way however, he becomes severely sidetracked. Meetings with monkey kings and wrestling with giant serpents finally leads to him to swearing his allegiance to King Aswara, a noble lord whose city has been usurped by his murderous cousin Nahusha. Along with his allies (which now include a complaining eagle, a beautiful milk-maid and an odd curiosity-seeker who has lived for the past year in an ant hill), Tamar sets his will against Nahusha. Needless to say, he learns many important lessons on the way, concerning life, death and love, and most importantly on the infamous Indian caste system that ranks all people from the highest brahamas to the "Untouchables"; the chandalas.
Read more ›
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By "kandladin" on March 17, 2001
Format: Paperback
To say the least, this book is excellent, highly original, with fascinating characters. Though it's quite a long book, both times I've read it I've finished it in twenty-four hours or less. Lloyd Alexander has been one of my favorite authors for quite a while, so I was expecting quite a bit from this book, and I was not dissapointed. Combining the rich undertones of Indian mythology with usual fantasy flair, Lloyd Alexander really outdid himself here. In it, the young king Tamar sets out to find the mysterious King Jaya, to whom he inadvertantly pledged his life. Along the way, he gains a very colorful band of companions who include a bad tempered bird, a kind elephant, one of his old teachers, a mischevous monkey, plus a beautiful peasant girl Tamar falls instantly in love with. As they head on their journey it becomes apparant that it is largely a journey of self discovery as well, as each character has immense character development. One thing that annoyed me about this book was that it was not up to the authors usual standards of having plenty of strong female characters. (I will never forget Eilonwy, who made the intire Prydain chronicles for me) The only real main character who was even female was Mirri, and while she was clever and all, she wasn't that cool, and didn't even have a real part in the story except to be Tamar's love interest and sit and look pretty. I also felt that her relationship to Tamar was fairly groundless as well, especially at first. Sure, towards the end Tamar learns to love her for real reasons too, which is part of his development, but the intire basis of his feelings for her revolve around looks. Besides that though, this book was wonderful, and kept me rivited to it right to the end. (which isn't at all what you'd expect.Read more ›
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on October 6, 2003
Format: Paperback
With a hero like King Arthur it's no wonder Lloyd Alexander writes about a young king's adventures. The Iron Ring is one of the many beautifully written stories.
Tamar, the young king of Sundari, journeys to many places. Tamar faces death and wonder around every corner. When he plays a game like dice, he does not know how far the stakes will go. He loses his caste and honor, while realizing the world sees a lot of violence and he is just as important as anybody else. He learned much about the lives of other creatures. This is a good story about a king who learns much.
This is an outstandingly written novel. I liked every part of the story. There is heart pounding adventure and romance in it. When Tamar is hit in the head with a mace your heart is pounding. Did he live? Did he fulfill his task? It's also full of romance. Does Mirri the gopi, a cow maiden, choose Tamar. It's also full of action; there are many battle scenes. Out of ten this would definitely be a ten plus. I would recommend this book to any body.
Overall, the life of a young king and his adventures are very attention-grabbing. This is a book that all would enjoy.
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