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The Kestrel (The Westmark Trilogy) Mass Market Paperback – June 10, 2002


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 3 and up
  • Series: The Westmark Trilogy
  • Mass Market Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Firebird; Reissue edition (June 10, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141310693
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141310695
  • Product Dimensions: 4.3 x 0.7 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #152,136 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

4.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Oddsfish VINE VOICE on July 25, 2001
Format: Paperback
In the first book of the Westmark Trilogy, Theo asks, "Even if the cause (of war) is good, what does it do to the people who stand against it? And the people who follow it?" The answer to those questions is The Kestrel. Using a panorama of characters, Alexander shows war from all perspectives: from the leaders,' from the bystanders,' and from the soldiers.' Alexander draws on his own experiences of World War II to give the reader (of any age) insight into the moral complexities of war.
The main character is once again Theo. When Westmark is attacked by neighboring Regia, Theo is forced with a dilemma. Should he serve his love (Mickle) or should he serve his country? Eventually, Theo is compelled to join fighting along with Florian's forces because of a memory of his cowardice at the battle of Nierkeeping in "Westmark." Fighting a guerrilla-style war under the command of Justin, Theo begins to be baptised by fire. He sees comrade after comrade killed. He becomes filled with hatred for the enemy army. Eventually, he is given command and becomes Colonel Kestrel, a semblance of Theo who commits unspeakable acts in the name of war.
Alexander studies the morals of war through his characters. The reader is forced to examine psychological aspects of war in Theo. War is also shown through a leader's eyes with the examinations of Mickle, Theo, Justin, and Florian. The devastating effect of war on the countryside is shown from following Sparrow and Weasel.
The Kestrel is a brilliant continuation of the series. The plot is magnificent, and it has so much depth. The characterizations are excellent, and the issues studied are compelling. The Westmark Trilogy is a great piece of young adult literature. I've read some of the great war novels like All Quiet on the Western Front and The Red Badge of Courage, but the trilogy is better written and with more depth. Everyone really should read these excellent novels.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Priscilla Stafford on May 11, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The second book of the Westmark Trilogy, the adventures of Westmark continues in "The Kestrel". Theo is now traveling through Westmark to learn more about the country. He and Mickle, now known as Princess Augusta, are hoping to be married after he returns. But suddenly and without warning, Westmark is thrown into turmoil as the neighboring country of Regia has declared war on Westmark. Theo is once again forced into making a hard decision, will he stay in the sidelines or fight for his country? Eventually, he joins under the command of Florian and his people to fight a guerrilla war against the troops of Regia. As he sees brave and honorable men die one by one, Theo finds himself changing into a merciless commander and a stranger to himself...
For those familiar with Lloyd Alexander's award winning series, "The Prydain Chronicles", I can honestly and truly recommend this other series written by the 'grand master of fantasy'. A bit more serious with dark overtones, "The Westmark Trilogy" deals with realistic events that can almost convince you that the series is based on true historical events. Through the series you will be given a chance to explore the characters as they struggle with forces beyond their control. Lloyd Alexander gives a realistically accurate study of human nature and psychology of war. I must say, after reading this book, I was left in thoughtful silence, musing over what I had just finished reading. It is not very often we Young Adults are given books which leaves you in a state of contemplation
As I said, I can highly recommend the thrilling and psychologically filling "Westmark Trilogy". Best to read in order. But the faint-hearted be warned, this book and the next one in the series are somewhat violent and gritty since the main theme is about war. But nothing too bad to turn away lovers of a good series! Pick these series up!
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Fairportfan on July 20, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
While "Westmark" (the previous book) and "The Beggar Queen" (the final book in this trilogy) are excellent books, this is the best, because -- well, because it's the one that has the power to hurt the most as you see what characters you care for are forced into by circumstance, the twists of fate and their own sense of duty.
Former Chief Minister Cabbarus, forced into exile in "Westmark" plots with the uncle of the King of neighbouring Regia to invade Westmark and re-establish a "proper" society. Theo wanders the country, trying to get a grip on how he feels about the thought of Mickle, the street urchin he fell in love with in "Westmark" becoming Queen... with himself intended as Prince Consort.
When the invasion begins, Mickle finds herself forced to become a military commander, and Theo finds himself among Florian's "children" again, fighting the Regians as an irregular, eventually rising to the rank of colonel among Florian's forces.
And Alexamder takes the chance -- without seeming preachy or heavy-handed -- to present us with just a bit (PG13 rating or so) of the horror of war and what it does to even good people.
Because "Colonel Kestrel", the brilliant and ruthless revolutionary/guerrilla leader is, also, the gentle Theo, who has never believed in violence as a solution to anything.
Someone has said, more or less, that Alexander is here presenting a parable on the uses and effects of violence, in causes good and not-so-good. He proposes (by example) the question "When -- if ever -- is violence justified in a 'good cause'?", and proceeds to show us (again by example) the answers to that question arrived at by various people of greater or lesser good-will.
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