Amazon.com: Customer Reviews: The Stolen Lake
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on August 16, 2001
Of the many reasons to read the works of Joan Aiken, two stand out: the irresistable pluckiness of the heroines (especially Dido Twite), and Joan's marvellously detailed alternate history of the planet Earth.
An alternative history is one of the staples of science fiction. What if the Nazis had won World War II? Or what if the South had won the American civil war? These subjects have consumed many a book. But Joan Aiken is unique, in my view, because she has crafted a detailed alternate history of England and America, and has used it as the backdrop, rather than the focus, of the story. Just take it for granted that the Stuarts managed to keep a hold of the English crown. This is just one of many ingredients in Joan Aiken's stories.
But in "The Stolen Lake", Joan's alternative history writing is at its most creative, and that pushes its prominence forward in the book. Rather than fading into history, the ancient kingdom of Arthur and the remains of the Roman Empire stole the boats of the invading Saxons and fled to South America where they founded "Roman" (as opposed to "Latin") America. King Arthur still sleeps, but Queen Guenivere has basically sold her soul to keep herself alive through the 1300 years, awaiting her husband's return. Into this, the young and plucky Dido Twite arrives, and upsets the corrupt regime.
This only scratches the surface of the detail of "The Stolen Lake". Alternative history buffs, fans of King Arthur tales, and fans of the plucky Dido Twite will find plenty to enjoy in this richly detailed tale that is a standout of Joan Aiken's books.
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on August 23, 2000
Dido Twite, the quick-witted (and sharp-tongued) heroine of "Black Hearts in Battersea" and "Nightbirds on Nantucket," is back in this sequel. During the mythical reign of Britain's King George IV, the ship carrying 12-year-old Dido from Nantucket back to England is ordered to stop off in New Cumbria, a mysterious South American nation ruled by a suspiciously ancient queen. Is she, as she claims, the widow of King Arthur? If so, how has she managed to survive the centuries? And why aren't there any girls Dido's age in the entire country? For that matter, why did the midshipman of Dido's vessel take ill as soon as they arrived in port? With the same entertaining blend of Cockney common sense and sheer gutsiness that saw her through her earlier adventures, Dido manages to get to the bottom of things--saving an imprisoned princess and, yes, restoring a "stolen" lake in the bargain. All in all, a fun, fast, rollicking read for youngsters and adults alike.
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on July 26, 2001
Out of all the books in Joan Aiken's Wolves of Willoughby Chase series, this is hands down the best. (OK, I haven't read Dido and Pa, but of the others.) It really has no connection to the other books in the series, and I don't think that it's the greatest read for very young children, however it is the most thrilling, the least predictable, DEFINITELY the most imaginative, and the most mature. It's not as humourous as the others, but it has its moments, and I personally feel that this is the climax of all Dido's adventures before she gets home to meet Simon again. As always, unforgettable characters (Cap'n Hughes, Mr. Holystone, Elen, Bran...) that are always believable, no matter how fantastical the plot is, and well, an all round fascinating, entertaining, frightening, happy-ending, beautiful book. MUCH more adventurous than the previous books in the series.
The King Arthur connection is brilliant, even if Arthur did actually die BEFORE the battle of Dyrham... but those with a basic knowledge of the legends and history will appreciate it, and if you learn more about Arthur etc. your appreciation of the book will only grow richer. Also, make sure to pay attention to the marriage of Latin American and Welsh cultures, which is also brilliantly done (Dafydd Gomez, Juan Jones, José Glendower - should that be Glyndwr?) although it begs the question, if the Celts settled the area in 577, when did the Spanish come? But ignoring that, a BRILLIANT book, definitely read it.
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on August 20, 1997
Aiken's unsinkable Dido Twite is making her way back home when she finds herself entangled in the politics of a Celtic state located in the South American Andes. Taking place somewhere between "Nightbirds on Nantucket" and "The Cookoo Tree," this typically imaginative romp gives us a sleeping King Arthur, magic, and Dido's sunny disposition set in an alternative Victorian era.
A must for Twite fans.
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on November 9, 2000
I have been a huge fan of Joan Aiken ever since I read Nightbirds on Nantucket in grade school. This book departs from her usual British "flavor" but I still found it fascinating. The characters and plot resonate with you long after the book is over. People who are familiar with the King Arthur legend will get the most from this book, as some of the references are hidden or not explicit. One caution -- there are some disturbing images (as there are in all of Aiken's books) and I would not recommend them for young or overly sensitive children.
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on August 23, 2000
Dido Twite, the quick-witted (and sharp-tongued) heroine of "Black Hearts in Battersea" and "Nightbirds on Nantucket," is back in this sequel. During the mythical reign of Britain's King George IV, the ship carrying 12-year-old Dido from Nantucket back to England is ordered to stop off in New Cumbria, a mysterious South American nation ruled by a suspiciously ancient queen. Is she, as she claims, the widow of King Arthur? If so, how has she managed to survive the centuries? And why aren't there any girls Dido's age in the entire country? For that matter, why did the midshipman of Dido's vessel take ill as soon as they arrived in port? With the same entertaining blend of Cockney common sense and sheer gutsiness that saw her through her earlier adventures, Dido manages to get to the bottom of things--saving an imprisoned princess and, yes, restoring a "stolen" lake in the bargain. All in all, a fun, fast, rollicking read for youngsters and adults alike.
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on February 1, 2010
I'm not sure what order the Dido books should be read in - they do stand alone, but it's nice to know some background. The mish mash of distorted history and pure fantasy are held together by Dido's good sense and no nonsense approach to adventures. Joan Aitken's coined words are wonderful and continue through the series. This book is good to read aloud or silently. I am reading the series to my daughter and am thoroughly enjoying it!
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Joan Aiken, The Stolen Lake (Houghton Mifflin, 1981)

Aiken's adventures featuring plucky, uppity Dido Twite just get more and more outrageous as we get further into the series, and Dido, who started off in the second book of the series as something of a well-meaning villain, has turned into quite the little heroine. These are wonderful books, and as I've said in previous review of the series, if you didn't read them as a kid (or only read the first, The Wolves of Willoughby Chase), don't let adulthood stop you from discovering them now.

The action begins not long after the third book ends, with Dido steaming for home with a new crew (the old one mysteriously disappeared Alien 3 style while we were between books). While they're on their way, Hughes, the ship's captain, gets an urgent plea from the Queen of New Cumbria, down in Roman America (in the alternate universe we live in, New Cumbria is at the head of the Amazon River, and seems to occupy part of western Brazil and part of eastern Peru). So Dido is forced to make a detour on her long journey home. Dido, Hughes, his steward Mr. Holystone, and a few of the other crew members disembark at Tenby, the only port into New Cumbria, and head for the capitol, Bath Regis. Things start going awry quickly, though...

It's somewhat amusing that it takes us almost three-quarters of the book to actually get to Bath Regis and find out what the queen wants, especially given that the object of all this mystery is the title of the book. Still, you probably won't care much, as Dido and her companions find no end of scrapes to get into on the way, what with savages, evil seamstresses, duplicitous diplomats, ex-pirates who may not be so ex-, a passel of missing kids, aurocs, snakes, piranha, and a mysterious bard all along for the ride. Aiken also takes the opportunity to do a great deal of worldbuilding in this book, as she has various characters relate the history of Roman America as it relates to Britain. It's all quite fun. Another good book in a good series. *** ½
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on June 21, 2014
I am reading this series, even though it is meant for a much younger audience. I think Joan Aikens was a fine author. She certainly had a good imagination. I will continue with my endeavor.
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on January 29, 2011
The book was in wonderful, new condition. One of my favorites! Packaged securely and got here in great time! Very pleased with the purchase and the quality for the price!
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