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Westmark (The Westmark Trilogy) Mass Market Paperback – January 14, 2002

4.5 out of 5 stars 40 customer reviews
Book 1 of 3 in the Westmark Series

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Editorial Reviews


"The wisdom of this book lies in its difficult solution: Good does not triumph over evil simply because it is good... Lloyd Alexander does not answer questions; he raises them... He keeps his adventures spinning and in the end we are happy in how it all turns out." —The New York Times

"As always, Alexander peoples his tale with a marvelous cast of individuals, and weaves an intricate story of high adventure that climaxes in a superbly conceived conclusion, which... is reached through carefully built tension and subtly added comic relief." —Booklist, starred review

From the Publisher

Falling in with a roguish doctor, his dwarf attendant and an urchin girl, Theo embarks on an unforgettable adventure in the kingdom of Westmark.

An American Book Award, An ALA Best of the Best Books for Young Adults, A School Library Journal Best Book of the Year. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 690 (What's this?)
  • Series: The Westmark Trilogy
  • Mass Market Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Firebird (January 14, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141310685
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141310688
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.6 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #158,717 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

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
The Westmark trilogy -- of which this is the first book -- is in many ways a successor to the Prydain novels. Each feature a young impressionable orphan (Theo/Taran) who falls in love with a strong, high-born woman (Mickle/Eilonwy) while learning more about the nature of manhood. While the Prydain novels are completely wonderful, the Westmark trilogy has it own power in its moral depth and complexity. In this sense, it is more challenging that the Prydain novels and perhaps suited to somewhat older readers. The trilogy specifically questions war and violence, their value, and their justification.
Westmark, as the first book of the trilogy, is occasionally light-hearted, featuring some of Alexander's trademark dry wit. Count Las Bombas is particularly hilarious. Theo is occasionally clueless, which makes him seem more human and thus more appealing (to this reader, at least). In the midst of an exciting plot with marvelous twists, however, Alexander raises moral questions without being pedantic. Is Florian's war against the monarchy just? When is violence justified? Is it ever justified? Alexander is not so presumptious that he offers a simple answer; rather, he acknowledges the absence of such easy solutions. There are no easy answers for Theo or the reader in this trilogy -- and that complexity is probably the series' greatest strength. The questions linger long after you finish the last lines of the novel.
This novel is highly recommended for a fairly mature middle reader -- it is both fun and meaningful. The remainder of the Westmark trilogy (The Kestrel, The Beggar Queen) is somewhat darker, but no less enjoyable. END
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
As with his wonderful "Prydain" books, in this trilogy (the present book, followed by "The Kestrel" and "The Beggar Queen") Alexander sets out to entertain us, and if he can enlighten us or provoke us to ponder important questions of responsibility and maturity along the ride, so much the better.
But the entertainment, as always with Alexander, comes first.
Theo, a "printer's devil", naively fails to consider how new regulations set forth by the Chief Minister of Westmark will affect him when, his master being out, he accepts a commission to print handbills for Count Las Bombas (a charming scalawag in the tradition of Fflewdur Fflam, but even more broadly drawn and a rogue to boot).
As quickly as the reader can guess that this might be a Bad Idea, troops have smashed up the shop, and Theo is on the run, along with Las Bombas and Musket the Demon Coachman (am alarmingly competent dwarf who spends most of his life getting Las Bombas out of trouble).
Things are Not Good in Westmark -- the King is terribly ill, the Crown Princess has vanished, and Chief Minister Cabbarus is gaining more and more control and becoming more and more authoritarian.
In the course of his adventures in this book, Theo will meet Florian, a personally gentle and sardonic but politically ruthless intellectual who seeks to put his theories into practise as he leads his "children" to establish an egalitarian Republic.
Also along for the trip is the beggar girl Mickle, who joins Theo, Las Bombas and Musket as they travel the countryside as a medicine show, and with whom Theo discovers he is falling in love before he even realises that love is what he is falling into.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Lloyd Alexander strays from his more popular fantasy adventures into a historical drama, with tinges of political thriller and, of course, a subtle coming-of-age for several characters.
Theo is a "printer's devil," the assistant to a small printer in the fictional country of Westmark; Westmark is becoming increasingly dictatorial, since the mysterious death of the young princess drove the king into depression and illness. Now the power-hungry first minister Cabbarus uses the king as a puppet. None of this is relevent to Theo until soldiers destroy the press, and he becomes a fugitive from the law.
He flees and accompanies Count Las Bombas and Musket, a jolly charlatan and a formidable dwarf. They are rapidly joined by Mickle, a talented street urchin whom Theo develops feelings for. But he can't bear the dishonesty of a charlatan's lifestyle, and so flees into a group of revolutionaries led by the charming Florian. Together, they will have face the treacherous Cabbarus, and the mysteries of the past.
Westmark is a good book, with a plausible set-up, an intriguing hero and supporting characters, and a series of moral questions that are brought up in a thought-provoking manner. Is it acceptable to steal and lie if it will result in something good, or if the person being lied to or robbed is evil himself? Theo wrestles with these questions over the course of the book, and raises them for the readers as well.
The conscientious and endearing hero Theo is surrounded by a colorful cast. There is the bright, mysterious urchin Mickle, pleasantly dishonest Las Bombas, fiery Musket, charming anti-monarchist Florian and his band of loyal "children," the grim Dr. Torrens who only wants to help his king, and the evil plotter Cabbarus.
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