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The Iron Ring Paperback – May 24, 1999
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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.
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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Excellent, memorable characters and scenes, great use of foreshadowing throughout. The setting in India allows for some wonderful animal companions, all of whom have their own heroic characters to develop.
Great, great book for boys. This is a coming of age novel they will never forget.
Too bad about the cheesy new cover -- I read this with an older, more interesting cover with an India-looking illustration that shows all the animals in the story.
Like many adventure stories, The Iron Ring establishes the hero and the villain without much ambiguity. However, the book's setting in the birthplace of Buddhism and Hinduism sets the stage for some interesting explorations of truth and illusion as the hero wonders if he is fulfilling his destiny or forsaking reality for a dream. Furthermore, the young king gains a stronger understanding and respect for the lives of those outside the life of his small kingdom, as his perception of the world around him grows. If you demand historical accuracy and drink your philosophy strong, this book is not for you. But if you're looking for a good straight-up adventure story, Lloyd Alexander is your man.
I recommended it for young readers!
Although i'm 26 and am enjoying it as well.
Some concepts seem elementary (being a children's book), but the Morals are spot on!
Known for exploring worldwide folklore, Alexander takes to the world of India for this. He explores mystical gods and makes a wonderful and powerful social commentary on the caste system.
It's the usual journey of growth and discovery, but that is always a great journey. I cry every time I read this, it touches me so.
Excellent piece from the awesome Lloyd Alexander.
What kind of ridiculousness am I talking about? Well, first off, King Tamar's challenged to a game of dice by a foreign ruler whose characterization screams bad-guy, and he plays anyway. And doesn't get suspicious when he wins over and over again- only to lose the last round, ending up with no winnings and his soul sold to the creepy foreign guy, who vanishes without a trace. It would be easy to ignore the debt, but Tamar has a warrior's code to live up to, and so he will or die in the attempt. So he sets off with his sage, Rajaswami, to keep his word. Along the way, though, Tamar meets up with a lovely, brilliant milkmaid named Mirri, a fallen king named Ashwara who needs help regaining his kingdom, a blunt sage named Adi-Kavi, and a host of fantastic talking animals. Nearly all of them think Tamar should give up his fool quest - or at least stop being so pigheaded about the so-called warrior's code - and Tamar's got to make a very important decision on what he wants his fate to be.
And yeah, pigheaded's the right word for Tamar. I wanted to slap him every other page at the beginning (along with that Rajaswami for encouraging him), but he evolves into a rational, moral person by the end of the book. Through the other characters, Alexander does a great job of calling both traditional hero-questing values and the complex Indian caste system into question. The really amazing thing is that he does it without badmouthing anyone who enforced it. Mirri's in love with Tamar, but she's also one of his harshest critics, helping cancel out the love-at-first-sight aspect of the novel. Ashwara, Tamar's role model, managed to both follow his rules and consider the fact that they might be wrong. Even the animals and other human travelers are forced to change their philosophies a time or two.
Completely aside from the moral stuff, this story's just well done. Mirri, Hashkat the monkey, and Adi-Kavi the sage all had such funny lines I stopped trying to count them. The plot's great, too; Alexander weaves a superb tapestry, and I was hard-pressed to find a loose thread hanging anywhere, even when it came to little details that most readers wouldn't even remember. I challenge all you out there reading this to find one- and if you do, feel free to mark this review down into oblivion. Anything that'll get you to give Lloyd Alexander a shot.