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A Princess of Roumania Hardcover – June 23, 2005

3.5 out of 5 stars 32 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Sharp characterization and an unusual historical backdrop distinguish Park's charming leadoff to an intricate new fantasy series. In an alternate 18th-century world where England's been swamped by a tidal wave, America teems with blond savages and "Roumania" and Germany battle for European domination, a magic book concocted by conjuress Aegypta Schenck sends young Miranda Popescu, the "white tyger" descendant of ancient royalty and Roumania's hope of freedom from "black tyranny," to Massachusetts to escape the fiendish Baroness Nicola Ceausescu and the heinous elector of Ratisbon. With her best friend, Andromeda (turned magically into first a yellow dog and later a charismatic male Roumanian courtier), and her loyal teenage admirer, Peter ("really" the son of Roumania's bravest warrior), Miranda makes hard choices to start fulfilling her destiny. Park (Celestis, etc.) leaves some tantalizing loose ends, while the wily baroness and the necromancing elector promise dashing adventure and delicious heartbreak ahead. Blurbs from Ursula K. Le Guin and John Crowley testify to the novel's high quality.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine

"The world is in two places," says Miranda’s The Essential History. "One false and one real." You guessed it: we’re in the fake one. In his first of a planned series, Park borrows the idea of alternate worlds from J. K. Rowling, Philip Pullman, and even L. Frank Baum—a trick tried and true. Not surprisingly, certain complications thwart Miranda’s attempt to claim her rightful place in the "real" world. Despite Park’s generic theme, he draws complex characters (even as Miranda’s friends transform into new roles) and convincing political ploys. The tale stalls a bit when Park ventures deep into 18th-century life, but fans will anxiously await the sequel, The Tourmaline, due out next year.

Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.


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Product Details

  • Series: A Princess of Roumania (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; 1st edition (August 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765310961
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765310965
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,054,000 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A. Case on July 12, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This novel opens in a real place in the present (the quiet, rural college town of Williamstown, Massachusetts), but its main characters, three high school students, soon find themselves transported to an alternate world, in which Roumania is the heir to the Roman Empire, Christianity is an obscure fringe cult, and magic is a force of nature--not fully understood by those who wield it, and rife with unexpected consequences. The three teenagers begin to discover that they themselves have histories and identities in this world, ones very different from the selves they believe themselves to be. Miranda, the central character, who was adopted as an infant from a (this worldly) Romanian orphanage, turns out to be the heir to the throne in this other Roumania. The center of a passionate and violent power struggle, she had been sent by her powerful aunt to a magical refuge that is our world. Her companions, born and raised in Williamstown, carry the spirits of two faithful and resourceful military officers sent along to guard the princess. This is not Harry-Potter- style cookbook magic: its transformations produce errors and slippages no one expects, and its effects can be altered, but never quite undone,. The central characters find themselves between identities, or elsewhere altogether-- Miranda's best friend Andromeda, a popular high school Queen Bee at home, was originally a handsome young officer named Sasha Prochenko, but on her return, to everyone's puzzlement, takes the form of a yellow dog. Paul Park has conjured a vivid and strange world full of complex power struggles and larger-than-life personalities, but also one with the messiness, ambivalence and uncertainties of real life. By the way, the book has next to nothing to do with the real Romania. "Roumanian" characters in the novel run the full gamut from faithful heros to sinister plotters, as they would in any adventure story. Readers anxious about Eastern European stereotypes should read the novel before judging it!
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Format: Hardcover
Paul Park's new novel, the first in a trilogy, is an astounding work. When I turned the last page, I was stunned by the thought of how far the story had taken me in just 368 pages.

What is particularly remarkable is how Park takes some very familiar tropes (an adopted child from a magical world, tokens that are clues to her identity, warring conjurers) and shines them to such lustre that they seem not just fresh but entirely new.

The author's greatest feat is the way in which all of the characters appear as rich and interesting people -- even those who occupy the positions of villians. Baroness Ceausescu is identified by the narrative early on as "evil" yet the story itself resists such easy definitions. She has emerged, by the end, as a complex and vital character.

Much of the latter half of this wonderful novel takes place in a sort of alternate Europe and concerns a conflict between Roumania and Germany. In this conflict, a mess of betrayals, plots and diplomacy, there are also no stock villains.

All this, and I haven't even talked about about the three protaginists of the story. Many writers who do not normally write for young audiences fail to get the voices and emotions of teenage characters correct, but not Paul Park. As the lives of Miranda, Peter and Andromeda get more and more complicated by their translation into the magical world of the story, their personalities stay grounded and believable. Even when Peter and Andromeda begin to manifest new (perhaps "true") personalities as the Chevalier Pieter de Graz and war hero Sacha Prochenko, they still ring true as real teens in unreal situations.

However, I don't mean to suggest that this is solely a teen novel. It's dark and the politics are complex.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I was extremely excited to sink into this book after spotting its striking cover at the bookstore, opening it up, and seeing all the praise the critics heaped on it.

After reading it, I can see what the critics loved about it, I suppose. It does exude a "different" sort of atmosphere - nothing is ever exactly as you'd expect. And yet...it is. There were many moments and aspects of the story that reminded me of other books I'd read, but it still had an atmosphere all its own. Here's a quick description, and really illustrates what I mean:

A teenager is brought to another fantasy world...based upon on our world, where England was overcome by a tidal wave and other countries - Germany - are dominant. She discovers she's the princess of an enslaved country...a POLITICALLY enslaved country - there's no true "villains" here, no smoke and chains, and only the girl and her family are truly in danger. Two friends from her own world came to this new world with her - a boy whose presence leads to many Tense Kiss-Me-Or-Not moments...but most often "not" because of a surprising...THING about one of his hands. Her other friend is a girl...who also goes through a surprising change that I won't spoil. Her allies in this new world are loyal to her aunt and family...and of the two, one doesn't last past one chapter, and the other is a coward, plain and simple. The main "villain" in the story is a woman who does some truly evil things...and cries about them afterward, and feeds herself anger to overwhelm any compassion she feels for her "victims."

Narration-wise, it was refreshingly adult for a teenage fantasy book.
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