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The Winter Prince Mass Market Paperback – April 14, 2003

4.4 out of 5 stars 41 customer reviews
Book 1 of 5 in the Lion Hunters Series

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 6 Up-Absorbing reading for those who enjoy Arthurian legends. As the story opens, Medraut, the High King's eldest son, is returning to Artos's court, Camlan, after a six-year absence. There he finds Lleu, his frail, sickly half-brother, dying of an illness, and devotes himself to healing him. Born of incest between Artos and his sister Morgause, Medraut can never be High King, although he is outwardly more capable than Lleu. His intense love for his brother is mixed with extreme envy. When the evil Morgause comes to Camlan with her four younger sons, she brings with her a desire to control Lleu. Exploiting Medraut's envy, insecurity, and shame, and using her enchantress's power, she enlists his help. A journey of betrayal, masked as a hunting trip, becomes a time of cruelty, fear, and passion for the half brothers, ending in an intense battle of wills between them. Medraut admits his love for Lleu, who has found the inner strength he needs, and realizes that he can choose not to be bound to his mother's will. The tension of this last section is strongly involving and convincing. The characterizations are complex and finely drawn, as are the familial relationships. Written as if Medraut is telling the story to Morgause, his love-hate feelings for her are powerfully conveyed. A strong debut for a new novelist, and a story well worth reading.
Jane Gardner Connor, South Carolina State Library, Columbia
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Gr. 7-12. Fantasy lovers and devotees of Arthurian legends will enjoy Wein's challenging but engrossing novel, which probes the soul of Mordred (or Medraut as Wein names him), the illegitimate son of Artos (presumably Arthur) and Artos' half-sister Morgause. In Wein's sympathetic hands, Medraut is a skillful, well-traveled healer who loves his half-brother Lleu, the legitimate heir to Artos' kingdom. She also portrays Medraut as conflicted enough to succumb to the wiles of Morgause (knowing full well of her cruelty) and as capable of sacrificing Lleu for revenge. Medraut is jealous of Lleu's blameless birthright and the power Lleu wields so thoughtlessly, and he yearns not only for Artos' approval, but also for recognition that he is not responsible for the shame of his parentage. In a gripping climax, both Lleu and Medraut face the demons that haunt them and emerge knowing they will never fear each other again. Chris Sherman --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
  • Mass Market Paperback: 202 pages
  • Publisher: Firebird/ Penguin Putnam (April 14, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142500143
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142500149
  • Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 6.4 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,341,741 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is an amazing, gorgeous little gem of a book, with surprisingly complex characters and shades of moral ambiguity for a YA book (or a lot of adult novels, for that matter) -- which is not to say I don't think YA books can be complicated, but they rarely are in this way.

It's a quick read, and compelling. Medraut, the illegitimate son of Artos the king, returns from his travels in Africa and elsewhere to watch over his younger half-brother, Lleu. Medraut doesn't know if he loves or hates Lleu, and matters are complicated by his relationship with his mother/aunt Morgause. Morgause here is...more of a piece of work than usual, even, possibly the most disturbing literary representation of her that I've ever read -- it's a testament to Wein's writing skills that I even sympathized a little with her at one point.

Goewin, Lleu's twin sister, also warrants a mention -- her interaction with Medraut in particular is fascinating.

In fact, one of the things I liked the most was how even when he was managing to be loyal and good, Medraut's darker qualities weren't magically gone, merely held at bay. I also found Medraut's refusal to lie, ever, interesting.

One of the most unique, beautiful, and compelling takes on the Arthurian legends I've read in a long time. I wholeheartedly recommend it. It's unfortunate that it's going out of print again. I would suggest snapping up a copy for yourself and at least one copy to loan out.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
"The Winter Prince" is a beautiful, haunting, vivid book. I could go on at length with complimentary adjectives, but instead, a few things that make it stand out:
The relationships. I read the last few chapter with my heart actually pounding; the book has enough tension that it would need an army of masseuses (or a fascinating climactic scene) to smooth out the wrinkles.
The main character. Every once in a while I come across a character who seems startlingly, refreshingly unique. Sulien of Jo Walton's THE KING'S PEACE and THE KING'S NAME was one, and Medraut is another.
The voice. THE WINTER PRINCE is beautifully written, but more interesting, to me, is the thread of second person that runs through it, from Medraut to Morgause. I'm a sucker for interesting uses of second person, and this one fits the story perfectly.
This book made me care about its characters, and then it made me glad I cared. I can't think of any higher recommendation.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
"'Have you ever loved anything?'

'Yes. Yes. All the wrong things. The hunt, and darkness, and winter, and you, Godmother.'"
This is a book I wish I had written.

It is a first novel, and cool and sharp and glittering, like a heavy, hanging icicle. It is very dark, with just enough hints of the backstory to let you fill the rest in for yourself.

It is an Arthurian retelling, focused on Mordred, in a version in which Arthur has legitimate heirs.

The narrator, Medraut, is complicated and brave and oh-so-fallible, like his siblings and father, the other central characters. He addresses his narration to his mother-and-aunt Morgause, who is terrifying- sadistic and false and capable of cutting to the bone.

The ending departed slightly from the subtlety of the rest of the book, spelling out the epiphany, but that's a minor complaint. The voice is intense, deliberate, engrossing.

The Winter Prince is a short read, just over 200 pages, and a brilliant one. There are sequels, but they branch out further from the Arthurian setting and don't seem as good. This one stands alone, and is a masterpiece.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a little bit of a Retro Review for me, although not entirely. I just about burst with glee when I saw that THE WINTER PRINCE and A COALITION OF LIONS were back in print. Two reasons for this: 1) I needed a copy of THE WINTER PRINCE for my own and 2) Now I can spread the love more easily! If the last three books come back into print that will just be the icing on the cake. (Warning: do not read the fourth book until you have the fifth book handy.)

Nowadays Elizabeth Wein is well known as the author of smash hit CODE NAME VERITY. But once upon a time she was Elizabeth E. Wein, debut author of an Arthurian retelling called THE WINTER PRINCE. Artos has three children. Medraut, the oldest, is a illegitimate and cannot inherit. Lleu, the prince, is beautiful and fragile and talented and spoiled. Goewin, his twin, will not inherit either since she is a woman. The children love each other, but there's also a great deal of resentment and hurt feelings between them.

THE WINTER PRINCE is written like a letter from Medraut to his aunt and mother, Morgause. She's a cruel woman with a terrible hold on her sons, but at the same time almost understandable as a woman trying to grasp all the power a woman can have. Medraut perhaps loves and hates her even more than her loves and hates Lleu.

There isn't much of a plot to THE WINTER PRINCE. It's a book about a relationship, and two people coming to terms with who they are. It's wonderfully written, Wein's prose lending the book a fittingly seductive and sharp beauty. It's a little messy, just like it's protagonist, and swiftly covers a great deal of time. It's one of those books that sticks in your mind long after you read it, and comes back to you immediately once you read the first sentence again.
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