Curt Benjamin,
The Prince of Dreams
(DAW, 2002)

Curt Benjamin continues the saga of the young king Llesho in The Prince of Dreams.

Llesho now has a new quest to add to his charges made by his former adviser, Lleck. In addition to reuniting his brothers and reclaiming the Thebin throne, he must restore the lost necklace of black pearls to the Great Goddess and open the gates of heaven.

Llesho's journey brings him to a reunion with yet another brother, Balar, which is cut short by a Harnish raid. Balar abducts Llesho, taking him to Ahikenbad where another brother, Lluka, awaits them. The rest of the party of Emperor Shou, Master Den, Lling, Hmishi, Llesho's brother Adar and the healer Carina are prisoners of the Harn, and most specifically, prisoners of Tsu-tan, the witch finder from Pearl Island. Tsu-tan is taking them to Llesho's nemesis, Master Markko.

Llesho's time among the dreamers of Ahkengad gives him more insight into his journey, although his presence brings about near devastation. He leaves the dreamers in pursuit of Tsu-tan, determined to free his friends -- even if it means traveling into the Harnlands.

Benjamin sustains the action well in this book, no easy task when the final action is ahead in another volume. He uses the space to develop more about Llesho and to introduce the reader in the subtleties and intricacies of Harnish culture. Instead of allowing the Harn to remain two-dimensional, brutal thugs, Benjamin demonstrates the diversity and development of the Harnish people. As Llesho comes to learn, they are a people with a rich culture and heritage whose allegiances are not uniformly with Master Markko.

Llesho also grows as an individual and as a future king, learning the responsibilities of his decisions. He undergoes rigorous training to master his powers and must learn how to husband them. He must also contend with his brothers' tendency to treat him like a child.

There is plenty of drama, tension and anguish but Benjamin leavens his tale with a healthy dose of humor, largely through the characterizations.

The Prince of Dreams is of necessity a bit more static than The Prince of Shadows, but it delves more deeply into development of both characters and plot and leaves readers waiting impatiently for the next book.

- Rambles
written by Donna Scanlon
published 25 January 2003

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