Judith Tarr,
His Majesty's Elephant
(Yolen, 1993)

Judith Tarr has written an exotic and unusual fantasy in His Majesty's Elephant. The plot centers around one of Charlemagne's daughters, Rowan; the new elephant, Abul Abbas, given to Charlemagne; the elephant's caretaker, Kerrec; and a talisman supposedly containing a splinter of wood from Christ's crucifix.

When the talisman falls into the wrong hands, Charlemagne and his empire are threatened. A reluctant Rowan must recognize the magical powers given to her from her witch mother and combine them with Kerrec's and Abul Abbas' to save the kingdom from destruction.

It's quite an entertaining little fantasy with an intriguing backdrop and engaging characters. The interaction between Rowan and Kerrec is particularly amusing. However, it is on the slight side; one wishes Tarr had put a bit more detail into the setting and clarified the climactic magical battle. Nevertheless, it's a definite contrast to the all-too-common generic sword-and-sorcery tales pervading the shelves; recommended for fans of YA fantasy, history or elephants.

by Jennifer Mo
11 February 2006

Buy it from Amazon.com.