The Dragon Throne

Written by Michael Cadnum
Review by Lisa Ann Verge

The first book in this trilogy—about two crusading squires in the twelfth century—was a National Book Award finalist, and Michael Cadnum has continued his stellar work in this intense, fast-moving, and richly medieval finale. Back from Rome only to be imprisoned by a distrustful King John, young Edmund attains his release through his best friend, Hubert, who acts for him in one-on-one combat. Prince John promptly makes both squires knights: a longed-for accomplishment made bittersweet by the prince’s request for fealty, a request the squires refuse because of their loyalty to his long-crusading brother, King Richard. Escaping England only through the intercession of Queen Eleanor, they guide one of the queen’s ladies to Rome to fulfill her vow of pilgrimage. En route they battle King John’s assassins and a band of alpine bandits, only to arrive in a Rome under siege, the battleground of powerful warring families. There, they save Hubert’s true love, but are imprisoned again. This time, it is Edmund’s sword that will win their freedom, and with it, a chance to return to England victorious and reunited—they hope—with the long-delayed King Richard. Bravo to Michael Cadnum for penning a muscular medieval novel perfect for the GameBoy generation. (Ages 12+)