When a mysterious ring appears on King Bardaric’s hand, the king falls ill and approaches the door of death. Prince Aric is a true-hearted and faithful son, not yet ready to become king of Calidon. He rejoices when an elfin figure calling himself Albaric removes the ring with his magic and saves the king’s life. The prince feels a kinship with the stranger, and an inseparable friendship develops between the two. But when Albaric claims to be Aric’s brother, begotten and forgotten by the king in the timeless realm of faerie land, the newly healed King Bardaric rejects his savior and becomes angry and vengeful. A sequence of adventures follow, with danger lurking when least expected and love and hate snarled into a tangled web throughout the court of Calidon. Aric is pushed to choose between his loyalty to his father and his troth to his friend. In the end, he must decide whether he will trust the trickery of the magic ring when all else seems lost.
This book fascinated me from beginning to end. The plot concept of Alabaric’s origins felt wholly original and yet, at the same time, wholly mythological and ancient. The characters of Aric and Albaric reminded me of Jonathan and David from the Bible, and Albaric even had the detail of being a harper to solidify the comparison. The language was written in an old style reminiscent of Howard Pyle’s books about King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, a style which I happen to enjoy immensely. This book has received many mixed reviews, so it may not be for everyone, but I found it wondrous, gripping, and thought-provoking.