For Theo, the adventure begins when he gets shot. Fortunately for him, he attracts not only assassins but friends, and, after the latter rescues Theo from the former, the young Prince Consort sets out to discover who would want him dead. Trouble is brewing, and Theo can smell it—trouble not only for himself, but also for the entire kingdom. Mickle, the Beggar Queen, senses the trouble as well, and when she determines to seek it out, she finds herself right in the middle of it. Surprised by an attack from the neighboring country of Regia, and undermined by a treacherous plot from inside Westmark itself, the nation of Westmark scrambles to defend its borders.
The Rise of the Kestrel
At the center of the conflict is Florian, who has no interest in upholding the Westmark monarchy (an institution he opposes) but who also has no intention of allowing a Regian monarchy to replace a Westmark one. His guerilla warriors fight under bird-themed code names: Peregrine, Shrike, Lapwing, Raven, Phoenix, and the infamous Kestrel.
‘There’s a hawk.” Justin pointed beyond the ridge. High above, against the cloudless blue, the bird seemed to hang motionless.
Kestrel frightens Theo, more than anyone has ever frightened him. As Theo’s part in the war deepens, he eventually must ask himself: Is the real enemy the Regians? Or Kestrel?
Review of The Kestrel
The dialogue is, perhaps, some of the most witty and entertaining that I have ever read.
“Now, Erzcour,” said Baron Montmollin, “you look quite the savage.”
The humor of the dialogue and the quick-paced action scenes are well-played, for the tone of the story darkens as it continues. The questions that Theo asks in the first book, Westmark, continue to arise in this second installment. What is honor? Are people basically good, or do they corrupt too easily? Do one’s good intentions justify dubious acts? Are the greatest dangers external—or internal?
Readers of The Kestrel will continue to digest the implications of the story long after the details have faded from their memories. And perhaps, as I did, they will see more of Theo in themselves than they expected.
Note: Intense violence is briefly shown, and more is alluded to. A few of the characters use profanities like d--- and h---.
The Westmark Trilogy by Lloyd Alexander