Book Review: The Kingdom of the Sun and Moon by Lowell H. Press

The Kingdom of the Sun and Moon

The Kingdom of the Sun and Moon by Lowell H. Press
Published: September 30, 2014 by Parkers Mill Publishing
Series: N/A
Other work(s): N/A
Genres: Fantasy, Childrens, Historical Fiction
Pages: 297
Rating: 4.5/5, PG

The König is a tyrant. His subjects are starving. And all-out war is fast approaching. Will a pair of young, courageous brothers save their kingdom?

When an emissary sent by the König himself stops by the remote mouse colony of Long Meadow, the peaceful life Sommer and Nesbit have shared is turned upside down—and the brothers are catapulted into separate death-defying adventures. Sommer, levelheaded and clever, is ordered to the palace to join the König’s illustrious Eagle Guard as it prepares to face a full-scale invasion by the nefarious Emperor Wolfsmilch and his army of a hundred thousand forest mice. Meanwhile, the small but spirited Nesbit is banished to the Forest of Lost Life for insulting the König, and must dodge hungry predators at every turn.

The brothers struggle to reunite and defy the oppressors who threaten everyone and everything they have ever known and loved. But time is quickly running out for both of them—and the fate of the kingdom hinges on one last, daring mission.

Set against the magnificent backdrop of Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna, Austria, The Kingdom of the Sun and Moon is an action-packed adventure story for young readers and adults alike.

The Kingdom of the Sun and Moon is an intriguing tale primarily surrounding the adventures and brave acts of two young mice, brothers Sommer and Nesbit of the Long Meadow colony. Through a series of unusual events, the brothers’ paths divide then, ultimately, merge as the secrets of their kingdom are slowly revealed.

Recruited to join the Eagle Guard, an elite force in the König’s army, Sommer faces a doomed mission–to retrieve the Sacred Goldenessen of Sun and Moon–and almost certain death. Meanwhile, having made an unfortunate remark about the König, Nesbit embarks on an equally perilous flight from the König’s ruthless forces while evading vicious predators at every turn. Yet, apart and together, the brothers must succeed if their kingdom is to survive their harsh König’s rule and see a brighter future.

The Kingdom of the Sun and Moon is a pleasurable read, one I would definitely consider rereading it again. Press is an excellent storyteller. For the most part, the pacing is appropriate–picking up during the action scenes, which come pretty often. With one exception. The lore about the storyteller (the Wandererzähler), revealed toward the beginning of the book, is a little drawn out and could benefit from a good trim. As is, it slightly disrupts the flow of the story.

The twists and turns in the main plot (and its accompanying subplots) kept it very engaging. At times, I was only one step ahead of where the story would take me next. (That’s what I get for thinking the plot of a children’s story would be more obvious and uncomplicated. ^_^)

Like the plot, the characters are very well constructed. I couldn’t help appreciating the little nuances that added to the depiction of the characters (like the Konig’s tendency to groom himself almost constantly)–making them more animated, more real. We are repeatedly made aware of how perceptions of characters are all too often in conflict with each other–how they view themselves vs. how one group sees them vs. how another group sees them, and so on–which is so true to life. And in no way is that more true than for Nesbit who is believed to possess special powers (a hexenmeister), though he sees himself in a harsher, less forgiving light.

I’ll admit my attachment to Sommer and Nesbit was not immediate. I was a little frustrated with Nesbit for not having more self control, and with Sommer for being so willing to believe his superiors and follow them without question. But, these character flaws are necessary for the story’s progress and are realistic for youths at their ages. And they don’t last long. Besides, they make up for these faults with cleverness and other positive attributes that further develop and prove useful as the story advances.

What also bears mentioning is the setting. Late 18th-early 19th century.  Schönbrunn Palace and gardens in Vienna, Austria. Press never misses an opportunity to remind you of where these fantastical events are taking place, immerse you in the surroundings. Whether with character names and titles (which you should expect), German terms and foods (don’t worry…there’s a glossary), or beautiful descriptions of the palace grounds (as well as a map derived from Franz Boos’s 18th century illustration, in case you get lost). The prose, however, is uncomplicated by the language of the period, making it easier for younger audiences to follow.

Overall, I think it’s a great book. The way the story concluded was satisfying, albeit a little sad. I miss Sommer, Nesbit, and their friends already. I would absolutely recommend this book to lovers of children’s fiction of all ages.*

*There is some violence and death that might not be appropriate for very young audiences. But even Disney movies have that soooo…use your own discretion.

*I received a free copy of The Kingdom of the Sun and Moon from Goodreads First Reads.*

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