So rarely do we have the time to remove our thoughts from ourselves and society enough to read what is considered a children’s book. It doesn’t really conform with convention. However, deep into lockdown seems the ideal time, escape, adventure, fantasy and the notion of good overcoming all evil is precisely what is needed. And Tonke Dragt’s The Letter For The King incorporates all of that.
The rule-book says that a young man who is to be knighted by King Dagonaut must pass the eve of the grand ceremony in silent vigil. However, Young Tiuri, son of the famous Tiuri the Valiant, breaks the rules – he opens the door to a stranger, who begs him to deliver a secret letter to the Black Knight with the White Shield. The letter is destined for the ruler of the neighbouring realm, King Unauwen, and concerns a matter of paramount significance.
Tiuri accepts his dangerous mission, more earnest and noble than you would expect of most sixteen year olds. However, when he arrives at the appointed place deep in the forest, he finds the Knight dying, having been murdered by the vicious Red Riders. As he races to deliver the letter to King Unauwen in the Knight’s stead, Tiuri is also pursued by the Red Riders, who are a constant threat to his mission and life.
This is the classic chivalric fantasy, with a prose that makes it suitable for a confident young reader, bordering on YA. The old fashioned good and evil tale might bore some readers but there is enough going on with this one to give it heightened suspense, adventure, and inspire a curiosity. For that, it is a page turner, as you become keen to know if this Sire fulfills his mission. With friendship, allies and the notion that working often as a team gets you further, there are many lessons also to learn from this text. It was the perfect lockdown reading personally, taking me to a world of knights and horses, castles and moats. I urge you all to pick this up and find the same.
The Letter for the King is out now, published by Pushkin Press.