Monday, November 16, 2009

Book Review: The Legend of the Wandering King

Laura Gallego-Garcia’s The Legend of the Wandering King was standing among the newly processed books in the technical room of the library when it called for me, asking to be read. I did not heed the call until two weeks later when it was officially out for circulation.

The book blew me away. I felt the need to share it with the grade seven Reading teachers in school who perennially search for interesting titles of books. They were drawn to the book too that they included it in the list of book reports for grade seven. It turned out that the students and their parents enjoyed the book as well.

This is one of the perks of the job – to discover wonderful reads, share them with others and in the process, experience the delight and enjoyment that the printed word can offer.

What worked
The romance. Yes, I'm a romantic fool. But I'm not talking of the love story between Walid, the lead character, and Zahra, the Bedouin. The journey towards redemption; the search for life's meaning; the quest for one's dreams and its fulfillment; and the fairy tale ending -- everybody lives happily ever after -- all these appealed to me immensely.

The writing. Gallego-Garcia's language must have been brilliantly beautiful in Spanish that it is equally flavorful in English.

The setting, historical background and local flavor.The exotic land of Arabia during the pre-Muslim epoch evokes great curiosity. This is the stuff I devour -- the past and how it could never be brought back, except in stories.

The characters. Prince Walid is a darling. But as always, the underdog has my vote. The carpet weaver is my hero. Besides, he was a very intelligent librarian and archivist. He's a poet too and he successfully trumped down the prince's talent three times.

What did not work
The old man in the red turban. Then again, it's forgivable since the novel is a story of enchantment. Good thing that Gallego-Garcia made Walid suffer. The presence of the djinn was made credible.

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