Medraut is the eldest son of Artos, high king of Britain and, but for an accident of birth, would be heir to the throne. Instead, his younger half-brother, Lleu, fragile and inexperienced, is chosen. Medraut cannot bear to be commanded and contradicted by this weakling brother who he feels has usurped both his birthright and his father's favor. Torn and bitter, he joins Morgause, the high king's treacherous sister, in a plot to force Artos to forfeit his power and kingdom in exchange for Lleu's life. But this plot soon proves to be much more-a battlefield on which Medraut is forced to decide, for good or evil, where his own allegiance truly lies.
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The story that became The Winter Prince took root in my mind when I was fifteen, and took some ten years to put together as a book. The character of Medraut in his early form would probably be unrecognizable now, even to me, but one aspect of his personality never changed. His story has always been about jealousy, and learning to cope with it. The book is set in sixth century Britain, but the emotional struggle of its characters is timeless. I tried to make a point of this in the prologue. In the first scene of The Winter Prince there is no setting at all--no time (other than the season and the time of day), no place, no context for the father and son that are speaking. I wanted them to represent any parent and child, anywhere, any time, trying to love each other, trying to communicate.
The Winter Prince was my first novel, originally published ten years ago. It is a delight to me that it is reprinted now, to coincide with the release of its sequel, A Coalition of Lions. A third book, The Sunbird, will soon follow.From Kirkus Reviews:
A first novel that compares honorably with Sutcliff's books in its lyrical evocation of Arthur's Britain and is also akin to Napoli's The Magic Circle (p. 789) in its contemporary reworking of legendary figures--particularly women. Omitting Merlin and Lancelot, Wein incorporates Welsh lore and names in her story: at Artos's Camlann are his queen, Ginevra, and his three children: twins Goewin and sickly Lleu, Artos's legitimate heir, and their older half-brother Medraut (Mordred), whose narrative is addressed to beautiful, dangerous Morgause--Artos's sister and Medraut's mother--a cruel, fascinating woman whose gentle hands more often harm than heal. Conniving to make Medraut Artos's heir, she torments Lleu with poisons, while Medraut--a gifted, richly complex young man whose deep ambivalence about Lleu governs the story--heals and taunts him, teaches, admires, and envies him and finally takes the lad hostage at Morgause's behest. Lleu, coming into his real strengths, turns tables on his captor; their journey home is one of self-realization and reconciliation--themes emblemized, earlier, in a solstice celebration when the ``Winter Prince''--the Old Year's son-- enables the New Year's birth. The metamorphosis of the relationships is both dynamic and subtle, and Wein's chosen voice is intriguing, since there's no setting for the telling--is Medraut still compelled, even when his loyalties have shifted, to explain himself to Morgause? Goewin, who's as able as her brothers and empathizes with her aunt's thwarted ambition, may have a tale of her own. A mesmerizing, splendidly imagined debut. (Fiction. 12+) -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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