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When King Comes Home (A College of Magics)

3.46  ·  Rating Details  ·  373 Ratings  ·  46 Reviews
Good King Julian IV of Aravis has been dead for 200 years, but his kingdom still misses him. Hail Rosmer wants to be an artist like the fabled Maspero who made Good King Julian's crown. When Hail sees a man catching a fish from the river, she notices that he looks just like King Julian. And there begins an adventure that takes Hail and her enigmatic companion from palace t ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published by Tor Books (first published 2000)
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(showing 1-30 of 728)
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May 25, 2008 Melissa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I much preferred When the King Comes Home to Stevermer's other books set in the same world; it seemed to have more heart and more at stake. I liked the heroine, Hail, with her devotion to art and her determination to muddle through any problem set before her. I really liked the descriptions of the returned king and his champion. Perhaps it's natural I'd have a soft spot for a book featuring a "wayward librarian turned necromancer" also.
Sep 09, 2014 Joel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The bad news first. The plot is pretty rough here. Lots of people show up at the right places at convenient times, plans just magically work out (sometimes literally), characters have knowledge (presumably so the dialogue is less clunky). For me, these problems were just confusing and broke immersion.

On the other hand, the setting and the characters were a delight! The setting is a fictional region of Renaissance(?) Europe. The story is narrated by Hail Rosamer, the elderly artist, telling about
Jan 02, 2009 Allyson rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
I keep thinking I like this book more than I actually do. It's good, but I'm never as involved in it as College of Magics or Scholar of Magics. I can't pinpoint what about it that doesn't keep me utterly enthralled - I like the characters and the setting; the plot is fine, nothing groundbreaking but not terrible; and I enjoy Stevermer's style. I always think Hail is younger than she actually is and I tended to misremember minor details, which was rather jarring when they were referenced in the t ...more
William Leight
Somehow this book just didn't connect with me. The heroine, Hail Rosamer, is well-drawn, but her bulldog-like tendency to fixate on one thing and hang on like grim death, largely ignoring everything around her, makes her hard to relate to (and makes it slightly unbelievable that she only once ends up in serious danger). And aside from Hail, we never really learn much about any of the other characters. Given that Hail is narrating, this makes sense -- Hail doesn't really seem all that interested ...more
Reno (Falling Letters)
Mar 17, 2015 Reno (Falling Letters) rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
Quick review originally posted on 5 May 2013 at Falling Letters.

I had a cautiously optimistic hope for this book! I stopped signing books out of the scifi/fantasy section of the library years ago because I could only find awful books, but somehow this caught my eye and the description on the dust jacket sounded very nice, just the sort of thing I would like to read. But...

Oooh, what a disappointment! It was alright for about 50 pages, then I thought it was going to get better, so I kept going, a
Mar 03, 2009 Sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own
I truly loved the character telling the story. This was one of the few times where I felt like I really got to know and understand the narrator. Often, with first person writing, it's too easy to let main character become a narrator of the story as a whole, rather than their own personal experience. That didn't happen here. I really loved her, she's feisty and sarcastic and drives other people nuts. I laughed out loud several times. The whole book was worth the read just because of this characte ...more
Nov 03, 2009 Julie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I liked this book better than I expected, given that I really did not enjoy A College of Magics. I could like the protagonist, even though it did get the point where she's going around with these people for no particular reason and also seems to be an adjunct to the actual goings-on. She does actually do things and has at least one important thing to do.

I think I picked this book up for a promised threesome. That is, a love triangle that's not at odds with itself. There might be another word for
Sep 09, 2013 Julie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
While I enjoyed the well-written main character, the mixture of real and fantasy was a little uneven. The first part is set in a Renaissance-esque Italian-esque town, where Hail Rosamer is apprenticed to a (female) master artist. We follow her as she learns about pigments, befriends or tolerates her fellow-apprentices, and becomes enamored of the work of the great Maspero, who sculpted and painted masterpieces in the time of Good King Julian 200 years before. Then one day Hail encounters a begga ...more
Thomas Arvanitis
Feb 19, 2015 Thomas Arvanitis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A slim, stand-alone fantasy novel, with a limited (but crucial) use of magic. I really enjoyed the language the writer uses, with a subtle wit and beautiful cadence. The characters are quite interesting, and the setting well thought out and presented. The plot, however, was just adequate (hence the 4 stars, instead of 5)
Another "meh" book, unfortunately. I'm not really sure what kept me from liking the book more. It was set in an interesting time period, and at least some of the characters drew me in (Istvan and Julian, particularly). I found myself wishing that there was a previous book that was actually set 200 years earlier, when Julian and Andred and Istvan were originally alive. Their backstory was intriguing and I wanted to see it "first-hand."

My other problem seems to have been that I didn't like Hail al
May 13, 2013 Sara rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: keep-on
Rarely do I buy a book on a whim without recommendations or at least having heard of the author. I'm glad I did.

When The King Comes Home is unlike the other fantasies I read. I was pleasantly surprised to find that despite it being so short, it had a crisp world and characters; something most fantasy authors need 700+ pages of lengthy description to succeed in.

My only qualms being I wish the book had been slightly longer if only because I would have wanted more time with some of the characters
Maureen E
Oct 11, 2011 Maureen E rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It’s been awhile since I read the other two books in this series, which meant that I wasn’t quite sure where this one was supposed to fall in the timeline. The first two were both sort of early 20th century, whereas this one seemed much more Renaissance-y. Eventally I just let it go and enjoyed the book. I found all of the details about learning to be an artist fascinating. I also liked the fact that it didn’t have romance, but didn’t have it in a way that seemed natural to the character. Quite ...more
Sep 13, 2011 Amy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Like a satisfying piece of dark chocolate.
I did not want to put it down, and I did not want it to end.
Honestly, I need to read it again before I give more details; I lent it to someone (ok, watch out friends!) and never got it back. But I definitely loved it.
Stevermer is a fantastic author.

--new: I am reading it again, and it is just as satisfying the second time through. The imagery is fantastic, and she includes just the right amount of detail in each scene, whether it's dialogue or descripti
Jun 08, 2010 Becca rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
(5/19/09) Weird. I'm not sure I got it.

(6/7/10) I've upped the rating from 3 to 4 stars, because I did much better with it this time. I still think the main characters is overly impetuous, but just because I wouldn't like her in person doesn't mean she is a bad main character. The plot hung together better on a second reading, too. My favorite part is still the description of life in the atelier, but I can appreciate the adventures more. It's really a pity about Ludovic; he seems very pretty.
Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides
Strictly speaking this is maybe not a four-star book, but it's got so many things that I personally enjoy. Also, a female expy of Benvenuto Cellini. Who could resist that? Not me. (Her name being Hail Rosamer ("My name is a greeting, dignified and sober, not a form of bad weather.") was not just the author being quirky. Benvenuto means "Welcome" in Italian.)
Jun 23, 2013 Liz rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, ya, 21st-century
I wasn't quite sure what to do with this book. It feels...unfinished, perhaps As though it is still one draft away from being done. I've enjoyed the other books in this series and love Stevermer's collaborations with Wrede, so it's not the author. Just this book.
For those who enjoyed College of Magic, this book is interesting because of the background it provides for Galazon and the rest of the story but, overall, it was just meh.
Karen Brennan
I enjoyed this book. Her writing is excellent and she really keeps you involved in the story, but I enjoyed A College of Magics more.
May 07, 2013 Isana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was short but entertaining. I was really pulled into the story and enjoyed it a lot. Only thing that irked me was the ending. It felt so rushed which, I suppose, makes some sense since the book is her talking about that one adventure but it still felt really, really weak. I still liked it enough that the end didn't ruin my opinion of it though.
Eliza Wyatt
I really loved this book, until about halfway through. If anything, I almost think it was the fantasy that killed it; the renaissance setting and the art were so interesting, and fantasy is my genre of choice. That said, the writing is beautiful throughout, the characters are interesting. I suppose it's the plot and theme that I found lacking.
Apr 30, 2009 Miriam rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
High fantasy riff on the legend(s) of Arthur and other great leaders who are not dead but sleeping and promised to return in the hour of their kingdom's greatest need.

Possibly deserves another star, but I was disappointed by not liking it as much as her other books. Should probably reread it with fewer expectations.
Feb 02, 2011 Clare rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When the King Comes Home has such an interesting and deftly rendered heroine that some readers might feel a little put-out at her ultimate fate. It’s beautifully written, has a unique setting, and is firmly devoted to its overarching theme of a loss of wonder in the world. Worth a read.
Shawn Thrasher
Oct 22, 2013 Shawn Thrasher rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love fantasy like this. Every time I find a book like this, it's like finding an unbroken robin's egg lying at the base of a tree, a real treasure. And every time I read a book like this, I don't ever want it to end. And every time I finish a book like this, I'm greedy and want more.
Apr 05, 2011 Marissa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy-sci-fi
This was a "quiet" novel, which, despite containing battles and other action sequences, predominantly revolved around the thoughts of young artist Hail. The "magic" actually came from her impressions of what was going on and the arts with which is fascinated. It was an enjoyable read.
Sandra Strange
In this medieval type fantasy, the protagonist wants to be a great artist, so she has an artist's eye--which allows her to see something different in the emaciated and tired man catching fish and eating it raw. Positive fantasy adventure with an engaging protagonist.
Aug 26, 2009 Allison rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: epl
Again, first person narration that runs throughout someone's childhood and adolescence does not appear to be my style at the moment.

This was sometimes funny, but somehow even more farfetched than one would expect.
Not totally related to the other stories in College of Magics. Merely in the same general world. Like them, the ending is not totally happy but not totally unhappy and getting to the ending is an adventure.
Lovely Rita
I liked the heroine, and the world - but I'm not sure the story really went anywhere, or at least, I'm not sure how satisfying the conclusion was. Which might have been the point? Not sure.
Jun 29, 2010 Mary rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I think I would have liked this book more if I hadn't wasted so much attention trying to figure out how the characters related to similarly-named characters in A College of Magics.
Sep 11, 2007 Temaris rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, reviewed
Grim, predictable and unoriginal. It felt unfinished, almost as though one story was abandoned halfway through for the formulaic fantasy. Tedious and hard going.
Jan 24, 2013 Violinknitter rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved this book. Loved the feisty, artistic Hail, loved the southern European Renaissance setting, loved the unexpected twists in the story.
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(from website)
Caroline Stevermer grew up miles from anywhere on a dairy farm in southeastern Minnesota. She has a sister and two brothers. After high school, she attended Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania, where she earned a B.A. degree in the history of art. She knew she wanted to be a writer when she was eight years old. She began by writing stories in her school notebooks. (They were not good.
More about Caroline Stevermer...

Other Books in the Series

A College of Magics (3 books)
  • A College of Magics (A College of Magics, #1)
  • A Scholar of Magics (A College of Magics, #2)

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