The Kestrel (Westmark, #2)
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The Kestrel (Westmark #2)

3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  1,904 ratings  ·  70 reviews
In the second volume of the Westmark trilogy, Theo is about to be Prince of Westmark, a province marked by great poverty and corruption. But an assassin's pistol shot makes things even more dangerous for the new monarchy.
Paperback, 256 pages
Published June 10th 2002 by Firebird (first published January 1st 1982)
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Alicia Beale
The ending blew me away. The whole series was my introduction to political science. I love this book. It is a deep passionate love.
Angie
Originally reviewed here.

A couple of weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to attend a Shakespeare Festival in a small town down south. DH and I have gone three times in the last few years, as children and time off work permitted, and each time it's been an utter delight. This year we went with some good friends so it was twice as fun. One afternoon we were in between plays, and I was determined to get back to this little used bookstore we'd visited the last time we made it down. For many years now,...more
Emily
So WESTMARK was fine...THE KESTRAL really took it to another level. Everything is darker--the morality/ethics, the motivations of characters (who all have different perspectives on governance/social justice), and of course, the introduction of a war into the realm.

This story explored the soul-deadening quality of war in ways that made me stop reading it at night (and yet, it is handled in an appropriate way for tween readers). There were some descriptions that were absolutely chilling but this...more
Adam Shields
Short Review: Prior to the Hunger Games this is the only young adult series that I had read that I felt really had an anti-war theme. Reading it again for the first time in 20+ years the theme is not as strongly presented as I remembered. And the books have less detail than I remembered. But it is well worth reading. In the last book, Mickle is reunited with her parents and the tyrant Carabas is exiled. At the beginning of this book Theo is touring the country on the task of understanding the pe...more
Mara
Cover Blurb: Yes or No? My problems with this cover are the same as for Westmark. It’s blockish and rather dull and just doesn’t suit for me.

Characters: All of the characters we know and love are back, along with some new ones. And they’re all just as wonderful and likable as before. Mickle proves her strength of character even further in this installment, as she bravely takes personal command of her forlorn army and stands against the invading Regians. I was never extremely fond of Justin in We...more
Rachel
Theo discovers that ideals and character can be altered in war. This book is definitely more intense than Westmark. One of the most telling lines came from Queen Mickle at the end. As Torrens and dowager Queen Caroline debate the merits of medals for leaders who served in the war, but are certainly motivated by the desire to see an end to monarchy, Mickle says (in paraphrase), "Certainly, give ribbons and metal to those who turned themselves into animals to save our country. Give them to the dea...more
Andrea
This book is the one book by Lloyd Alexander that I can honestly say I didn't like.

At first, the plot was pretty interesting, but I felt that the book dragged on and on and ON! It was quite hard to read after a while.

The ending, as well, disappointed me. A lot. And Theo's attitude changed a whole lot during the book. I understand that he's maturing with age and experience, but really? I liked the inquisitive, trouble-making printer's devil that he was in the first book better than the sultry,...more
Marty
The second book in the Westmark Trilogy (see my review of Westmark for further illumination on this topic) is the one that I remember as being the least memorable of the series. About half-way through the book, I could understand why. When I finished, I couldn't help but second guess my first impressions, since the book resolved into a thoughtful and powerful finish, ending in a great, tight, fascinating read. Whereas Westmark felt like its ending was rushed and missing pieces--there is no doubt...more
Scribbler King
It's hard to know what to think of KESTREL. It's a simple book in many ways--the writing and plot are both straightforward--but in others it's one of the most complicated books that I've ever read. I think that's mostly due to the fact that there are many, many unanswered moral questions.

Should you shoot prisoners that you can't keep because they might end up killing you and your men if you let them go, or should you keep them no matter how much of a drag on the company they would be--and the d...more
Karissa
This is the second book in the Westmark Trilogy and starts up a short time after the last book left off. It was a solid young adult fantasy; I didn't like it quite as much as the first book but it was still a very well put together fantasy.

Theo is assigned with going exploring around the kingdom and reporting the findings back to the Queen and King. While he is out news comes to him from Florian that one of the kingdom's main generals may be a traitor; right after Theo gets this news he receives...more
Vaughn Hokanson
This second chapter in the Westmark trilogy picks up where the first book left off and continues Theo’s adventures as he becomes at first a reluctant and eventually a totally engaged participant in a war between Westmark and the neighboring kingdom of Regia. He eventually loses a part of his identity in the war becoming the bloodthirsty colonel Kestrel. Most of the characters from the first book are back and most have taken on new and more influential roles in society, and again Carrabas is the...more
Julianne
This book is out of print and very hard to find. (Currently $43.80 for a new copy on Amazon.) Which is a shame, because it's very good. Why the second book in a trilogy would go out of print when the first and third books haven't is a mystery to me. (Though might it have something to do with the fact that our dauntless hero, Theo, at one point finds himself wondering how he got a "reddish crust" (p. 149) under his fingernails?) Regardless, this book is absolutely integral to the series and shoul...more
Jessica
LOL. I think I could never stop raving about the books by Lloyd Alexander!! He's SUCH an amazing writer, and though I haven't read ALL of his books, I've read a LARGE portion of them! hehe. :)

Here's from the publisher:

Theo is traveling Westmark, learning about the country of which he will soon be Prince Consort. He is not surprised to find great poverty-Mickle (now known as Princess Augusta) could have told him that from her years on the street. His friend Florian could have told him about the a...more
Lindsay
Not enough of the key players. Not enough of the key players together.

If, in the first book, a band of misfits comes together by chance, then in this second book, our band of misfits disperse and travel (for the most part), parallel but separate paths.

Everyone is having an identity crisis while engulfed in war and chaos.

This is the book where the characters all grow up (we see a similar set-up in "Taran Wanderer" from The Prydain Chronicles).

I really liked how readers learned a little bit more...more
Books Kids Like
King Augustine is dead, and Mickle is Queen Augusta. Unhappy with her governmental reforms that give more voice to the commoner, Count Montmollin and General Erzcour arrange for troops from neighboring Regia to invade Westmark. The plan calls for Westmark’s troops to put up a token resistance and then surrender. Unfortunately, the common soldiers aren't privy to the plan. They defect and begin fighting on their own. Before the invasion, Mickle dons her ragamuffin garb and escapes the palace. Whe...more
Jess
It was a little bit of a Lloyd Alexander month - I read the first two in this trilogy after I noticed them languishing on the library shelves. They have a very different feel than the Prydain books, although you still know you're in the hands of a master storyteller. The first is more of an adventure story, with schemes and deceptions and surprises, with political issues simmering in the background. In the second, those political issues change a little and come to the forefront, and the depictio...more
Cera
I first read this book during junior high or high school and loved it passionately, and have reread it many times since. Why does it never get mentioned when people are discussing republican/revolutionary fantasy? It's a strong novel despite being the middle book of a trilogy. Yes, the political and ethical questions are simplified for the YA audience, but it's a passionate book and has a lot more psychological realism than Alexander's much more famous Prydain books.

None of that is why I love it...more
Anthony Faber
First of the Westmark trilogy. More poverty and violence that the typical feudal fantasy, , not to mention children's fantasy, but I'm not too fond of sugarcoating that, anyway. The moral agonizing of the main character goes a bit overboard and is a bit anachronistic.

Julie
Apr 28, 2009 Julie rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Julie by: Alex
The second book in the Westmark trilogy picks up with Mickle on the throne and Theo, her fiancé, traveling incognito around the kingdom to suss out the mindset of the people. He finds a fair amount of disgruntlement due to the tyranny of the former chief minister, but there is a worse danger: some of the aristocracy has been plotting with neighboring Regia, and soon a full-fledged war has begun between the two kingdoms. Mickle grows into her role of commander-in-chief, but gentle, honorable Theo...more
Anna
I was surprised by how dark this was for a work of young adult fiction. Its portrayal of how war changes people is haunting. Scenes of violence are not as graphic as they are in some other books (cough Hunger Games), but in a way this is more unsettling, because it leaves the reader to imagine the horrible things the “good guys” have been doing off camera. There is deep discomfort with what was done and resistance to the idea that it was right or even necessary, yet the question is still floatin...more
Elaine
Typical second book of a trilogy in that there's transition from the beginning to prepare for a grand ending. At least I hope it'll be a grand ending.
Kathy
Not as delightful as the first, more serious.
Still very enjoyable. And onto the third & conclusion.
Elizabeth
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Wm
This novel had a huge impact on me when I was an adolescent so I approached this re-read of it with some trepidation. I can see why some people don't like it very much, but it still hits me hard.

The plot relies on too much coincidence.

But I don't know a better introduction for young teens to how the personal becomes political and vice versa and even more horrifically so in the context of war. Of how artists can be broken and princesses become pragmatic and sacrifices and love get all mixed up...more
Amanda
I just couldn't get through this. The first one in this series, Westmark, was great, thoughtful and adventurous, but this sequel had the characters scattered and the relationships I cared about on the back burner. Sure I'm interested in the moral philosophy at the heart of the plot, but it overtook the things that made me love the first novel, and that was disappointing.
James
I really didn't enjoy this, which surprised me after having liked Westmark. Alexander always, in my experience, writes at a high level, and his attention to the moral complications of war (When Good Guys Do Bad Things - scorched earth policies, execution of prisoners) in this novel is commendable and highly unusual in a children's book. But I really resisted returning to finish this novel, time and again. Perhaps it's because Florian and his crew are all the sort of earnest, change-the-world, ne...more
Winddancer
This book was very, very good. One that I most certainly re-read, and subsequently re-evaluate. Second in the Westmark trilogy, it watches Theo go from printer's apprentice to brutal renegade. My only criticism--my only one--is that I didn't feel the terror that Colonel Kestrel sparked in the people he was attacking, nor did I feel Theo's descent into, well, a form of madness. Alexander condensed many, many months of campaigning into a few chapters, again giving his readers highlights, sips, nev...more
MaryAnn
I read most of Lloyd Alexander in my youth (actually he kind of got me through middle school) but I didn't even know the Westmark Trilogy existed until about a month ago. The Kestrel (book II) is definitely the diamond of the series. It is about war and trying to figure out if one's ideals can really hold in the brutality of the real world. Pretty hefty stuff for a children's novel, but Alexander pulls it off very very well, without being overly depressing, and without tying everything up in a n...more
Danelley
This second book in the Westmark series started to read like the war chapters of Alma in the Book of Mormon. This book was kind of sad to me. Sometimes I just hate to see what an author does to a main character and the loss of innocence that comes. I will say it is a definitely realistic portrayal of what usually happens when you overthrow a government, even an abusive one, something that should not be taken lightly. Still interesting, not too sunny but still a good read.
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Lloyd Chudley Alexander (January 30, 1924 - May 17, 2007) was an influential American author of more than forty books, mostly fantasy novels for children and adolescents, as well as several adult books. His most famous contribution to the field of children's literature is the fantasy series The Chronicles of Prydain. The concluding book of the series, The High King, was awarded the Newbery Medal i...more
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“He was a great poet" They lamented.

No, he was not a great poet," said Theo, "He was a good poet, he could have been better. That's the real loss don't you see?”
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