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The Prince in Waiting

(The Sword of the Spirits #1)

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  892 ratings  ·  64 reviews
Luke lives in a society whose finest art is fighting. Since a natural disaster years before, there have been no machines; people must rely on their bodies and wits. All believe in the Spirits- strange, otherworldly beings whose messages are relayed through holy Seers.
Published 1973 by Puffin (first published 1970)
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Average rating 3.86  · 
Rating details
 ·  892 ratings  ·  64 reviews

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Jul 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Ian by:
Shelves: my-early-life, sf
This takes me back. I just acquired a replacement copy, and have reread, after many a year (decades). I first read this novel, along with most of Christopher's other great SF novels, when I was in High School (early 70s). After that I re-read this novel many times, but by the 80s (I think), I had moved on. Now, it is great to wallow in nostalgia (which never gets old).

The story: post-global catastrophe, some type of unspecified mass earthquake. The human population has been decimated, and its ex
K.D. McQuain
I have loved this series for as long as I can remember. I only wish it was still in print. I was lucky enough to have some correspondence with the author before he passed and look forward to sharing my yellowed and dogeared copies with my son when he's older.

Update 1/2019: My son is now reading this series and thoroughly enjoying it.
Oct 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel was hard to get into and it took me awhile to get through the first 100 pages. But after that point, things sped up and it became more interesting and engaging. The end totally blew my mind and I'm excited to see where the next book will take the story. I really didn't like the main character, he's got a lot of growing up to do. Maybe he's not supposed to be a likeable character? But Christopher's writing style and the ideas that he comes up with are so intriguing.
Timothy Braun
Aug 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This rating is heavily influenced by nostalgia.

When I was a kid I read - and thoroughly enjoyed - the first two books in this series only to discover that our library didn't have book three! For decades now, I've had vaguely fond but unresolved memories of this series. I have now taken out all three books from the local library and can't wait to finally see this story through to its resolution.
Gail Thompson
The story is told from the point of view of the central character, the protagonist, teenage Luke. As the story opens, he is about to turn thirteen, and he is concerned with typical teenage boy things, such as friends, fighting, and competition. Luke has been practicing with his sword ready for the big contest, and battle game where armies of boys are led by four captains against each other.
This book is set in feudal England, with a medieval level of technology. Each of the cities across England
Sam Hutchinson
Aug 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first book in the exciting tale which follows Luke on his quest to become prince. Barbarians and swordfights await readers in this post-apocalyptic story examining pride, chivalry and the conflict between religion and science
Jan 07, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

John Christopher made me love the end of the world. When I was a child, someone (I’ve forgotten exactly who) gave me a copy of Christopher’s Tripods Triology, a YA romp through an earth dominated by towering, three-legged, metallic creatures. The mélange of post-apocalyptic survivalism and science fiction completely captivated me, but as the years rolled on I lost track of Christopher. Seems I wasn’t the only one. Despite steadily writing under a variety of pseudonyms s
David Nichols
Feb 21, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, sci-fi
Set in a future England ravaged by natural disasters and anti-technological paranoia, this young adult novel introduces what is probably John Christopher's best trilogy. The story, set among the warring neo-medieval cities of southern England, is told through the perspective of Luke, an ill-tempered, violent, anti-intellectual (but very cunning) little yob who typifies his society's warrior elite. Christopher's crisp prose and action-packed plot, full of jousts, palace coups, warfare, murder and ...more
Anthony Bolton
May 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-of-life
The sword of the spirits is a trilogy of(young) fantasy novels that I read as a boy and is to this day one of my favourite reading experiences. I don`t remember too much which probably makes this review redundant but only that it was a perfect reading experience for a young boy .It encapsulated as the title suggests a combination of budding masculinity and spirituality.A combination that i fear is rare these days . The series seems,sadly, to be out of print, probably pushed out of the market by ...more
This book feels like it's set in the time of King Arthur but it's actually in post-apocalyptic England. The story follows Luke, the son of a warrior, and his coming of age as the world around him starts to change. I was impressed by John Christopher's world building. The characters are very interesting so even though the world feels unknown, it doesn't feel alien. As the story progresses and the author peels back the layers of this world, it becomes a page turner. I can't wait to see what happen ...more
Nov 17, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf
Unusual, but gripping English post-apocalyptic SF novel. Very readable, I read it over a matter of days, which is fast for me. It's a great yarn with a good, slightly unsympathetic protagonist in teenage Luke, a moody, gauche young man who rises from commoner to heir to the kingdom.
There are similarities with the author's Tripod series but I actually think this trilogy might be better, more mature, even though it is still a children's novel.
Elaine Nelson
May 03, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
(Yet another overdue review in which I actually don't remember tons about the book. Sorry.)

Really enjoyable young adult book that I should really just find a copy of. Great fantasy-ish setting. (Is it spoilery to note that a 40 year old book that's a trilogy starts out as fantasy and then turns out to be post-apocalyptic scifi?)
Theresa Ramp
Jun 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a wonderful read! It was slightly dark I thought for a young reader book, but reading it as an adult was a real treat. It is a futuristic novel set in the year 2000 after the world has been all but destroyed by natural causes. Society survives, but lives like medieval times. Really fascinating, and I plan to read his other books based on how much I loved this one.
Zoe's Human
Dec 04, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Perhaps had I read this when younger or perhaps had I not already read The Tripods Trilogy, I might have enjoyed The Prince in Waiting. As things are, it felt a bit formulaic with nothing particularly new to add either to the genre or the author's oeuvre. The general concept of the universe was intriguing, but it served as background to the story of young boy triumphs rather than as a focus.

Last but not least, the female characters are tiresome stereotypes that were dated at the time of publica
Alistair Robb
Jul 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book many years ago and is probably the only book in my life that I literally threw across the room in anger because I didn't like the way the story was going. Fortunately i got over it and picked it up again a few days later and was rewarded for my humbleness. As with all John Christopher stories it is uncompromising.
I read this as a kid - never forgot it. I love John Christopher. Great symbolism.
Apr 18, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this book surprisingly engaging. It's unexpectedly complex and does some fun stuff with genre bending.
Feb 20, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first in a trilogy by the master story teller, Christopher, "The Prince in Waiting" pits chance against destiny; superstition against science. The play of "the church" in controlling humons (and in this case, man's) behavior hearkens to contemporary life before technology spun it out of control and simplicity. The protagonist, Luke Parker, a 13 y/o boy is manipulated along with his father ostensibly for the good of the community and the ultimate demise of life he has known and loved. By bein ...more
Jan 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
William Leight
I was a big fan of John Christopher’s Tripod books when I was younger, but somehow never read this series, which is too bad: at the age of 12 or so I would probably have devoured it. Today, some of the holes show through, but it’s competently written and carefully plotted, and Luke, our hero, is very well done: prickly, ambitious, proud, but just aware enough of his faults to be sympathetic. The way that his character and the circumstances lead to the break between him and his half-brother Peter ...more
Mar 26, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read the first part of this at school when I must have been 13-14. It remember thinking it was really good but I never sought out the sequels - it came to mind all these years later so i thought I’d track it down. It rattled along at a pace. Loads happen. A few of the twists and turns are clearly telegraphed but still impactful, I actually felt my hear racing and one plot point which hasn’t happened in a book for a long time. It would make a great tv series. I’m not sure about the ending but a b ...more
Larry Plemmons
This book is not one of my favorites. The writing was stilted and although the characters were believable, they were almost transparent. You could almost foresee what the characters were going to do, next. Yes, the first book is usually a world builder and slower than the rest, but this one just took forever. Perhaps it is not the writer at all and it's me just being sick of dystopian stories. Take all of this review with a grain of salt.
Dec 07, 2019 rated it liked it
Still a solid tale after all these years, though female characters are few and far between.
Katharine Holden
Aug 28, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyable. Didn't guess twist right away. Would like to read sequels
This is the first volume in John Christopher’s “The Sword of the Spirits” trilogy, which is aimed at young adults. I count Christopher’s Tripods trilogy among the best young adult science fiction I’ve ever read, so I was interested to see him do fantasy. The story begins with Luke, a young man, visiting a colony of dwarves who work with arms and armour at a great forge. We learn some more about the city where he lives, a medieval-sounding place with a Prince and his captains, wagons on the roads ...more
Nov 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

This book is basically a Song of Ice and Fire (i.e. Game of Thrones) for children. Want to read about betrayal, treachery, characters-dying-even-though-you-like-them, but don't want to read a 1000 page introduction to the series which is Game of Thrones? Then this book is for you.

It starts off like a children's tale of princes and the like but turns dark fast. Real fast. Once characters start dying, you know you are in the right spot. It may seem like a typical 'hero's journey' at first, but
Selena Martens
This is a YA book from 1970 and one of my brother’s favourite books. It begins like a fantasy adventure, but you soon realize it is actually a post-apocalyptic story. Set in a far future England, long after modern civilization has collapsed. Technology and machines are now shunned as blasphemous, people worship “the Spirits” as their will is related to them by the Seers, and each city-state is independent and ruled by a Prince (not a king.)

The city-states war back and forth every summer, gaining
Mar 20, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In 7th or 8th grade, over a span of about two months I devouredThe Dark Is Rising Sequence, The Sword of the Spirits Trilogy, and a few other lone titles by John Christopher (The Lotus Caves and The Guardians). These books (initiated by The Tripods Trilogy) were turning points for me bringing an amazing recognition that books could be, well, amazing.

The Sword of the Spirits is surely a weaker trilogy than the Tripods, but it remains classic John Christopher. A future that is like the past; a ci
A series of machinations by religious and political leaders results in Luke's father as becoming the new Prince of Winchester.Luke's being named as his successor and future "Prince of Princes". he's, on the whole, pleased with his new position But before he reaches the age of seventeen his mother is murdered, his father is treacherously killed in a battle, and his elder half-brother Peter has engineered his own succession as the new Prince Luke, realizing that his position as a dispossessed heir ...more

Very good read, but not on a par with Christopher's TRIPODS series. Perhaps the sense of urgency is lost because so much time elapses in this book, instead of the plot pursuing its course remorselessly day after day. But John Christopher fans will want to complete this futuristic series set in a medieval England.

Thirteen-year-old Luke Perry, the son of a commoner (promoted to Captain) hears a prophecy of the Seers (priests of the Spirits) that he will become th
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Sam Youd was born in Huyton, Lancashire in April 1922, during an unseasonable snowstorm.

As a boy, he was devoted to the newly emergent genre of science-fiction: ‘In the early thirties,’ he later wrote, ‘we knew just enough about the solar system for its possibilities to be a magnet to the imagination.’

Over the following decades, his imagination flowed from science-fiction into general novels, cric

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The Sword of the Spirits (3 books)
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