Young Adult Literature


The King's Shadow
by Elizabeth Alder


Eleventh-century Britain is the background for Alder's finely written account of a slave who becomes the chronicler of Harold, last of the Saxon kings. When Evyn is brutally attacked and rendered mute, his hopes of becoming a storyteller and escaping his life as a serf are shattered. Sold into slavery, he joins the household of Lady Ealdgyth, the common-law wife of Earl Harold of Wessex. Illiterate, mutilated, and feared by the thralls, Evyn becomes known as Shadow. When he is sent to a monastery to be educated, his future is altered forever. After his return, he saves the life of Earl Harold and follows Harold, as his squire and later as his foster son, from Wessex to London and eventually to the Battle of Hastings, where he witnesses Harold's death. On the journey, Evyn learns about loyalty, honor, and bravery, and he comes to realize that by chronicling the fate of his king, he has actually become a storyteller. Alder's vivid descriptions of the harsh conditions and customs of medieval life make the story come alive, and her brisk pacing never wavers. Evyn is an observant, sympathetic narrator, an apt recorder of the perilous times. Chris Sherman


-Historical Fiction


-ALA Best Book for Young Adults