April 17, 2009

I’ve been very busy lately, but I always make time to read. What I can’t always make time for is the writing part. So, in an effort to catch up, here are my brief thoughts on Graustark:

Graustark is about a rich American named Grenfall Lorry — and his name is pretty much the coolest thing about him — who falls in love with a mysterious foreign girl traveling through America with her aunt and uncle. He follows her home to Europe, only to find that she is actually Princess Yetive, ruler of the tiny principality of Graustark.

Graustark is bordered by two other imaginary countries: Axphain and Dawsbergen. Graustark owes Axphain an enormous debt, which it must pay in cash or in land. It’s not able to do the former, and has a horror of the latter that’s justified when you know how tiny it already is. But there’s another way out: Yetive can marry Prince Lorenz, son of the ruler of Axphain. Or she can marry Prince Gabriel of Dawsbergen.

Yetive finally consents to marry Lorenz for the sake of her country, and then the situation gets really complicated: Prince Gabriel kills Lorenz and frames Lorry for it, leading to a long and boring storyline in which all the princess’ friends help Lorry escape from prison and he keep refusing to leave the country without seeing her.

It’s ridiculous, really. All Lorry’s so-called heroics involve getting himself into dangerous situations in order to see Yetive, who has asked him repeatedly to leave the country because he’s causing her a lot of trouble. In the end it’s Lorry’s friend Harry Anguish who unmasks Prince Gabriel and redirects Axphain’s anger to Dawsbergen.

And then, somehow, Yetive and Lorry are allowed to get married. I liked Yetive, but I wished that she’d refused to marry Lorry and that he’d jumped off one of Graustark’s pointy fairy-tale mountains instead.

I won’t be reading the sequels.


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