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    Review of EVERY INCH A KING by Harry Turtledove (see his website)

    Del Rey, February 2007

    He's a trapeze artist for one of the worst circuses in the world, but when he sees in the newspaper that a small kingdom is looking for a king--and that their candidate looks exactly like him--Otto of Schlepsig decides to become Prince Halim Eddin and to play the role of his life. Along with sword swallower-turned aide-de-camp, Otto heads to the new nation of Shqiperi, bamboozles the general who holds actual sway, entertains the harem (with the help of a well-paid wizard and the oversized sword swallower, Max, and actually gets himself crowned.

    Once officially crowned king, Otto does his best to act like a king--and not just in the bedroom. Because Shqiperi's boundaries were drawn by the major powers without much reference to the wishes of the locals or their neighbors, war threatens--and Otto goes ahead and declares war on an insulting neighbor. For a while, in fact, it looks as if he's going to war with everyone in the region.

    Author Harry Turtledove (see more reviews of novels by Turtledove) takes a break from serious alternate history in a truly funny romp that may remind readers of the fantasy fiction of another era (e.g., The Mad King by Burroughs or Hope's Prisoner of Zenda. Like these books, Turtledove sets his story in a version of the Balkans during the period of the Balkan wars (1912-1913), wars which formed a major part of the lead-up to World War I. In Turtledove's world, though, magic works, dragons and wizards are forces to be recognized, and jokes about trolls hiding under bridges just might turn out to be no-so-funny or funnier than the teller had imagined.

    Readers looking to take a break from fantasy that sees itself in all-to-serious terms might just find EVERY INCH A KING to be every inch a treat.

    Four Stars

    Reviewed 5/05/07

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