The Prince who Walked with Lions – Elizabeth Laird

The Prince Who Walked With Lions


Macmillan Children’s Books

My Rating 3.5 stars

I’m almost ashamed to say that before reading this I had never even heard of Elizabeth Laird but an examination of her back catalogue has revealed a veritable Aladdin’s Cave of children’s literature – much to add to the never-ending wishlist both for my children and I.   She has certainly had a full and varied life, working and travelling in many different parts of the world – a multicultural cornucopia which she has drawn upon to produce a range of intelligently written novels for young people.

Based on a true story, our narrator is the young Prince Alamayu, son of Emperor  Theodore of Abyssinia (now known as Ethiopia).  He tells his story as he lies on his sickbed during his time as a student at Rugby, via a series of flashbacks to his early childhood.  What follows is a detailed, interesting tale of an exotic lifestyle brought to a sudden end by the death of his father at the hands of Queen Victoria’s troops in 1868.   Torn from his native country, he is brought up and educated as a typical English gentleman but he finds it hard to fit in with his peers.

This is an engaging, poignant tale of a proud young royal striving to adapt to extreme changes in circumstances.  Laird captures the turmoil of a young boy caught between two worlds, slowly forgetting his Ethiopian heritage yet not quite achieving the status of a perfect young gentleman despite his associations with Queen Victoria herself.   Reading this has encouraged me to find out more about this particular part of history – what a bonus if it could incite the same curiosity in younger readers.  Off now to check out Elizabeth’s previous novels – Kiss The Dust  and  A Little Piece of Ground are particularly catching my eye.

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