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Lost Prince    by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro order for
Lost Prince
by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro
Order:  USA  Can
Borderlands, 2007 (2007)
* *   Reviewed by Rheta Van Winkle

The main character in Lost Prince, Don Rolon, has been cursed before his birth and turned into a werewolf. But he has managed to keep this a secret from almost everyone, including his father. His mother dies in childbirth, and even though the king, marries again, he fathers no more legitimate sons; however he does have another son, Gil, who is illegitimate.

We meet the two young men when they are both nineteen, although Gil is slightly older. The king loves Gil best and wants him to be his heir, but petitions to the Pope to change his heir have been denied. He arranges a political marriage for Don Rolon with the niece of the Doge of Venice. The prince is horrified that he might father a child who will inherit his lycanthropy and afraid his secret will be discovered. For, even though he only turns into a wolf one night a month when the moon is full, as he has gotten older he has had more and more trouble keeping others from finding out.

Don Rolon is a good person who promises to make a good king. He has two friends who find out about his secret and help him to keep it: his valet Ciro and the dwarf jester Lugantes. Meanwhile, the Inquisition is raging in Spain, and if the head inquisitor, Padre Juan, and his cohorts discover Don Rolon's secret, he would be put to death as a child of the devil.

The real monster in this book isn't the werewolf, though; it's the Inquisition and the evil it does. We watch several people caught in the impossible clutches of the inquisitors. Once a person is accused, there seems to be virtually nothing that they can say or do to prove their innocence. Watching as these people are tortured and then, if they survive the torture, burned at the stake, is a painful experience. Because the author is so skillful at creating well-developed characters, we suffer with those who die, even when they aren't particularly key characters. When the major characters, who are important to the story, are accused, watching them suffer, knowing them to be good people, is even harder.

Yarbro writes historical fantasies, and she has a good grasp of the historical facts of the times about which she writes. This book is as much about the Spanish Inquisition as it is about the werewolf prince of Spain. The story is dark and sad and not at all easy to read. I can't say that I liked that about it - or the constant stream of typos - but I did like several of the characters very much, particularly Don Rolon and the dwarf Lugantes.

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