The Prince Commands

~ A Novel by Andre Norton

Andre was buried with a copy of this book (her first solo work)
along with a copy of Three Hands for Scorpio (her last solo work).


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of cover-art for

The Prince Commands

 

--Being Sundry Adventures of Michael Karl, Sometime Crown Prince & Pretender to the Thrown of Morvania-- 

 

 

Synopsis ~

Write-up from an old Amazon.com posting ~

Michael Karl's dreams for the future do *not* include becoming the monarch of an obscure Ruritanian kingdom but he soon discovers he has no say in the matter. He, the result of a misalliance between a Morvanian Prince and an American girl, is now the sole heir to the throne. However not all of his future subjects are welcoming. On his way to his capital Michael Karl is captured and threatened by a rebel leader known as the Werewolf, apparently because he is one! Escaping Michael lands on the doorstep of an American Journalist in the guise of a distressed fellow citizen resolutely concealing his royal identity. All Michael wants is to go home to America but even incognito he can't help but get caught up in the political turmoil of his ancestral land and begins to wonder if maybe the Werewolf doesn't have a point after all.

 

Write-up from the rear flap of the "Ralestone Luck" dustjacket ~

This spirited story for boys might be called “Graustark” for the younger reader. Its background is the mythical kingdom of Morvania. Brought up in America by private tutors and a stern military guardian, Karl, the hero, knows nothing of his past or parentage. He is just beginning to discover the pleasures of an average American boyhood, when he is abruptly informed that he is to cross the ocean and assume the throne of Morvania, to which he is the heir apparent. He makes the journey with great reluctance.
Arrived in Morvania, he finds the kingdom seething with intrigue. His train is held up by the spectacular bandit chief, “The Werewolf,” a situation from which young Karl extricates himself successfully. Then, in the course of events, he makes the surprising discovery that the treacherous, dishonest nobles are plotting together to despoil the country and that his cousin, the rightful heir, far from being dead, as supposed is very much alive. He therefore joins forces with his cousin, encounters numerous thrilling adventures, and plays a big part in the events which end in his relative’s coronation. Especially colorful is the romantic background of the strange bandits led by “The Werewolf,” with their awe-inspiring disguises. The whole novel is ably written, swift and surprising in action, resourceful in its imaginative qualities – a story unique in boys’ literature.

 

Write-up from the back of the TOR paperback edition ~

Raised in America, Michael Karl learns at eighteen that he is heir to the throne of Morvania, a Bulkan kingdom threatened by revolution and the by the sinister Werewolf, a mountain marauder of more than human reputation whose followers may be less than human.
The moment he arrives in Morvania, Michael Karl is plunged into seething plot and counterplot, and deadly danger. His death would greatly benefit some very powerful adversaries.
Michael embarks on a desperate, thrilling scheme. If it succeeds, the future Morvania will be changed for the good.
If it fails, Michael will die….
“Andre Norton is a superb storyteller with a narrative pace all her own.” – New York Times

 

Write-up from a fan ~

Eighteen-year-old Michael Karl Raised in isolation on a large private estate on the US wonders why he has so many restrictions. Then he gets visitors from the Balkan kingdom of Morvania. He is informed that his cousin Urlich Karl, the rightful King is missing and presumed dead and that Michael Karl must go to Morvania to take the Throne. He just wants to be free and resists this imposition, but gives in and is transported to Morvania. His train taking him to the capital is waylaid by bandits led by the legendary rebel known as The Werewolf. This bandit leader is rumored to have killed the King and Michael, in desperation, makes a daring escape and meets Frank Ericson, an American journalist who is writing a book about Morvania. Ericson hides Michael at a Duke's house. One day Michael discovers secret passages between the house and the Castle. In the passage he hears members of the royal council plotting to seize power and that the traitorous councilmen are in league with communists who want to take over. He informs Ericson and the Duke and another ally about the plot and his is enlisted into the royal forces and goes to war against the traitors. He is told that his cousin is still alive and will fight with them, but, where is he? Who is the Werewolf and where does he stand in this conflict? And, win or lose, what does the future hold for Michael Karl? Quite an adventure! Plot twists abound and courage is tested and secrets are slowly revealed. Good read. ~ PG

 

KIRKUS REVIEW ~ Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 1934
A Graustark type of tale, in which a boy, brought up in ignorance of his royal blood, is spirited off to become the ruler of a virtually unknown Balkan principality. On the way, he is captured by bandits, and falls into a series of exciting and hair raising adventures. A familiar formula -- but good reading. 

 

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Dedications and Acknowledgements ~

Author's Note
Once, some few years ago, a boy begged a story of me. It was to be of "sword fights and impossible things." I complied as best I could with this imaginary tale of Courts and Castles, Crown Princes and Communists. The telling of it was not in days,
or weeks, but in months. However, I fulfilled my promise.
Here, John, is your story of “impossible things."

 

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Bibliography of English Editions ~

  • (1934) Published by Appleton–Century, HC, LCCN 34003730, $2.00, 268pg ~ illustrated by Kate Seredy - (1) at the base of page (269)
  • (1983) Published by TOR, PB, 0-523-48058-X, 978-0-523-48058-9, $2.95, 255pg ~ cover by Tom Kidd
  • (2012) Published by Premier Digital Publishing, eISBN 978-1-937957-55-1, DM, $3.99, 177pg ~ cover by Kib Prestridge
  • (2014) Published by Open Road Media, eISBN 978-1-497656-57-4, DM, $3.99, 255pg ~ cover by Kib Prestridge

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Non-English Editions ~

  • (1937) Published in Copenhagen, Denmark; by Glydendalske Boghandel, OCLC: 60953554, 88pg
  • (1995) Combined with "The Opal-Eye Fan" ~ Published in Moscow, by Sigma Press and Zelenograd, by Zelenogradskaya Books, 5-859-49035-6, HC, 416pg ~ translation by Dmitry Arseniev ~ cover by Peter Andrew Jones ~ Russian title Принц приказывает [The Prince Commands]

 

View the original contract

View the 1981 TOR contract

View the 1984 contract amendment

 

 

 

 

Interior Illustrations

 

 

 

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