Eager, Edward: (03-04) Knight’s Castle; The Time Garden

For Christmas, Chad got me some Edward Eager books, including Knight’s Castle and The Time Garden, which I read New Year’s Eve and Day. I loved Half Magic as a kid, and read its sequel, Magic by the Lake, two summers ago. The rest of Eager’s books, though, were the kind of thing I just never got around to buying, so these were a perfect gift.

Knight’s Castle and The Time Garden feature the kids of the Half Magic protagonists; there’s one or two connections between the two sets of books, but you needn’t read them in any particular order. In each of these books, as in the prior two, the kids come upon a form of magic, have adventures, and grow up a bit (though not too pedantically).

(I have another Eager, Seven Day Magic, which doesn’t appear to be connected to any of the rest of his books. Magic or Not? and The Well-Wishers appear to a set, and somewhat unlike his other books, so they may be library material.)

For absolutely no reason that I can think of, I keep wanting to compare these to food. The dessert that always reminds you of childhood? The lemon ice that some restaurants bring you to clear your palate for the main course? Hot sweet roasted cashews from a street vendor, the kind that are only good if they’re eaten hot? They bubble along putting me in a better mood, washing away any bad tastes left by prior books, and are best gulped down at once—they might lend themselves to slow thoughtful reading, I suppose, but I’ve no inclination to try. I like them too much to risk it.

Another fun thing is how book-oriented they are. Knight’s Castle is the most obvious example of this, being basically Ivanhoe fanfic, but the joy of reading pervades the works, as part of the overall theme of imagination and willingness to consider impossible things before breakfast. (I was a little troubled by the oldest protagonist in The Time Garden, thinking that his teen preoccupation with romance was going to turn him into a Susan-out-of-Narnia, but the narrative ends up treating him more kindly than that.) I’ve downloaded three Nesbit books as a result of reading these, for my later reading pleasure (print copies being apparently hard to come by). Should I get Ivanhoe, too? The author and all of the kids in the books are of the opinion that the romance comes out wrong.

Ahem. Anyway. Start with Half Magic, but definitely read these too.


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  1. It’s been some years since I read Ivanhoe, and I remember liking it, but Scott is also pretty, well, for lack of a better word, turgid. It’s not like it’s a light, easy-tripping read, is all I’m saying. As far as the romance coming out wrong, I expect you’d really be put off by the world-view that compels Ivanhoe’s choices in that arena. I am when I stop to consider it at all closely….

  2. P.C. Hodgell did her PhD on Ivanhoe, didn’t she? Or is my memory totally dodgy?

  3. More YA lit. Have you every read Nicholas Stuart Gray? When I was a kid, I Mainly by Moonlight every year or so, checking it out from the library. I remembered it a few months ago and was able to find a copy cheap on abebooks. It had held up pretty well from my teenage memories.

  4. Trent: thanks, I’ll skip it.

    cd: not only that, but a quick google suggests that she’s trying to publish a sequel . . .

    Elaine: no, at least it doesn’t ring a bell. My local library doesn’t appear to recognize its existence, but I’m putting in on the little list I carry in my wallet for reference when in used bookstores–thanks.

  5. I LOVE Edward Eager. I was just fondling mine the other day. Seven Day will always be a favorite because of the book part of the magic, for me. Also Nesbit, there’s such a clear influence. I thought Ivanhoe was fun when I read it as a kid.

    Gosh, it was fun to stumble on this on your site. 🙂

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