By Edward Eager, first published 1956
“Their father always said how could he be sure there was magic, and besides, even if there weren’t any such thing as magic, wasn’t it pleasant to think that there might be?”
It’s always interesting to a children’s book, one in a series, by a particular author that you love, as there is the expectation that each will be as good if not better than the previous. Knight’s Castle lives up to the expectation that Half Magic set up for me. However, I didn’t read it next; first I read the sequel to Half Magic, called Magic by the Lake. I was pretty disappointed. The magic was lame, the events were short and didn’t really hang well together. In short, it all just didn’t work. I was going to give up on Eager, but I persevered and was so glad I did. Knight’s Castle is yet another magical children’s book that has the hallmark of Edward Eager’s sense of humor and love of adventure.
It is a particularly appealing story because it goes back to the days of the Knights again, this time using Ivanhoe and Robin Hood as the characters that the children encounter. The back and forth between the two worlds is deftly woven in a way that you almost wish it could have really happened. Along the way, Roger, the main character, learns some humbling lessons about how to treat his younger sister with more respect, and she learns how to think for herself. The characters are beautifully developed in this book. In typical Edward Eager style, the little references to E. Nesbit’s wonderful children’s books appear here and there, reminding us of his mentor, whose books are reviewed elsewhere on this website. I also enjoyed seeing the new characters emerge as the children of the characters from Half Magic, a very nice touch.