Reviews for Unfortunate Son

Booklist Reviews 2012 July #1
Set at the turn of the sixteenth century, this gripping novel combines feudal subterfuge, piratical intrigue, and fierce and shifting loyalties in a complex, meaty tale of adventure. Young Luc is growing up in a fishing village on France's Mediterranean coast, a stranger from Provence, imperfectly born with a single ear. Adopted by an elderly couple and their young ward, Beatrice, herself an outsider, Luc learns the ways of the sea and is soon a trusted and indispensable member of the family. When Luc and his patriarch are attacked by slavers, Luc is kidnapped to Tunisia and enslaved to Hassan, a master who allows him to be educated, even as he keeps him close. Back in the village, Beatrice sets about finding Luc, and her search uncovers surprising truths that lead to a shining end worthy of a fairy tale. Leeds' story, by turns epic, intimate, tangled, and romantic, takes a cast of indelibly colorful characters across continents steeped in a sense of place and paints a visceral picture of duty, perseverance, and their just reward. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2012 Fall
Born missing an ear, the son of a brutal fifteenth-century French count is banished and raised by local farmers and fishermen, then kidnapped and sold into slavery to a kind doctor in Africa, who recognizes his intelligence. Along with plenty of adventure and intrigue, the story provides a fascinating window into an Islamic world where education and learning thrived.

Kirkus Reviews 2012 May #1
The nature of luck, fortune and fate is dissected and reexamined over the course of this outstanding novel. Born with only one ear, Luc considers his lot in life distinctly unlucky. His father hates him, seemingly without reason, so when the chance arises to apprentice with a local fisherman, the boy leaps at it. Living with the fisherman's family he grows close to their ward, the beautiful Beatrice, and things seem to be looking up… until he's kidnapped by pirates and sold to a Tunisian in North Africa. While Luc receives an education from his learned master, Beatrice looks into Luc's past and discovers that he is the discarded son of a particularly vicious count. Though the plot falls into familiar territory--a hero discovers his true parentage--Leeds sets the book up as more of a historical conspiracy tale. Indeed, Beatrice's attempts to unravel the truth reveal the dead count's vast cover-up, unknown to even Luc's brother. Leeds writes delicately, fleshing out each character as a fully realized human being. Set in 15th-century France and Tunisia, the book is also meticulously researched, throwing readers into a past that feels fresh and new. Engaging from the very first page, this is one work of historical fiction that will have even readers who prefer fantasy clamoring for a sequel. (Historical fiction. 9-12) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

School Library Journal Reviews 2012 September

Gr 5-9--Readers are effortlessly transported back to 15th-century France in this beautiful tale of misfortune turned salvation. Born with only one ear, Luc was never the favored son. His father despises him and doesn't care when Luc apprentices himself to Pons, an elderly fisherman. The fishing village is richly detailed, romanticized yet realistic. Luc's fortune seems to change while he lives under the care of Pons, his sister Mattie, and 14-year-old Beatrice, daughter of a disgraced knight. The fully drawn characters banter back and forth, creating a warm surrogate family. The dialogue sparkles; the rapport between Luc and Beatrice is outstanding. When Pons and Luc are attacked by Saracen pirates, Luc's misfortune seems to return. Enslaved and purchased for a pittance because of his missing ear, his highly educated master realizes Luc's intelligence and begins to teach his new slave-an excellent illustration of education bridging barriers. Luc's world expands dramatically but he still longs for freedom. In France, Beatrice refuses to give up hope regarding his fate, even though her family has been cleared. She returns to nobility, taking Pons and Mattie with her. She believes rumors that Luc is not a simple country lad. But who is he? Freed upon his master's death, Luc returns to France to find his family, and Beatrice must choose between him and a nobleman. This fine historical novel is set in a place and time that is not commonly explored.--Lisa Crandall, Capital Area District Library, Holt, MI

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