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Read Elske (2003)

Elske (2003)

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3.84 of 5 Votes: 5
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0689864388 (ISBN13: 9780689864384)
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Elske (2003) - Plot & Excerpts

To be clear, Elske is the fourth book in Cynthia Voigt's loosely tied together series called The Kingdom. The other three (Jackaroo, Wings of a Falcon and On Fortune's Wheel) are all set in the Kingdom that Beriel hails from, while Elske is set in Trastad, a small country to the north of The Kingdom. You don't need prior knowledge of the other books, except perhaps to understand the truth behind the 'legends' that Beriel mentions. The legend of Jackaroo for instance is covered in depth in the book of the same name, while some of Beriel's ancestors are covered in On Fortune's Wheel.This can be a little dark at times with some of the subject matter. Elske's people, the Volkaric (Wolfers) are a barbaric, primitive people who live to eat, plunder and worship their leader the Volkking. The only place a woman has is to satisfy their needs--whatever they happen to be. Her grandmother however was from the South and was resigned to her fate, Elske was her joy and treasure. When she was chosen as the Death Maiden, to be a sacrifice for the Volkking's Death, something snapped. Idle no longer she schemed to save Elske and in doing so get the revenge she should have sought years ago.And thus does our story start. Mirkele (Elske's grandmother) is preparing Elske to run away, and Elske (barely thirteen years old) stoically faces her newfound freedom. By chance she happens upon Tavyan and his sons as they traveled home and by chance she became Beriel's handmaiden. Two exiled souls in a city that alternately reviled them and tormented them. Beriel's story is also a sad, dark tale we don't learn for many chapters, but suffice to say they both needed each other greatly.I love this book, I have ever since reading it in college that idle tuesday afternoon. It's a very different fantasy from what I was used to at the time (there's no magic or monsters), but captivated me with its thoughtful plotting and pace. At its core Elske is about two girls who were cut off from everyone and everything they understood, who band together to grant their hearts' desires. This isn't a fast book or flashy book, its not horrifically violent or filled with drama. Like many of Voigt's other books its a character study.The book itself covers roughly three years altogether (with an epilogue discussing the after effects), charting the progress of Elske as she learns to adapt to her new life and Beriel as she plots to take back her throne. Beriel isn't an easy person to get along with--she's short tempered, vindictive and can be very cruel. A lot of her ire turns on Elske herself--you always hurt the one you love most right?--but Elske is the perfect target almost. Raised by people far more cruel and heartless then Beriel, she stoically takes what Beriel lashes out at her and then carefully helps her pick up the pieces.This is dramatic storytelling at its best in my opinion--proving that sometimes the one with the quietest voice is the one with the most to say.

I first read this in 2003, after learning it was a conclusion to one of my favorite series as a teenager. The genre is fantasy only in the made-up medieval "Kingdom" setting; think wooded journeys and Robin Hood figures, and that's what I loved it for. I reread this now because I wanted to give it as a gift to Amy, and I was curious to revisit its themes. The first time, I was stunned by it being one of the most overtly feminist novels I'd ever read -- and for teenagers.It is, producing not one but two girl characters written in a shamelessly feminist way, in a story whose purpose is to explore the influence of gender customs on societies and have them surpassed. It compares a few extremes and degrees, and how independently thinking girls are challenged in all unless they shape change. The characters speak plainly about rape in many contexts. In the accepted gender dialogue, simply sharing these ideas without softening them is radical itself.I mean, mostly it's an adventure story for Elske, who has to escape her explicitly barbaric society first for one that is happier but just as explicitly conservative. I know these two examples are key to the author's ideas, but I find the story gets extremely better once Elske finally meets Beriel, and the two girls get to interact. Beriel's secret is amazing, and both girls eventually get to lead heroic retribution at the climax.In particular, I like how Elske breaks the mold with everyone she meets, but in a way that is often unwelcome or dangerous. She ends up earning respect for her unique stature, but she does not ever change anyone's mind. She's not a "magical woman" character, the upbeat type that heals everyone with her unconventional impulses and charm. (It works perfectly for Mary Poppins, but is pretty tired by now.) Elske is serious and practical within a variety of rigid groups, each of which would restrict her if she didn't prefer to act as an individual. It's not easy to be that person.I would give this book to every teen reader. Even in the few places it lags as a novel, its effortless portrayal of girls who will not sacrifice themselves is the most valuable moral for any story.

What do You think about Elske (2003)?

I didn't realize this was the fourth book in a series, until I came to Goodreads to add it. So, I guess that means that, for the most part, the story stands by itself well enough. There were some references to Jackaroo at the end that rather puzzled me - and now that I know that the first book in the series was called Jackaroo, that makes a bit more sense. The book drew me in with the character of Elske. Beriel, on the other hand, mostly annoyed me. In some ways, the story reminds me of the books by Tamora Pierce and other historical fantasy books. One of the things that especially intrigues me about books like this is that they are often accompanied by maps of the various lands. For some reason, I really enjoy this. Maybe, if I ever try to write a story myself, I should start by drawing a map.

Gosh, I love Cynthia Voigt's books so much...and I just didn't like this one. I don't think this is her genre--it's like a Conan the Barbarian fantasy complete with made up peoples and made up places. Heroic fantasy, is that what they call it? The heroine, Elske, starts the story as the Death Maiden attending at the king's funeral. It's her job to be raped by all the king's top-ranked warriors, then be buried with the king to serve him in the afterlife. What kind of servant that might make her is never to be explained, but I bet it's not one the king's going to enjoy.Needless to say the story goes on after that, so there's not a lot of suspense about it. There's not a lot of suspense anywhere, and the fighting scenes are blah and even the human emotional encounters--Ms. Voigt's specialty--left me unexcited.Sorry. Maybe it's me.
—Cindy Dyson Eitelman

I picked up the copy from my library and it depicts a girl being eaten by a wolf on the cover which is much more suiting than this cover.....actually that is what drew me to this book. anyway I had no idea this was a series until I looked at it this morning. As a stand alone book this one is quite good. It starts out in black and white with a lot of darkness. as the story progresses the story of Elske comes to life. Recommended for those over 12 and those who just enjoy a tale or two.Age recommendation due to content (rape - is mentioned and discussed)

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