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“Small minds are conquered by misfortunes; great minds rise above them,” Saying of the Ancients. –The Spinner Prince
The Spinner Prince
Pride Wars #1
by Matt Laney
Prince Leo is next in line for the throne of Singara, a land ruled by super-evolved felines. As a thirteen-year-old, Leo is small for his age. But like all thirteen-year-olds, Leo must prove his worth by hunting a deadly beast called a slaycon. If Leo kills the beast, he will still face many obstacles, including keeping his uncle from taking the thrown. Leo’s uncle will stop at nothing to gain power and control. And once he does, he will invade the neighboring pride.
In Singara, all fiction is outlawed and anyone who tells a story is exiled. Leo must hide the fact that he is a Spinner. Leo has been taught that, “Spinners are cursed with a dangerous disease officially known as the fiction affliction or story sickness, which causes them to spew fiction without warning.” When Leo tells stories, they come alive in visions. After Leo tells a story, one character is left behind. Leo can make the character disappear or he can bring them into his world. Each character wants to help Leo, but Leo just wants them to go away.
The future of Singara is in Leo’s hands. Can he conceal his curse, claim the throne, and protect his realm? Or will he embrace his power and discover a far greater destiny?
Leo’s adventure will take readers into an interesting world where felines consider fiction to be poisonous to the mind. The pride values strength, tradition, and science. Even though Leo’s grandfather has declared Leo the heir to the throne, some of the pride believe Leo’s uncle should be king because Leo’s father is unknown. Much like the Lion King, The Spinner Prince is a story about political unrest, friendship, and fighting evil.
Leo tells his own story which allows readers to understand his fears and concerns. While Leo has a good heart, he often makes unwise decisions. However, along the way, Leo learns the importance of relying on and trusting others. Each member of Leo’s group must work together if they are to succeed in stopping the war.
The Spinner Prince isn’t only a story about Leo. Because Leo is a Spinner, he often recites stories that are based on folktales from many cultures and traditions. However, readers who are familiar with the Bible will recognize the parallels. Each chapter begins with Sayings of the Ancients, which give a piece of wisdom, such as, “You make yourself by the choices you make.”
The Spinner Prince is full of action, intrigue, and interesting characters. Both Leo and the reader will wonder who can be trusted. Although the story is interesting, the complicated plot and large cast of characters make The Spinner Prince best for strong readers. As Leo learns untold truths, he will begin questioning his societies’ beliefs. A wise shepherd tells Leo, “It is hard to be a Spinner. It is much worse to hate yourself for it. We have been raised to view ourselves as afflicted instead of gifted, but that is just another lie we Singas tell.”
- Leo is hiding the fact that he is a Spinner because “if the disease is proven, Spinners get banished and live among the exiles on the other side of the Great Mountain, right after having their tongues cut out of their heads and nailed to a post in the city.”
- As a rite of passage, Leo must kill a slaycon before the slaycon kills him. The hunt is described over 17 pages.
- When Leo sees the slaycon, Storm, he uses a slingshot to throw a stone. “The stone sails across the water and pounds the brute in the snout. . . Storm recoils and whimpers with the impact. He shakes his head, snarls, and charges straight into the river.”
- Strom struggles to cross the river. Leo believes he can slay Storm, but when he approaches the slaycon, “His tail blurs and I’m knocked off my feet. The blade flies from my hand. I hit the ground and roll away while Storm springs to his feet. . .” Leo runs and Strom falls behind.
- Leo pretends to be injured and writhes. When Storm pounces, Leo loops “the bag over his head, yanking it all the way up to their ears, and pulling the drawstring. . .I reach for my dagger as Storm’s tail sweeps the ground and flings my legs out from under me. . . I land in a heap and scamper on all fours like a panicky insect to my blade.”
- While Storm’s head is caught in the bag, Leo hesitates to kill him. When Storm gets the bag off of his head, he “charges, preparing to bite. I [Leo] dodge and my blade lands behind his head, lopping off an ear as I roll to the ground. . . Strom howls, spins, and leaps. I dive under him and land a decent slice to his underside and another to his right back foot. Blood squirts into my face and torso.” Then, Leo climbs into a tree.
- Leo uses his sling to shoot at Storm. “The pellet vanishes into the tunnel of Storm’s throat. However, Storm is too focused on my foot to notice or care. His mouth does not close. Instead it reaches higher, mouth agape, pushing himself on his tail. His jaws snap, and I feel teeth puncturing my right leg.” Leo goes numb and falls from the tree.
- During a meal to celebrate Leo as the official heir to the throne, his cousin Tamir makes a scene. A soldier, Kayden, “hisses and thumps Tamir on the side of the head, raking his face with extended claws. Tamir makes no effort to defend himself, and the blow sends him staggering to his knees. . . Kayden hits him again with such force, I want to look away. Another blow follows. And another.” Leo’s grandfather orders Tamir to be killed, but Leo steps in. Tamir’s tail is cut off and he is thrown in prison.
- When Leo gets to the academy, he must walk in the middle of two lines of cadets. As Leo walks, a cadet “huffs a little roar and thrust her blade at my head. I instinctively dodge the attack, and a cadet from the opposite line sweeps my leg, sending me crashing to the ground. . . The next cadet comes at me with his blade, this time a jab to my ribs. I bend my body around the blade, and a different cadet from the opposite line once again sweeps my leg and drops me.” After being hit, Leo closes his eyes and continues the walk. He can feel “a breeze pass over my muzzle. With another step, a blade whistles behind my head and down my back.” He makes it through the line uninjured.
- During a practice battle, “Zoya and 10-2 square off. The brawny 10-2 surges forward, plowing into Zoya’s middle and forcing her down. He backflips over Zoya, but Zoya locks her hind legs around 10-2’s waist and uses their combined momentum to launch herself upright and on top of 10-2. Zoya slams 10-2 to the ground, sits on his torso, and bashes him in the head with one fist, knocking him momentarily senseless.” Leo steps in to help and conjures Rukan, who “snatches me up in his great mouth. With a flick of his head, Rukan launches me into the crowd. . . Rukan snatches her [Amara] in midair between his teeth and flings her aside. She too crashes into the crowd.” The cadets attack Rukan, who runs away. The scene is described over eight pages.
- During feeding time, Leo’s cousin, Amara, approaches Leo. “Her claws sink into my pelt, causing me to wince and tremble.” Zoya sticks up for Leo and “tackles Amara, and pulls her to the floor. Amara kicks and screeches, but without success. Zoya has her pinned to the floor. . .Then we are all on our feet, lashing out like wild animals defending their last scrap of territory.” Leo’s friends are getting “pummeled.” The cadets fight until the Alpha stops them. The scene is described over three pages.
- While leaving the academy, Leo and his squadron are taken through a mountain tunnel, where giant leeches live. “The slimy wretches circle around Stick’s and Zoya’s feet, then latch on to the legs of my karkadann. He rears up and kicks.” Anjali tries to hack off the leeches and “drives a blade point into the head of a leech. . . the skewered creature squeals and twists under the blade.”
- In order to repel the leeches, Leo rubs their blood over his pelt. Someone “snatches the tail end of the nearest one, lifts it high with one hand, and plunges her blade deep into its wriggling body.” The leeches are held over Leo’s head and, “Hot sticky blood spills onto my head and shoulders.” The leech scene is described over three pages.
- A group of soldiers surrounds Leo and his friends. In order to escape, Leo summons a draycon, who “leaps at the soldiers and knocks five of them off their feet with one swat of his tail.” Leo and his friends flee, but they tell the draycon, “Make sure those soldiers stay far away from here.”
- While riding in a carriage, soldiers try to take Leo and his grandfather hostage. Leo uses a trap door to get out of the carriage. When the soldiers see him, they shoot arrows. “The first arrow zings harmlessly overhead. The second implants itself in the rump of one Karkadann. He screeches and quickens his pace, forcing his partner to keep up.” Leo is the only one that escapes.
Drugs and Alcohol
- Someone gave Leo a pellet that would mask Leo’s scent. Leo discovers that the pellet was poison.
- Someone calls Leo a “royal bastard” because no one knows how his father is.
- One of the cadets tells Leo, “Prince of not, you have to watch your step with Jakal and Alpha. If you cross them, they will put a foot so far up your dirt hole, you will cough out a big toe.”
- Being a Spinner is considered a disease. A Spinner is compelled to tell stories. When they are telling the story, a vision appears that only the Spinner can see. When the story ends, “a character or creature is always left behind when the disease hits me. These beings are faded, ghostly, and freakish.” Leo tries to hide the fact that he is a Spinner, but he often has these visions. When a character from the vision appears, Leo can talk to them.
- Leo learns that Spinners “are gateways to and from another world. The fictions are gifts from Alayah, sent through Spinners, gifts of wisdom and truth. For a few powerful Spinners, beings from the stories are pulled into our world to protect and serve the one who brought them here.”
- Leo has a vision of a great hunter. He describes it as a “three-sixty waking dream.” The story of a hunter is described over two pages. When the story ends, the hunter is “in the halfway state: ghostly, phantasmal. I can almost look through him. . .”
- Leo can summon the characters from his stories. During the slaycon hunt, Leo summons a hunter, Oreyon. “When Oreyon appears, he is no longer a phantom, a quasi-physical apparition. He is real. Vivid. Solid. Completely in the world.” Oreyon gives Leo advice on how to win the hunt.
- When Leo is bitten by the slaycon, he dies. Leo meets Daviyah the “Eleventh Skahyah in your world.” While there, Leo thinks, “We Singas don’t believe anything goes on after death. When you die, that’s it. You’re done.” Daviyah explains, “What you call death is only a door. You have crossed the threshold of that door, but you cannot stay.” When Leo returns to his body, Daviyah tells him, “I am always with you.”
- During a story, a sage appears and “wraps her hands around my [Leo’s] wound and mumbles strange words. I tremble. . .” Because of the sage, Leo’s wound heals quickly.
- Grandfather tells Leo about the great war. One of the Maguar was “in some sort of a trance, and yet he spoke with a commanding voice. . .As he spoke, a horde of beasts appeared, slaycon and draycon, giant wolves and bears, serpents as wide as this carriage, and other horrible monsters unknown to the earth.” The creatures attacked the Singa and the “battlefield was awash in blood and covered with bodies of Singas and Maguar alike, though the casualties were heavier on our side. We lost many, many fine warriors in the effort. . .”
- When Zoya breaks her leg, Leo conjures up a healer. “Instantly, Vishna appears at my side. Without glancing at me, the strange elder squats down and lays her hands on Zoya’s damaged leg. She mutters something in the Old Language.” After healing Zoya’s leg, Vishna leaves.
- Leo sends the characters from his stories back to where they came from. “Where I would normally find my chest and stomach, there is a patch of blue sky and that glorious light spinning over an infinite sea. Countless winged beings soar and swirl around the light, singing with joy.” One by one, the fictions walk into Leo “disappearing in a flash of light. . . Each creature departs with a flash as it dives into me.” Once every fiction has returned, Daviyah says, “I am proud of you. Alayah is pleased with you.” The scene is described over five pages.
- The Singa and the Maguar are enemies. Leo has never met a Maguar, but he has been told, “They are a superstitious breed, head so full of stories and fantasies about their gods, they wouldn’t recognize a scientific fact if it bit them on the nose . . . Consider the sun. The Maguar believe the sun is a servant of their god, which flies around our planet every day. What nonsense!”
- The Singa find a hole in a border fence. Leo’s grandfather is afraid that the Maguar will attack. Leo’s grandfather says, “Perhaps their make-believe god has spoken or they have invented a new fiction about the future.”
- Leo meets a shepherd who can speak the “Old Language.” The shepherd sings “a song of praise to Alayah, blessed be the name.” The shepherd explains the song, “Alayah is known by many different titles. . . One of them is the Lord of Lights. . . We come from the light and we return to the light. A beautiful image, don’t you think?”
- Leo learns the meaning of faith. An elder tells him, “Faith is a special kind of knowing outside of the evidence, sometimes even contrary to the evidence.”
- A shepherd tells a story about when humans ruled the earth. Humans “were violent. Greed, bloodshed, and war were common. In time, all the spilled blood flowed like rivers and formed one big pool. Drawn to the scent of salty blood, the great and horrible sea demon, Hasatamara, rose up with a mighty wave and flooded the land to claim it for himself. . . But Alayah, blessed be thy name, punished the sea demon Hasatamara and sealed him into the heart of the mountain.” Alayah saved two humans, who were changed into a new species.
- The firewing is a messenger of Alayah.
- The shepherd sings “a prayer of thanks to Alayah for the return of the sun.”