Title: The Marvelous Misadventures of Sebastian
Author: Lloyd Alexander
Publication Date: July 1, 2000 (first published 1970)
Genre/themes: Adventure, Middle Grade
Source: From my bookshelf
Series?: No this is a standalone.
You can add this book to Goodreads by clicking the cover.
When fourth fiddler Sebastian loses his place in the Baron’s orchestra, he has to leave the only home he knows—which turns out to be the least of his troubles. He rescues a stray cat from a group of tormentors, who then smash his precious violin; and the troubled young boy he tries to help turns out to be the Crown Princess, on the run from an arranged marriage. Sebastian, Princess Isabel, and Presto the cat soon find themselves fleeing stuffy officials, hired assassins, furious guardsmen and sentries—and, in their journey, find out what is truly important in life. The action and humor never stop in Lloyd Alexander’s classic novel, written on the heels of his famed Prydain Chronicles.
I read this book for a personal challenge: to read all the nominees + winner of the 1971 Mythopoeic Fantasty Awards.
First of all, I don’t really consider this book to be fantasy. The only reason that I read it as such is that is shelved like that on Goodreads and that it has won a fantasy award. There is no fantasy element in this book. Yes, the setting is fictitious but the rest could all have happened in the past. There is not really a genre where to put this in. It therefore does not make a whole lot of sense why it was nominated for a fantasy award.
This book felt very standard. It was just a boy going on a adventure. Not even a particularly exciting adventure because most of the things that could have been exciting where already given away in the blurb. The blurb above is a different blurb that the one on my copy and luckily is much less revealing. Then there were also the chapter title. I could’ve just read those and be done with it.
The third thing thing that did not make sense was the age of the main character Sebastian. I have now clue. He could’ve been 8 or 18, there was just no way of knowing. It doesn’t help that this book is shelved as both young adult and middle grade on Goodreads, so there are others who don’t know. Judging to a lack of depth in the story line and the shortness of the book, just 200 pages, I would say Middle Grade. But still, very weird that the didn’t tell me how old Sebastian was.
The writing is just okay. It is not very simplistic, not very elegant either. Just s0-so. The use of language was something entirely different though. One of the characters was princess and she spoke as if she had shallowed a thesaurus. I do have a good understanding of English, although a native speaker, but that was just weird. I know it was meant to show the difference in social class but Lloyd Alexander went a bit over the top. It wasn’t only the princess though. At times he threw in words like retorted, bashful, hawked, stout. I know that these words are not that difficult, but when this book is in fact meant for Middle Graders, he might have made it a little bit more accessible. Or did Middle Graders have that level of proficiency in the 70s?
Besides all of this it was still enjoyable and I certainly think that young boys, will have fun with Sebastian on his adventures. I certainly want to read more by Lloyd Alexander, because although not really swept away by this one I’ve heard great things about his Prydain Chronicles. Not worth to buy, but if you see it in your library and you want to read something sweet, perhaps give it a whirl. Oh and don’t read the blurb! 3 stars for The Marvelous Misadventures of Sebastian.