Book Review: A Kingdom Far and Clear

WARNING: What you are about to read is, in fact, a dadblame regular book review. You see, the professor loves this book to death, so the ripping of it might cause him repulsion. Onward, then!

A KINGDOM FAR AND CLEAR–THE COMPLETE SWAN LAKE TRILOGY by MARK HELPRIN

DSC00222I know this is a bit different from the normal routine of ripping books until they’re dead, but…this novel deserves respect, I think.

The Kingdom Far and Clear is composed of three novellas that each tell the gripping story of a young girl who was displaced from the throne by the horribly devious, scarily deformed “Usurper.”

Now that is horribly frightening!

Each of the three novellas is told from a different perspective. Helprin creates amazing imagery with his prose. (It can be considered too flowery at times, though, and has been known to induce a headache in the professor’s case.)

Once, the mountains held within their silvered walls a forest so high and so gracefully forgotten that it rode above the troubles of the world as easily as the blinding white clouds that sometimes catch on the jagged peaks and musically unfurl.

At the time of reading, the professor was quite curious about the “gracefully forgotten” part. It does stagger the imagination, doesn’t it?

There is a lingering sadness in each of the stories that is buffered by a thread of hope. A perfect example of a modern “Fairy Tale,” that is as suitable to adults as well as to children, A Kingdom Far and Clear is a haunting read that will stay with you long after you’ve read the last word.

One of things the professor found remarkable about the book is the “sad humor” throughout. (We really must have a discussion about “sad humor” some day. Definitely a professorish topic.)

So, the professor highly recommends it.

Now, there is one rippable part.

It’s the dedication.

I’m almost sure that the professor should be in there somewhere, for I must be the book’s greatest fan!

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105 Responses to “Book Review: A Kingdom Far and Clear”


  1. 1 Susan P December 18, 2013 at 00:26

    Santa said I’ve been good, so he talked to Amazon and I will have my own trilogy. : )

    • 2 Professor VJ Duke December 18, 2013 at 13:43

      :D Really? Cool! You must let me know what you think!!!

      • 3 Susan P December 18, 2013 at 14:49

        I shall do that, Professor.

      • 4 Professor VJ Duke December 18, 2013 at 21:49

        Awesome!!!

      • 5 Susan P December 19, 2013 at 02:22

        :)

      • 6 Professor VJ Duke December 19, 2013 at 14:42

        :)

  2. 7 FictionFan November 15, 2013 at 02:39

    OK, but I fear she may say yes…

    Very seldom…I value my life…

    • 8 Professor VJ Duke November 15, 2013 at 16:44

      Oh she wouldn’t!

      :lol: BUS is intimidating it seems.

      • 9 FictionFan November 15, 2013 at 17:03

        She is unpredictable, remember…

        Put it this way – I’m the sweet one in the family… ;)

      • 10 Professor VJ Duke November 15, 2013 at 20:42

        Yes, yes. Will be interesting. I want to see if she’s violent.

        The professor knew as much after reading your brother’s comment!

  3. 11 zachwcarpenter November 10, 2013 at 05:18

    Great review. I might give this series a good read. I appreciated the explanation of the “Sad Humor.” That is an interesting aspect to look at as you read this book. Thanks for your review.

    • 12 Professor VJ Duke November 10, 2013 at 19:32

      Many thanks! It was quite an interest. You see, the professor had never supposed a thing like “Sad Humor” even existed. I think you’ll really enjoy them. Let me know what you think!

  4. 13 xoxosanaz90210 November 6, 2013 at 21:10

    It is different from what you usually do write on. While reading that excerpt from the book, I had this thought that this sounds just like the punchy lands :D the professor must describe it. (curious)

    • 14 Professor VJ Duke November 6, 2013 at 23:01

      It is reminiscent of the PL in a way. Good point! What would you like the professor to describe?

      • 15 xoxosanaz90210 November 7, 2013 at 18:36

        The professor must decide exactly because he knows all the secrets of PL better than me. Really just the description of the PL environment a little. Also the secrets :D

      • 16 Professor VJ Duke November 7, 2013 at 18:45

        Okay, the professor will work on a post that describes the PL and says what it’s about, just for you! How’s that?

      • 17 xoxosanaz90210 November 8, 2013 at 03:12

        That sounds wonderful!! Thank you. :D

      • 18 Professor VJ Duke November 8, 2013 at 13:04

        No problem! Hope it turns out well.

  5. 19 Painting Pundit November 6, 2013 at 00:29

    Would like to know more about the “sad humor.”

    • 20 Professor VJ Duke November 6, 2013 at 02:09

      Well, the whole book is sad in a way–even the humor. Does that help a bit? Are you going to read it?

      • 21 Painting Pundit November 6, 2013 at 02:21

        That helps, thanks! It’s one I have planned in the past and never got around to reading. Might possibly if the time allows.

      • 22 Professor VJ Duke November 6, 2013 at 12:44

        Oh yes, definitely do! (Now the professor is sounding like Schwarz.) It’s a great read around winter time.

  6. 23 Susan P November 5, 2013 at 23:14

    Beautifully executed, Professor. It feels like a book I should read. :D

    • 24 Professor VJ Duke November 5, 2013 at 23:46

      Definitely, Susan! It’s not vexing at all. There’s wit and sad humor–have I mentioned that?

      • 25 Susan P November 6, 2013 at 00:12

        You might have…but some things can stand to be mentioned more than once.

      • 26 Professor VJ Duke November 6, 2013 at 02:09

        Very true. It definitely helps this professorish mind.

      • 27 Susan P November 6, 2013 at 13:55

        Elaborate on what exactly a professorish mind is like, please. :D

      • 28 Professor VJ Duke November 6, 2013 at 17:08

        It’s a whirlpool of sorts. Doesn’t that seem right?

      • 29 Susan P November 6, 2013 at 17:43

        That sounds about right, Professor. Hmmm…

      • 30 Professor VJ Duke November 6, 2013 at 19:32

        :lol: And there’s nothing that can be done about it.

      • 31 Susan P November 6, 2013 at 20:27

        I’m glad to know that.

      • 32 Professor VJ Duke November 6, 2013 at 22:58

        :D

      • 33 Susan P November 6, 2013 at 14:05

        My library system has some of Helprin’s books but not this trilogy. I discovered that it is a relatively new book, and Amazon only has it in hardback. I will need to do some finagling.

      • 34 Professor VJ Duke November 6, 2013 at 17:08

        It is fairly new! (The professor is honored that you’re going to read it.)

      • 35 Susan P November 6, 2013 at 17:45

        I like fantasy/fairytales/speculative fiction…and books. Yes, I like books. Immensely.

      • 36 Professor VJ Duke November 6, 2013 at 19:34

        So does the professor. (He only rips the ones that want it.)

      • 37 Susan P November 6, 2013 at 20:25

        Are you saying they ask for it?

      • 38 Professor VJ Duke November 6, 2013 at 22:57

        Yes!

      • 39 Susan P November 6, 2013 at 17:44

        Well, I don’t know much about it other than it is the same author. I did put in a request to the library about purchasing your book.

      • 40 Professor VJ Duke November 6, 2013 at 19:33

        Aw, thanks!!! You’ll have to let me know how this other one is.

      • 41 Susan P November 6, 2013 at 20:28

        I shall. It appears that he write non-fiction as well.

      • 42 Professor VJ Duke November 6, 2013 at 22:58

        The professor has just discovered that hiself!

      • 43 Susan P November 7, 2013 at 00:29

        Woot!

      • 44 Professor VJ Duke November 7, 2013 at 02:22

        Chicky-woot-woot!

      • 45 Susan P November 7, 2013 at 02:46

        :D

      • 46 Professor VJ Duke November 7, 2013 at 13:01

        :cool:

    • 47 Susan P November 6, 2013 at 14:09

      I have, in the meanwhile, reserved In Sunlight and in Shadow.

      • 48 Professor VJ Duke November 6, 2013 at 17:08

        The professor never read it. Does it look good?

  7. 49 ladycheetah7 November 5, 2013 at 22:55

    Nicely done. I would love to add it to my list but I have a slew of fiction novels that I have yet to put a dent in. The cover looks inviting and seems like it is from a time period I would enjoy reading.

    • 50 Professor VJ Duke November 5, 2013 at 23:46

      You must add it to your TBR pile, though. I do think you’d like it. (Out of curiosity, what novels are you about to read?)

      • 51 ladycheetah7 November 5, 2013 at 23:51

        I am still working on Steve Berry novels. John Grisham, James Patterson, along the lines of court room thrillers. There were a few more ie Hunger Games and I am looking to pick up a few by Phillippa writer of the Boelyn Girls. Now that was scandalous!

      • 52 Professor VJ Duke November 6, 2013 at 00:01

        Goodness you are booked–literally! Well, definitely put A Kingdom on the list, right?

      • 53 ladycheetah7 November 6, 2013 at 00:07

        I am. Earlier this year my goal was to build a small library and I went to Half Price books and had a GREAT DEAL. Some books were as cheap as a dollar so I stacked up so I wouldn’t have to make many book trips. If you don’t mind send the name and author to me via email so that way I can have a reminder. Otherwise if I write it down I will loose it.

      • 54 Professor VJ Duke November 6, 2013 at 02:06

        The professor will definitely shoot you an email tomorrow.

  8. 55 The Dancing Rider November 5, 2013 at 21:48

    I found the “gracefully forgotten” odd! However, this sounds like an interesting book. Which is a compliment on your review, Professor. I have never heard of this book. It made me think of Shangri La for some reason!

    • 56 Professor VJ Duke November 5, 2013 at 23:40

      It twas odd! Thank you! Do you think you may try and read it? I think the connection you made is brilliant, btw.

      • 57 The Dancing Rider November 6, 2013 at 14:22

        I am not sure. Usually older writing styles, and especially off-and-on florid riffs, are not appealing to me. However, I am at least going to look it up…..and we shall see! :)

      • 58 Professor VJ Duke November 6, 2013 at 17:14

        Well, let the professor know either way. He’ll be only slightly angry if you decide not to read it. ;) Though it is a fairly new book.

      • 59 The Dancing Rider November 6, 2013 at 22:27

        Oh I like that, only “slightly” angry!!!!! ;-) I will check it out!

      • 60 Professor VJ Duke November 6, 2013 at 23:03

        :lol: Awesome!

  9. 61 Douglas Patten November 5, 2013 at 18:39

    Love the review Professor! I’ve been looking for something new to read that doesn’t send me into….*yawn*…zzzzzz….

    Definitely going to check this one out based on your recommendation alone. Is it something that would be okay to read aloud to my children?

    • 62 Professor VJ Duke November 5, 2013 at 20:06

      Many thanks, sir! Oh, this will be quite an interesting read.

      The professor is honored. :) Absolutely. They’ll probably enjoy it just as much as you will. Let me know what you think!

  10. 63 sonya solomonovich November 5, 2013 at 17:53

    Sounds interesting! I shall add it to my wish list. The prose here reminds me of “The Last Unicorn,” which is one of my favorite books ever.

    • 64 Professor VJ Duke November 5, 2013 at 18:06

      You should review “The Last Unicorn”. Sounds neat.

      I think you’d enjoy this book. Great for a Swashbuckler.

      • 65 sonya solomonovich November 6, 2013 at 20:57

        Good idea! I tend to stay away from reviewing older books because they’ve been reviewed a million times already, but then again, my review would be a unique take on it, so why not?

        Yes, it does look swashbuckly! :D And I’m curious about “sad humour” I can’t quite picture it!

      • 66 Professor VJ Duke November 6, 2013 at 22:59

        It would be a great take, I’m sure, and the professor would love to see it!

        It’s a humdinger, for sure! I challenge you to try it. :)

  11. 67 Hazy November 5, 2013 at 16:17

    I wish I could forget gracefully… I think I can only forget sheepishly and apologetically.

    A very nicely written review, professor! Interesting premise. I think I shall add this title to my want-to-read list.

    Does it have a sad ending? I hope not, or at least not too sad.

    • 68 Professor VJ Duke November 5, 2013 at 16:39

      :lol: The professor is the exact same way!

      Thank you! I hope you do read it, and then write a review!

      Well, yes and no. Mingled with hope. :)

      • 69 Hazy November 7, 2013 at 15:37

        :lol:

        I hope so too. I’ll ask Weatherly to help me look for it.

        So I guess it won’t be too sad… Hope is good!

      • 70 Professor VJ Duke November 7, 2013 at 16:46

        It is good! The book is…simply wonderful.

      • 71 Hazy November 10, 2013 at 13:13

        Did you have any favorite parts or characters or chapters?

      • 72 Professor VJ Duke November 10, 2013 at 19:47

        Oh yes! There are two generals who are great fun. I really can’t say much more without ruining the story, and the main character–she’s awesome.

        There are some parts which made this professor chuckle, but overall it’s not a funny book. A great read. Will stay with you long after you read it!

      • 73 Hazy November 11, 2013 at 15:23

        Very interesting. Now I’m even more curious about the book!

      • 74 Professor VJ Duke November 11, 2013 at 18:32

        That’s great! It’ll make you read it! :D

  12. 75 Oldest Daughter Redheaded Sister November 5, 2013 at 14:32

    I will take great care in reading this novel. Oh my, sad humor is one I don’t encounter often. Staggered imagination, over here already.

    • 76 Professor VJ Duke November 5, 2013 at 16:31

      I think you’d enjoy the “underlying threads” throughout the work. You must tell me what you think in the end.

      Does the professor have a staggered imagination?

      • 77 Oldest Daughter Redheaded Sister November 5, 2013 at 20:34

        I will keep you posted. I have to finish this dreadfully boring book for Thursday night’s book club. Talk about a riping review. What the hype is over this book I will never understand. I’m sure the author spent a lot of time with it and must be proud, but it isn’t for me. (The Light Between Oceans) Book Club isn’t fun when I don’t get to choose the book, unless the professor is chosing that is. :)

        Oh, I don’t know. Yes, you have a staggered imagination, but not a staggered belief system. Although, you have surprised me with some of your posts. You have many layers, I’d say. I do believe it would take some effort to change your strong opinions. I think some may see through all your smiling faces.

      • 78 Professor VJ Duke November 5, 2013 at 23:39

        Yes, do! What’s the book? The professor would be thrilled to rip it for you. :D Your club should read Robin Hood, I think. Great book.

        Which posts would you say were surprising? The professor is also a curios beast. What strong opinions, pray?

      • 79 Oldest Daughter Redheaded Sister November 7, 2013 at 15:00

        I would be honored to have you rip that book apart for me, how civerious of you. However, I fear it isn’t professorish enough for you, Duke. The Light Between Oceans (or whatever it is called) would bore you.

        Robin Hood, be still my heart. A favorite of mine, yet I think you already knew this…

        But to tell you would be the easy part. Strong opinions on coffee and snakes, of course. ;)

      • 80 Professor VJ Duke November 7, 2013 at 16:41

        Oh, it can’t be all that bad! (I looked at it. It seems very rippable, however!)

        I did not! The professor loves Robin Hood!

        The professor could–could, mind you–be a bit strange. But we all doubt it highly.

      • 81 Oldest Daughter Redheaded Sister November 7, 2013 at 16:53

        Not all, it seems.

        How cool is that!

        Oh, yes, I am sure.

      • 82 Professor VJ Duke November 7, 2013 at 16:56

        Very cool!

        :D

      • 83 Oldest Daughter Redheaded Sister November 7, 2013 at 20:07

        You really should call me on my misspellings. (I really shouldn’t try typing on my phone.)

      • 84 Professor VJ Duke November 7, 2013 at 20:15

        The professor didn’t notice any, actually. (He’s notorious for misspelling himself!)

  13. 85 L. Marie November 5, 2013 at 14:08

    I promptly added this to my wish list. It sounds delightful. I love books combining sadness and hope.

    • 86 Andy November 5, 2013 at 16:04

      Me too.

      • 87 Professor VJ Duke November 5, 2013 at 16:38

        Very great! I think you’ll like, Andy. It’s not at all professorish.

    • 88 Professor VJ Duke November 5, 2013 at 16:28

      Awesome! I think you’ll really like it. Mark does great with the fantasy element.

  14. 89 FictionFan November 5, 2013 at 14:03

    Great review – and what a pleasure to see a book being praised! (I will resist the temptation to read and rip it …though I may add it to my TBR.) My favourite sentence – ‘There is a lingering sadness in each of the stories that is buffered by a thread of hope.’

    I rather like the ‘gracefully forgotten’ forest – very evocative.

    • 90 Professor VJ Duke November 5, 2013 at 16:27

      :D Still, FEF is the master, though. While writing, I was trying to think how FEF would say it! ;) Thank you!

      So, did you know about this book?

      Maybe you would really enjoy it. He’s extremely creative.

      • 91 FictionFan November 5, 2013 at 17:12

        :D It was still beautifully Professorish though, thankfully. The world doesn’t need any more boringly normal book reviews, I feel!

        No, never heard of it, but it does sound interesting…is this the Professor trying to add to my TBR? So unfair… ;)

      • 92 Professor VJ Duke November 5, 2013 at 18:00

        Are you calling your reviews boring? As I was reading the Christmas Carol review today, I was in awe–truly! How you tie themes together, express your thoughts. Very well done.

        Yes, I am. You see, the professor really respects FEF’s opinion. You’ve read so much! (Get BUS to read it too!)

      • 93 FictionFan November 5, 2013 at 19:15

        Well, thank you! :D

        I’ll add it to my list…but it may be a while. Still haven’t got around to Huck Finn… It’s ironic really that you keep adding to my TBR…

        (BUS may well have read it – it actually sounds more like the kind of thing she would normally read than me.)

      • 94 Professor VJ Duke November 5, 2013 at 20:07

        I’m really sorry. (You should read this over Huck Finn and Innocents.)

        (I wonder if she has!)

      • 95 FictionFan November 5, 2013 at 22:11

        Goodness! Better than Twain, eh? It must be spectacular…

        I’ll try to remember to ask her.

      • 96 Professor VJ Duke November 5, 2013 at 23:42

        It’s not necessarily better. I’m really not sure if you’ll like it, ’cause you don’t like fantasy. But then you like HP, so you just might enjoy it.

        Definitely let me know!

      • 97 FictionFan November 6, 2013 at 01:36

        I’m not sure if I will either, but I’ll try to keep an open mind. Erm..but don’t you hate HP?

        I will. :)

      • 98 Professor VJ Duke November 6, 2013 at 02:11

        I don’t hate it, but I do have some issues with it.

      • 99 FictionFan November 14, 2013 at 21:53

        BUS doesn’t remember this one specifically but has read and enjoyed some Helprin. She reckons I won’t enjoy this because it’s fantasy.

        But…there’s very little in life that’s more fun than proving BUS wrong… ;)

      • 100 Professor VJ Duke November 14, 2013 at 23:15

        Of course she has! Ask BUS if she enjoys crushing this professor’s dreams.

        :D The professor is very hopeful… Very… (You must teach me how. I’d like to too. BUS seems like the type that is always right.)

      • 101 FictionFan November 14, 2013 at 23:50

        :lol: You ask her…I’m scared…

        She is always right – except when she’s wrong. But proving her wrong is a tricky and difficult business that requires years of study… ;)

      • 102 Professor VJ Duke November 15, 2013 at 01:36

        No, you must face your fears and ask her. The professor is eagerly anticipating her response.

        Does FEF do it quite frequently?


  1. 1 A Kingdom Far and Clear by Mark Helprin | FictionFan's Book Reviews Trackback on December 16, 2013 at 13:46
  2. 2 TBR Thursday 10… | FictionFan's Book Reviews Trackback on December 12, 2013 at 13:06
  3. 3 Blogdom Oct. 23-Nov. 20 ’13 | Welcome to the ToiBox Trackback on November 20, 2013 at 11:19

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