‘The Prince and the Pilgrim’ has been grouped with the other books of Mary Stewart’s Arthurian saga – ‘The Crystal Cave’, ‘The Hollow Hills’, ‘The Last Enchantment’, and ‘The Wicked Day’. But, it doesn’t seem to have very much in common with the other books. It is actually a fairly gentle love story, set in the time of King Arthur with a bit of interference from Arthur’s sister Morgan thrown in. The historical/ legendary basis for this story is fairly slim, so most of it is just a story (told by a master story teller).
Prince Alexander is born in Cornwell, the son of King March’s brother. When Alexander is still a baby, the violent and paranoid King March murders his brother leaving Alexander without a father. Alexander and his mother flee Cornwell, promising to take revenge one day.
When Alexander is approaching 18 years old, he sets out to take his revenge on King March, but things don’t go to plan. On his way, Alexander meets King Arthur’s sister Morgan. She takes him as a young lover and uses magic to keep him besotted. Eventually she sends him on another mission aimed at increasing her power.
Meanwhile, the beautiful Alice has been living a charmed life as the daughter of a Duke. Her mother died when she was born and she has spent her life accompanying her father on pilgrimages to Jerusalem and Tours.
It’s pretty obvious what will happen when the handsome young Alexander meets the beautiful young Alice. Alice castes a stronger spell than Morgan ever did and all Alexander’s problems seem to be easily solved after this point.
After getting my teeth into the other books of the Arthurian saga, I found this one a bit light weight. But, I still enjoyed it as it had the usual dose of Mary Stewart ‘magic’.
I would recommend that you start with any Mary Stewart book other than this one. But, if you are already a fan, particularly of her Arthur books, then add this one to the list!
Book Published 1995