Coming of age in a fantasy kingdom; Mont Cant Gold, by Paul R. Fisher. New York: Atheneum. $10.95. (Ages 12 and up.)
In the land of the Seven Fates, on the island of Rhewar, a young king, Rhian Mont cant, begins a rite of passage -- from self-absorbed youth to compassionate , self-sacrificing manhood.
Rhian is named king after his father's death, and his court is soon troubled. His twin brother, Talwy, who has defected to the island's dormant evil powers, deeks to usurp his brother's kingdom of Canys. Rhian's own thoughtlessness alienates him from his younger poet brother, Pinwy, and costs him the service of several important advisers.
About all that holds the court of Mont Cant together is Ianwyn, Rhian's and Pinwy's teenage sister, whose good nature and hard work are unfailing. Ianwyn realizes the old prophesy about the next high king being the darling of the Fates, may someday apply to Rhian, painful as the winning of their signs of support may be.
No one believes her at first, least of all Rhian, as he makes one mistake after another. The crowning one is his falling in love and taking as his queen the clever servant girl, Marin, who is the exiled niece of one of his powerful and deadly neighboring kings.
Rhewar is invaded. The castle is besieged, and Rhian, Marin, Ianwyn, and Pinwy flee for their lives. On his bitter trek, dodging danger and finally confronting the malevolent power of Talwy, Rhian wins (at a very high price) the favor of the final Fate -- Enrhion -- thus making the prophecy of a new golden age of Mont Cant come true.
Fisher's idea is an interesting one -- having adolescents try to run a kingdom without money, warriors, or wisdom. while there is an old wizard who appears to help young people at critical points in their adventures, for the most part, they are on their own -- to fail, to struggle, to love, to suffer, to gain understanding of themselves and others -- in short, to grow.
The best fantasies take the reader on journeys during which what happens insidem the characters is finally more important than what happens in those magical lands with faraway names. "Mont Cant Gol d" is one of these rewarding journeys.