The Prince Commands – Andre Norton

“Did you know Andre Norton wrote historical and alternate history, too?”
“Yeah, she wrote a couple of Civil War novels, and this one I got at the giant booksale last year. It’s really nice. It’s like a boy’s adventure story. It’s great!” {Ride Proud, Rebel is also available freely as an ebook via Project Gutenberg. SWEET.}
“What’s it about?”
“It’s about a secret heir to the throne, and bandits, and cavalry charges, and secret passwords–and horses–more books ought to have more horses. That’s the reason fantasy literature has declined, they don’t have enough cool horses in them–and, uh, winning your spurs, and, and, oh, fighting the Communists! And it’s really nice.”
“It has Communists?”
“Yeah, they came in from Russia and set up shop and tried to overthrow the old King, but everybody just laughed at them until they assassinated him, but that actually backfired on them and they had to go underground and be underground revolutionaries again.”
“They came from Russia? This isn’t science fiction?”
“No, it’s set in Prisoner of Zenda-land. You know, somewhere in eastern Europe, still got a King and an Archbishop and a cathedral, people still ride horses, there’s only one airplane in the whole country–”
“Andre Norton wrote this?”
“Yep! And it’s very nice! The hero is like, just a boy and then he wins his spurs and becomes Prince–”
“That’s a ripoff. He should become King. That’s the Zelazny way. Cheating your hero out of their comeuppance so you can use them in more books. Andre Norton was trying to set up a sequel.”
“No! He wasn’t the first heir! They had him concealed in America and he was kept ignorant of his heritage, but then the Communist-influenced Council tried to assassinate the real heir, and then they needed a puppet in a hurry so they called him in and bandits attack the train and he escapes. And then he has adventures. And they’re fun and exciting and…it’s a really good book! I like it a lot.
“A sequel would have been nice, though.”

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