Princess Ben

by Catherine Murdock

Benevolence is not your typical princess and Princess Ben is certainly not your typical fairy tale. With her parents lost to unknown assassins, Princess Ben ends up under the thumb of the conniving Queen Sophia, who is intent on marrying her off to the first available “specimen of imbecilic manhood.” Starved and miserable, locked in the castle’s highest tower, Ben stumbles upon a mysterious enchanted room. So begins her secret education in the magical arts: mastering an obstinate flying broomstick, furtively emptying the castle pantries, setting her hair on fire . . . But Ben’s private adventures are soon overwhelmed by a mortal threat facing the castle and indeed the entire country. Can Princess Ben save her kingdom from annihilation and herself from permanent enslavement?

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN-13/ EAN: 9780547223254
  • ISBN-10: 0547223250
  • Pages: 352
  • Publication Date: 05/04/2009
  • Carton Quantity: 44

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About the Book
About the Author
Excerpts
Reviews
  • About the Book
    Benevolence is not your typical princess and Princess Ben is certainly not your typical fairy tale. With her parents lost to unknown assassins, Princess Ben ends up under the thumb of the conniving Queen Sophia, who is intent on marrying her off to the first available “specimen of imbecilic manhood.” Starved and miserable, locked in the castle’s highest tower, Ben stumbles upon a mysterious enchanted room. So begins her secret education in the magical arts: mastering an obstinate flying broomstick, furtively emptying the castle pantries, setting her hair on fire . . . But Ben’s private adventures are soon overwhelmed by a mortal threat facing the castle and indeed the entire country. Can Princess Ben save her kingdom from annihilation and herself from permanent enslavement?
  • About the Author
  • Excerpts
    How often indeed I have pondered the hand fate would have dealt me had I accompanied my parents that dismal spring morning. Such musings, I concede, are naught but the near side of madness, for envisioning what might have been has no more connection to our own true reality than a lunatic has to a lemon. Nevertheless, particularly in those morose interludes that at times overburden even the most jovial of souls, my thoughts return to my dear mother and father, and again I marvel at the utter unpredictability of life, and the truth that our futures are so often determined not by some grand design or deliberate strategy but by the mundane capriciousness of a head cold. To be candid, my sickness did not occur completely by chance. I had exhausted myself in preparing for my fifteenth birthday fete the week before, had gorged myself during the festivities on far too many sweets, and had then caught a chill during a lengthy game of stags and hunters with my party guests in the twilight forest. Now, however, denying all my symptoms, I endeavored to join my parents. “I have to go!” I insisted from my bed. “It’s my grandfather.” My mother sighed. “Your grandfather would never approve of his granddaughter of all people making herself twice as ill on his account.” She replaced the cloth, soaked in her own herbal concoction, on my forehead, and coaxed some tea across my lips. “Why don’t you draw him a picture instead? I promise to leave it in a place of honor.” “A picture?” I scoffed. “I wish you’d realize I’m not a child.” She kissed my flushed cheeks with a smile. “Try to sleep, darling. We’ll be back before dusk.” These words, too, I ponder. My indignation notwithstanding, all evidence demonstrated that I was still very much a child. After all, I had brought this illness upon myself. Worse, I had sensed the head cold brewing yet petulantly refused to follow my mother’s advice, so sacrificing that pinch of prevention for cup after cup of homemade cure. My bedroom was crowded with stacks of fairy tales, many of the pages illuminated with my own crude drawings, and dolls in myriad displays of dishabille. How easy it would have been for my mother—indeed, were the tables turned, I would have so responded without hesitation—to point out my childishness. I told you so may be painless to utter, but that does not diminish the anguish these four words inflict upon a listener already in pain. That my mother held her tongue and gave me only love when I merited chiding demonstrates her empathy. So many times in the decades since I have reminded myself of her innate compassion, and on my best days have striven to match it. At the time, though, I simply sulked, and so my father found me as he strode in to wish me well. Even in the gloom of that overcast morning, he looked magnificent, his dress armor polished to a high gleam and his prince’s circlet, excavated from the woolen trunks for its semiannual outing, shining against his graying curls. He settled on my bedside with a clank or two. “’Tis a great shame you can’t join us today.” I pouted. “I could go. If you let me.” “And have your mother put my head on a stake? Do you have any notion what that would do to my handsome good looks?” I refused to be cheered. He eyed me with a twinkle. “What if I returned with a dragon?” Through enormous focus, I maintained my glower. “A wee green one that whistled like a kettle? It could roast chestnuts for you on winter mornings.” Despite my best efforts, up crept the corners of my mouth. “And warm your chilblains when you’re old,” I added.

    “‘Ben,’ I’d call out, ‘where’s that blasted dragon of yours? My old toes are freezing!’” “And I’ll go and find the dragon—” “Where it’s playing with my grandchildren—” “And ask it, quite nicely, to come inside and attend to the needs of His Royal Highness, the Prince of Montagne.” I giggled; I could not help it. “Oh, bosh! You say that to a dragon and it’ll gobble me up, as sure as salt’s salt.” “And what would that do to your handsome good looks?” I teased him. “Improve them, I’d wager,” he answered with a grin. “Now, you be good and drink that wretched concoction, and I’ll take you up there next week. Just the two of us.” “Truly? With a picnic? A big one?” “Absolutely.” He, too, kissed my cheeks, and with a last exaggerated bow in my direction, he clattered down the stairs. Wrapping myself in a quilt, I crept to the window. In the courtyard below, Mother frowned as she struggled to fit her own golden princess circlet, for she had little skill at ceremony. With a flourish of trumpets, Uncle Ferdinand appeared at the great entrance to the castle proper, looking every inch the king in his robes of state. Unlike my father, UUncle Ferdinand truly was handsome, tall and lean and solemn. At his side stepped the group’s martial escort, Xavier the Elder, a grizzled warrior who had shaved so thoroughly that several nicks still oozed blood. Queen Sophia appeared as well, displaying the precise gestures and expressions expected of a woman of her rank. A quintet of soldiers played a military hymn, and then Mother, Father, Ferdinand, and Xavier strode across the drawbridge through a double phalanx of saluting guards. Father glanced back to smile a last greeting at me as Mother slipped her arm through his and lay her head on his shoulder. His armor must have been cold, given the unseasonable chill of the day, but the love between them transcended such trivial discomfort. Seeing them off, the queen stood at attention for exactly the amount of time that a queen should, and then with a cool flick of her gown turned back toward the castle, the footmen falling in behind her. Alone at last, the quilt about my shoulders, I sighed as I considered all the tasks that awaited me. A wool vest I had begun for Father the previous autumn lay half-finished, my efforts immobilized by a plethora of dropped stitches. Clearly it would not serve him this winter; at the rate I was progressing, years could pass before the thing warmed him. My mother had delegated to me the task of transcribing her grandmother’s yellowed recipes, the goal being to learn the art of cooking while improving my penmanship. Unfortunately the assignment always left me famished, rooting through the kitchen pantries like an autumn bear. Hunger was a burden I could not tolerate for even a heartbeat, a truth that my physique amply demonstrated. Simply glancing at the stack of stained and curling recipes sent my stomach to growling. Outside, the master of hounds returned with his pack, the dogs gleeful and wet from a long run and a swim in the Great River. But even their prancing enthusiasm did not lift my own misery. With only the ubiquitous murmur from the soldiers’ barracks to comfort me, I crept back into bed, seeking refuge from the oppressive mist that cloaked the castle’s turrets. Perusing my shelves, I could not find one volume to satisfy me. The fairy tales I had read countless times. The more recent additions held even less interest: dry histories of Montagne, geometry textbooks, a medical treatise on bloodletting that my mother appeared never to have opened and that she now put to use as a bookend. I squirmed further under the covers. My mind drifted, wondering if the foursome had yet arrived at my grandfather’s tomb, what they would say there in his honor. I had practiced my own speech for weeks, and had been quite proud of...

  • Reviews

    Wichita Eagle, Great Gift Recommendations 2008

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