Literature: The King of the Copper Mountains

The King of the Copper Mountains (originally Het Sleutelkruid) is a children's fantasy novel by Paul Biegel.

King Mansolain has ruled over the Copper Mountains for a thousand years, but his reign is coming to an end. As his heart slows like an unwinding clock, The Wonder Doctor diagnoses that only the Golden Speedwell, a rare flower from a far away land, can cure the king and restore his youth. To keep him alive, the king's citizens come to him each day to tell him a story, and the king in turn shelters them in his magnificent castle.

Like The Arabian Nights, the book takes the form of several short stories, roughly one per chapter, connected by the story arcs of the king in his castle, and The Wonder Doctor making all haste to find the Golden Speedwell.


This book provides examples of:

  • Fisher King: The titular King Mansolain. His kingdom seems to be dying with him.
  • Flower From The Mountain Top: The Golden Speedwell.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: The only dragon in the book conforms to the Western style, although intelligent enough to speak and having three heads. They occasionally disagree with one another.
  • Our Dwarves Are All the Same: The dwarves who created the Copper Mountains once lived beneath the earth, mining gold, silver and gemstones and forging treasures in the magma of volcanoes.