Literature / Westmark

A trilogy by Lloyd Alexander.

Westmark: King Augustine of Westmark is ill, still grieving over his daughter's death years ago. Chief Minister Cabbarus controls the country. After illegally using a printing press, Theo finds himself on the run with Musket and Las Bombas, a team of con artists. They meet a street girl named Mickle who uses her talent for mimicry to aid their schemes. When Theo's guilt over deceiving people causes him to leave the group, he falls in with Florian's children, a group of revolutionaries who plan to end the monarchy.

The Kestrel: Westmark's neighbor Regia invades. Mickle leads her country's army in the war, and Theo becomes the bloodthirsty soldier known as the Kestrel.

The Beggar Queen: Mickle is now reluctantly Queen Augusta. Cabbarus has been banished from Westmark but plots his return. And Florian's revolutionaries still wish for the country to become a republic.

This series includes examples of:

  • Bittersweet Ending: The trilogy ends with the country retaken, the people finally given a democracy, and Theo and Mickle married after years and two books of waiting; but with half the supporting cast dead including all of Florian's "children" besides Theo and the companions going into semi-voluntary exile.
  • Evil Chancellor:
    • Cabbarus manipulates the king's grief over his dead daughter... but it all gets blown sky high when the daughter turns out to be Not Quite Dead.
    • In The Kestrel, the king of the next country over has an Evil Uncle doubling as an Evil Chancellor, too.
  • Fantasy World Map: Westmark has a map of the three countries, The Kestrel has a map of Westmark, and The Beggar Queen has a map of capital city Marianstat.
  • Friend or Foe: In The Kestrel, a battle-mad Theo shoots a Regian soldier before he realizes it's actually his queen (and, to make it worse, his betrothed) Dressing as the Enemy.
  • Friendly Enemy: Florian is a republican, but he and Mickle are pretty good friends.
  • Heroic B.S.O.D.: Theo in The Kestrel after Stock dies.
  • Kill 'em All: Any character with a name had a fifty-fifty chance of making it out of book 3 alive. There were more deaths than in the previous two books combined—and the second book took place during a war.
  • La Résistance: Florian's children are a subversion. They're a republican military force and Voice of the Resistance in an absolute monarchy, but they work alongside the monarchy rather than fight it directly, especially once Mickle takes over.
  • Upper-Class Twit: Constantine is a subversion. He acts like one, but is actually anything but a twit.
  • Voice of the Resistance: Keller's newspaper, one of the few that dares to criticize Cabbarus.
  • War Is Hell: The Kestrel is all about the effects of war upon those who fight it, most especially Theo himself.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Justin's unhappy with the compromises Florian is willing to make with the monarchy.