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Geheimen van het Wilde Woud of my all time favourite Dutch children s books is De brief aan de koning by Tonke Dragt, and I was thrilled when decades after the original release this much treasured classic finally received its much deserved English language debut with The Letter for the King in 2014, thanks to Pushkin Press in the UK and a beautiful translation by Laura Watkinson So you can imagine my excitement when the sequel, Secrets of the Wild Wood originally Geheimen van het Wilde Woud received an English release this year as well also translated by Watkinson Dark and mature than its precedent, this book continues to capture the magic and adventurous spirit I ve come to know and love from Tonke Dragt s imaginative world.The first novel is a fairly straight forward story of squire Tuiri s mission to deliver an important letter to the King of Unauwen on the other side of the Great Mountains and the trials and tribulations that are waiting for him on his dangerous journey not in the least the Red Riders who have killed the previous messenger The Black Knight With the White Shield It s a fantastical adventure that thrills on every page and set in a fictional medieval land it s the perfect classic to dream away with.In its sequel, we return to the world of Tiuri who is now a knight himself with his loyal friend Piak by his side as his squire Was the King of Eviellan and the rivalry between the two twin princes of Unauwen merely a whisper behind the pages of The Letter for the King, in The Secrets of the Wild Wood unrest has been brewing for far longer and with one of the knights from the first book having gone missing in the ominous Wild Wood, Tiuri and Piak set out on a mission to discover what trouble is laying ahead for the Kingdoms of Unauwen and Dagonaut.Unlike Tuiri and Piak s first adventure, the people they meet on this perilous journey aren t easily categorised as good or bad guys, and their world is no longer black or white Friends can become foes and villains temporary allies, but amid the heat and confusion of a looming war, the two friends have each other to rely on as they discover the truth about the evil king of Eviellan and they combine forces with new characters to try to stop a full blown war from erupting between the Kingdoms.Despite my love for The Letter for the King, for some peculiar reason I had never read its sequel before even though it was released well before I was born so I have had plenty of time to pick it up and I am so glad that the English release finally made me read it, because it s another fast paced and gripping classic that will stay with me for a long time.The biggest difference between the two books is that with Tiuri becoming a knight, the story has also grown up to become mature and complicated Rather than a straight forward children s tale of good versus evil, there are many shades of grey along the way and this makes The Secrets of the Wild Wood a far intense and complicated novel Added to that there are the first signs of love blossoming between Tiuri and a princess he meets on his travels, a plethora of intense fight scenes and a lot of horrific deaths accompanying the looming war, all of which add to the feeling of maturity that cuts through the otherwise still heavily adventurous fantasy read.That isn t to say there weren t moments of sheer wonder running throughout both for Tiuri and the reader as a new part of Tiuri s exciting world is uncovered and an almost whimsical feeling of delight at exploring the corners of The Wild Wood, but interspersed with deaths of much loved characters and a confusing cat and mouse game with The King of Eviellan, this was a far darker novel to read than its precedent And one I took my time to finish, as it was a hefty one too.What I loved most in The Letter for the King was Tiuri and Piak s growing friendship and despite having their own journeys in The Secrets of the Wild Wood, and their own missions to accomplish, the incredible connection between the two best friends was always there Even when things got really tough for them, just knowing that the other person was out there working towards a similar goal made a huge difference and let them see through the darkness surrounding the wicked plans of Eviellan.The Secrets of the Wild Wood is another epic adventure that feels similar to fantastical tale The Lord of the Rings, yet has its own distinctive voice and imaginative world building to create a truly unique fantasy classic that I am thrilled will now reach a whole new audience with its excellent English translation Tiuri and Piak may not have pointy ears and hairy feet, but they are such heroic and compelling fantasy characters that they could very well go down in literary history alongside Frodo and Bilbo 4.5 stars This book and its prior book, The Letter for the King, will be lovely for the right reader, but they aren t my jam Both were originally written in Dutch in the 1960s and just now translated to English They are classic Arthurian stories of knights and quests, centered around kind, honorable Tiuri, who is a squire in the first book and a young, but already well liked, knight in the second Tiuri embodies all of the classic knightly qualities of chivalry, honor, bravery, and humility even better, he is compassionate and kind Yet for young readers, he s still relatable in his doubts and fears I find both books deadly dull because they are slow, old fashioned, and straightfoward There isn t enough story or character development for me to connect with The characters wander in and out of woods and castles and battlefields, and endlessly ride their horses from one destination to another This is a journey of a story and when all is said and done, not all that much happens, even if the fate of whole kingdoms rests on Tiuri s shoulders There is one female character who I like Tirui s sweetheart and who gets to exhibit a little bit of agency, but otherwise, girls and women are relegated to existing somewhere off page doing lady things.Yet I can t discount the appeal these books will have for the right young people they are cozy and quiet and decent, and that s kind of nice right now, when everything is big and scary They are written and translated beautifully in simple, unadorned language These books are old fashioned and traditional and would be a good entry point into knightly fantasy for some young readers although no magic here , and a feel good nostalgia bomb for some older and adult readers to curl up with.Also, I LOVE the covers. 4.5 5 Gooooood I did think the first book was better. After reading the first book, I decided to read the second right after and I am not disappointed Finally Tiuri is officially a knight He is invited to come to knight Ristridin s castle in spring However, when he arrives, he is informed that knight Ristridin has not returned yet from the Wild Wood Concerns grow and Tiuri and his friends are determined to solve the mystery and find their lost friend.When I opened the book I was pleasantly surprised to once again see a map This was a close up from the previous map which can be also found at the end It showed the Wild Wood and little around that area I really like that This way you can really follow the journey and the paths they take Like the Letter for the King, this book also has a simple writing style I do however see the differences between this book and books that are recently written as this book is from 1963 The pace is quite fast, and I liked the story I actually found thrill here than in the previous one, but the story was also again a predictable But this is a children s book, so I don t really mind I think children maybe have a different experience regarding the book being predictable and a little dull sometimes In my review for the Letter for the King, I said that I thought the characters were a little bland They definitely improved in this book I loved how the friendship between Tiuri and Piak progressed and developed The characters came across a little mature than the previous book I read a little bit about love, some fight scenes and even death This book just was a little complex and less childlike although it obviously still is a children s book Which was a joy for me to read I think Tonke really did a great job, describing and developing this world even further. 3.5 An old fashioned fantasy that manages to be different from the usual I m excited about this author, because she s Dutch, and I find translations interesting There s a whole world of kid s and Y A books that I am not privy to because I only read English I mean, what are the French fantasy classics What about Yugoslavia The Russians had a beautiful golden age of children s illustration it may not have ended, who knows Not me Because I only read English So thanks to all the translators out there who make it possible for my ignorant self to enjoy writers like Tonke Dragt. Since when is the sequel twice as good as the original book Maybe my tastes have changed, but I did not enjoy the writing style of the first book in this series, The Letter for the King and the plot seemed so bland But I enjoyed the unique writing style of this book, the plot kept my attention, and the characters are believable I definitely want to read of Tonke Dragt s books if I can find any others that have been translated Or maybe I should use this as a good excuse to learn Dutch. Ridder Tiuri en zijn vriend Piak gaan op zoek naar ridder Ristridin, want hij is nooit teruggekeerd in zijn kasteelEr worden vreemde verhalen verteld over het Wilde Woud van ruwe rovers en bosgeesten, van doodlopende dwaalwegen en ru nes, en van mysterieuze Mannen in het Groen Three years ago now, I picked up a copy of this book s sequel The Letter for the King, which had only just recently been translated into English I loved it and shortly after bought its sequel, only to have had it sit on my bookshelf all this time with my excuse being that I wanted to re read the first before starting this one Well, that never happened, and finally the other day I picked it and plunged myself again into the kingdoms of Unauwen and Dagonaut, craftfully created through the pen of Tonke Dragt.I was delightfully reminded of the reason I had enjoyed the first so much The beautiful world building and medieval like setting, young Tiuri and his faithful guide and friend Paik, the highly amusing comments from the knights, Tirillo I squealed when he showed up again in book two and just the epic journeys and high stakes that have made up this series Add to that in this second installment romance, a highly mysterious Master of the Wild Woods, missing knights, secrets and betrayals, and Forgotten Cities, and, yes, wow It certainly has a King Arthurian feel The writing itself is unique, probably due to some to the fact that it was written in another language where the sentence structure is much different than English s, but it only adds to the tale I m not one to write or underline things in my books, but I was so tempted in parts when I d suddenly burst out laughing at a dry or humorous remark or read a scene that had me holding my breath.Tiuri, the young hero from book one, is now a knight and finding it not be as thrilling as he once thought especially as he compares his now peaceful life with the adventure he had the year before Travelling to meet as pre arranged with other knights at a friend s castle, they become concerned when the friend in question never shows up and the last heard of him was that he was in the Wild Woods, an overgrown and abandoned place, supposedly haunted by Men in Green Finding him is not as straightforward as it seems, and to quote the back cover As the darkness surrounds him and reports grow of plots and ruthless enemies, Tiuri finds himself alone and fighting for survival caught in a world where good and evil wear the same face, and the wrong move could cost him everything This was such a wonderful book.First things first, this is such a beautiful book When I first opened it there was a map on the inside and when you took of the dust cover there was a beautiful imprint on the book, just wow at the design on the whole book.I am a big fan of fantasy books and this one is at the top for me From the first page I was pulled into this fantasy world surrounded by all the wonderful characters.I really love the world building in this book I love how Tanke has built her own fantasy world The story and characters where very engaging Also, Laura Watkinson has done a wonderful job in translating this book The story is very intriguing filled with, journeys, sword fights and friendship We meet a lot characters we already know from the previous book and get to meet a handful of interesting characters as well.This was a fantastic fantasy story that will have you gripped from the very first page It will transport you into the book and you feel like you are apart of this brilliant story.Cannot recommend this story enough to everyone I wanted to love this book, I really did As much as The Letter , the previous instalment of Tiuri s adventures but I just didn t I found the pace slower, the characterisation a little thinner although I did love the deepened friendship with Piak , the structure episodic and the tension less convincing Saying all this, it s far, far from a bad book It draws the reader into the world of Dagonaut and its medieval style society, with fantasy elements that are subtler than dragons and wizards, but nonetheless appealing The final chapters do up the game, with a thrilling Hamlet esque duel, but the fact that I dipped in and out of this novel over a month rather than devouring it in days like The Letter probably speaks for itself.

  • Paperback
  • 469 pages
  • Geheimen van het Wilde Woud
  • Tonke Dragt
  • Dutch
  • 19 February 2019
  • 9789025853181

About the Author: Tonke Dragt

Tonke Dragt werd in 1930 geboren in Nederlands Indi , en heeft daar het grootste deel van haar jeugd doorgebracht In 1942 kwam ze met haar moeder en twee zusjes terecht in een Jappenkamp, en daar heeft ze ontdekt dat ze ze kon ontsnappen door verhalen te verzinnen Ze schreef en tekende in eerder gebruikte uitgegumde schriftjes en zelfs op wc papier, want er was bijna niets Samen met een vrien