Leeds, Constance. The Unfortunate Son.
14 June 2012, Viking Juvenile
Nominated for the Cybils by lwad
Luc was born with only one ear in 16th century France, and his father is very displeased with him. Instead of working in the family olive groves, he decides to help out Pons and Mattie, an older brother and sister team who are raising a young noblelady, Beatrice, after the violent death of her father at the hands of a lord. The little make shift family does well for a time, until Pons and Luc are attacked by pirates while out fishing. While Pons survives, the news of Luc's disappearance is taken hard by the women in the family, although Luc's real family seem to be resigned to it. Luc is sold to a very educated man in North Africa, Salah, and while Salah's other servant, Bes, is very cruel to Luc, Salah himself works to educate Luc in the ways of healing. Luc wants to be home, but does learn much. Meanwhile, a secret surrounded Luc's birth, and more information about Beatrice's family surfaces. This information drastically changes everyone's lives, and just might make it possible to get Luc back from slavery.
Strengths: Even though the description and cover made me loathe to pick this up, I was very quickly sucked into the story. All the characters were interesting, the glimpse into life in North Africa was fascinating, and the plot moved everyone quickly. This reminded me a little of Jacques' The Angel's Command for some reason, or maybe Jinks' Pagan's Crusade. I enjoyed it.
Weaknesses: This will be a hard sell, since it is an unusual time period.
I was very sad to hear that the author, Constance Leeds, passed away in February of 2012.