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I am trying to identify a trilogy (I can't rule out that there was a fourth book) I read in German [I don't know whether German was the original language] at some time prior to 2002. It was young-adult fantasy, either no or low magic. More fantasy-renaissance than fantasy-middle-ages. The stories all took place in one country, a hostile foreign power is also involved.

The protagonist was a young male commoner. In the first book, he travels with a father-figure around the country for work reasons - they may have been travelling craftsmen, but it could also be traders or circus folks. They come across the secondary protagonist, a run-away (or kidnapped?) princess. There is an evil vizier, who flees or is banished to the hostile foreign country at the end of the first book. The protagonist and the princess are set up as star-crossed lovers.

A later book sees the country occupied by the hostile power. The protagonist ends up leading a resistance unit under a nom-de-guerre inspired by some bird. The princess (and potentially other characters) know of his exploits, but don't know that it is him. He is haunted by the violent acts he commits.

I am least sure about the final book. I believe that there is some form of reconciliation between the two countries, which becomes possible because the foreign throne is inherited by the more enlightened crown prince/because the young foreign king sees through the deceptions of his evil advisors.

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  • 1
    You could improve this question by going through the checklists here and editing in any relevant info you can think to add.
    – Valorum
    Dec 17, 2020 at 20:02
  • @Valorum I've included everything I can recall which is mentioned in those checklists. I'm not aware of any wrong candidates either.
    – Arno
    Dec 17, 2020 at 20:06
  • Was it a translation or a native German author?
    – Valorum
    Dec 17, 2020 at 20:09
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    What are the fantasy elements here?
    – AncientSwordRage
    Dec 17, 2020 at 22:50
  • I've often wondered about the fantasy label for these. Most people use it, but I suspect that's more to do with the Prydain books.
    – eshier
    Dec 18, 2020 at 1:24

1 Answer 1

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I believe that is Lloyd Alexander's Westmark Trilogy (Westmark, The Kestrel, and The Beggar Queen).

From the first book's summary:

Young Theo, an orphan, has been raised in a small town, Dorning, by a printer named Anton. After the pair accepts a job from a travelling salesman they are investigated by Cabbarus' men, who declare their job illegal and proceed to destroy their press. In the ensuing scuffle and chase, Theo attacks a soldier and Anton is shot and killed.

With no one else to turn to, Theo takes to the countryside, eventually meeting up with the men who hired him and Anton for the printing job: Count Las Bombas, a con artist, and his dwarf driver/partner Musket. Theo joins up with them, rather reluctantly, and ends up participating in their money-making schemes. They eventually discover a girl named Mickle, a poor street urchin, who has a talent for throwing her voice and mimicry. The count builds a charade around Mickle, dressing her up as the Oracle Priestess and putting her on display, claiming that she can speak to the spirits of the dead.

From The Kestrel summary:

Similar to how the aristocratic powers of the time invaded France to restore the aristocracy, here a foreign country is meddling in the internal affairs of Westmark. And just as France repelled the great powers with an army led by the people and of the people, the Westmark forces run by Florian, and his lieutenants, Theo — now the eponymous Kestrel — and Justin, fight to preserve the country. But becoming a general, a tradesman in blood and death, costs the artistic and conscientious Theo a great deal. He has to cut off pieces of himself in the service of a more pressing need.

The third book sees the minister eliminated and a new government of the people established.

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    It definitely is. The name Theo rings a bell, and the other details also fit. Having looked up how Kestrel translates into German, I also recognize the bird (which had been blocked out by Eddings' Sparhawk/Sperber in my memory).
    – Arno
    Dec 17, 2020 at 20:19

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