Reviewed by Zarina de Ruiter
As a child I was always immersed in a book, but more often than not it was written by a British author, such as Roald Dahl or Enid Blyton, not a Dutch one. There were a few notable exceptions though, and The Letter for the King (originally titled De brief voor de Koning) by Tonke Dragt was one of them. Steeped in adventure and fantastical places, it transported me with the flick of a page to an imaginative land filled with heroes, villains, and everything in between.
I'm always astounded when incredible novels not originally written in the English language are never translated for the foreign market, or if they are it takes many years to get there. The Letter for the King is an exemplary example of this, as it was originally published in the Netherlands in 1962, yet only received its English debut over half a century later in 2013. It is a shame that non-Dutch readers have been deprived of this children's classic for so long, but as it is a timeless story it will undoubtedly collect a whole new legion of fans that now have access to this incredible book.
Set in a fictional medieval land, 16-year old squire Tiuri is on the cusp of becoming a knight in the Kingdom of Dagonaut. All that is left for him to do is spend the night in perfect solitude in the local chapel with his fellow squires and the knighthood is his. However, in the middle of the night the sound of someone knocking ruptures through the silence within the chapel and when Tiuri against better judgment opens the door, he's given a sealed letter which he is told must be delivered to a black knight with a white shield as a matter of great urgency. Tiuri understand that it is of grave importance that he does as the stranger tells him and he sets off to find the knight to deliver the letter.