Best YA & YYA Lit 1970 (6)

By: Joshua Glenn
October 25, 2019

For several years now, I’ve argued — here at HILOBROW, as well as in the UNBORED books I’ve co-authored — that the Sixties (1964–1973) were a golden age for YA and YYA adventures. This post is one in a series of 10 identifying my favorites from 1970.

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John Christopher’s Sword of the Spirits sci-fi adventure The Prince in Waiting.

The first installment in one of my favorite YA sci-fi trilogies. Thirteen-year-old Luke is the son of an army captain in Winchester, a walled and fortified city-state whose prince regularly leads an attack on neighboring city-states for honor and glory. Although at first we may think the story is set in medieval England, we soon figure out that this is a post-apocalyptic future. There has been some sort of autochthonic catastrophe, which decimated the 20th-century population and released radiation — which has created “polymufs” (mutants), and even a monster or two. Dwarfs are second-class citizens, in the neo-medieval world of Winchester and its neighboring cities; so are Christians, for that matter, who are widely regarded as weak and worthless. (As in Cicely Hamilton’s 1922 sci-fi novel Theodore Savage, science and technology is regarded with superstitious horror, the cause of humankind’s downfall.) Machinations by the prince’s captains, as well as by the Seers — the dominant religious order, who condemn science and technology while communing with spirits — results in Luke’s father becoming Winchester’s new prince. The adolescent Luke — not his illegitimate older brother, Peter — becomes the titular prince in waiting. The King Arthur mythos is somewhere in the background, here: Will Luke’s father, or Luke himself, unite England’s fractious city-states into one kingdom? Like all of Christopher’s protagonists, Luke is a complex character — not entirely sympathetic. We root for him to succeed, and also to overcome his own demons.

Fun facts: A sequel, Beyond the Burning Lands, was published in 1971. The trilogy’s third installment, The Sword of the Spirits, was published in 1972.

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Let me know if I’ve missed any adventures from this year that you particularly admire. Also, please check out these additional lists.

BEST SIXTIES YA & YYA: [Best YA & YYA Lit 1963] | Best YA & YYA Lit 1964 | Best YA & YYA Lit 1965 | Best YA & YYA Lit 1966 | Best YA & YYA Lit 1967 | Best YA & YYA Lit 1968 | Best YA & YYA Lit 1969 | Best YA & YYA Lit 1970 | Best YA & YYA Lit 1971 | Best YA & YYA Lit 1972 | Best YA & YYA Lit 1973. ALSO: Best YA Sci-Fi.

The 200 Greatest Adventures (1804–1983). THE OUGHTS: 1904 | 1905 | 1906 | 1907 | 1908 | 1909 | 1910 | 1911 | 1912 | 1913. THE TEENS: 1914 | 1915 | 1916 | 1917 | 1918 | 1919 | 1920 | 1921 | 1922 | 1923. THE TWENTIES: 1924 | 1925 | 1926 | 1927 | 1928 | 1929 | 1930 | 1931 | 1932 | 1933. THE THIRTIES: 1934 | 1935 | 1936 | 1937 | 1938 | 1939 | 1940 | 1941 | 1942 | 1943. THE FORTIES: 1944 | 1945 | 1946 | 1947 | 1948 | 1949 | 1950 | 1951 | 1952 | 1953. THE FIFTIES: 1954 | 1955 | 1956 | 1957 | 1958 | 1959 | 1960 | 1961 | 1962 | 1963. THE SIXTIES: 1964 | 1965 | 1966 | 1967 | 1968 | 1969 | 1970 | 1971 | 1972 | 1973. THE SEVENTIES: 1974 | 1975 | 1976 | 1977 | 1978 | 1979 | 1980 | 1981 | 1982 | 1983. THE EIGHTIES: 1984 | 1985 | 1986 | 1987 | 1988 | 1989 | 1990 | 1991 | 1992 | 1993. THE NINETIES: 1994 | 1995 | 1996 | 1997 | 1998 | 1999 | 2000 | 2001 | 2002 | 2003. I’ve only recently started making notes toward a list of Best Adventures of the EIGHTIES, NINETIES, and TWENTY-OUGHTS.

Categories

Adventure, Lit Lists

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