marycatelli (marycatelli) wrote,

The Rope Trick

The Rope Trick by Lloyd Alexander

In a setting obviously derived from Italy -- unusually, Alexander even uses some Italian terminology -- Lidi, after her father's death, is continuing to travel as a performing magician, the Princess Lidi, with Jericho her canvasmaster.  After a show and some wrangling with a petty inn-keeper who tries to claim her best silver coin after she produces it from his nose -- she deftly "puts it back" -- she finds that a young girl Danielle followed her from the inn.

She ends up buying her with a trick.  And the girl deduces that the math problem she posed, for all the numbers that the innkeeper chose, would always add up to eighteen.  She and her stage manager take her on as the Added Attraction, where she shows a knack for predictions, and can improvise when they don't happen.

Lidi is searching for the famed rope trick, which only Ferramondo knows.  Her father, belittling her, had claimed she would never be a proper magician without it, even though he did not know it himself.

In the course of their adventures, they meet various people who claim to have met Ferramondo, none of whom describe his appearance remotely similar to each other.  Someone tries to buy Danielle, not for her predictions but for her improvised, "Money will come into your hands and you will rise high."  They find a man sleeping in the carriage who wants a job; he's fleeing the law.  They take a smuggler's route, they meet a man with performing pigs, and much more before the tale resolves.
Tags: fiction reviews: alternate world fantasy, fiction reviews: children's fantasy

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