Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 16 to 18
- Grade: 11 to 12
Jack's days are numbered. Surrounded by criminals, assassins, knaves, and usurpers, and that's just members of his own court, everyone is out to get him. For centuries, The Four Kingdoms, the Hearts, Clubs, Diamonds, and Spades, waged war upon each other. To stem the bloodshed, the Four of a Kind, an order of wise and holy men, were entrusted to keep the peace at any cost.
But the wheels of war are turning once more. Bands of criminals amass in the forests of Spade territory, fleets of sea-mad pirates pillage the Heart coasts, and the Four of a Kind, corrupted by their ill-gotten power, play at war.
With the Spade King in poor health, Jack, the young Prince of Spades, is next in line to inherit the throne. All eyes are on Jack, and he is eager to prove to the royal court and himself, that he's worthy of the crown. As a test of his worth, the King, under the direction of his conniving advisor, the Ace of Spades, grants Jack the role of Minister of Executions, a death sentence to those that bear the title. It is up to Jack to round up the enemies of the Spade Crown and deliver the King's justice. As the King's enemies grow more desperate, their murderous aim turns to Prince Jack.
About the authors
Daniel Schneider is Professor in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning and an ecologist for the Illinois Natural History Survey at the University of Illinois at Urbana– Champaign. His work on the history of ecology has been awarded the Price/Webster Prize by the History of Science Society.