The Golden Goblet: A Review



My husband and I joke that we should never buy a book we haven't read, because as soon as the book is ours, the chances that we will actually read it plummet. The reason for that is simply the well known tyranny of the urgent.... so long as there is no time limitation (e.g.: library due date), we will completely forget that we still need to read something.

So in general, the books I buy are ones that I loved and want to have on hand to lend to others, reread, or just enjoy snatches of here and there.

But occasionally I'll either forget or pick up something because it is just so highly recommended I can't imagine not wanting to have it around. Such was the case with The Golden Goblet. I had seen it listed in enough catalogs next to The Bronze Bow to figure it must be classic kid lit. So I picked it up somewhere, probably from library discards, and put it on a shelf in Jack's room, which is where I rediscovered it the other day and finally decided to read it.

I have a sneaking suspicion that pretty much everyone has already read this book, but in case someone hasn't, it is the story of Ranofer, a boy of ancient Egypt who wishes to become a goldsmith. Although Ranofer is already skilled for a twelve year old and would normally be able to apprentice with a master of his chosen art, the sudden death of his father has left him at the whim of a cruel half-brother, Gebu, who has no interest in Ranofer's future. As Ranofer struggles to make the best of his situation, he begins to realize that Gebu's activities might not just be cruel, they might be criminal as well.

Perhaps the age of the protagonist should have been a giveaway to me that this would be a very different story from The Bronze Bow. I remember reading somewhere that kids very much relate to being stuck in situations out of their control, and most of The Golden Goblet is very firmly in that category. While it is frustrating at times, especially from an adult perspective, I could appreciate the realism both in the ability and thought processes of Ranofer and the deference to the limitations of the time period. So often it seems like writers take a stereotypical plucky boy or spunky girl with modern sensibilities and toss him or her into any story regardless of historical accuracy (how often does the character have to explain that although the neighbors disapprove, father believes in marrying for love/speaking to servants as equals/the importance of education/the silliness of gender roles/ignoring superstitions/etc). Although I am definitely not an expert on ancient Egypt, I did feel like I was actually reading a story about it rather than a modern day story dressed in a drugstore Cleopatra halloween costume.

Overall, The Golden Goblet was a story I enjoyed now, but I imagine I would have enjoyed it a lot more as a child. The story does not reach for the emotional breadth of The Bronze Bow, but it plumbs its own depths of persistence against odds, honesty, hard work, and friendship. I'm sure Jack will enjoy it someday, and in the meantime.... it's sitting on his bookshelf.
2 sprinkles of fairy dust:

I love those two books! Though I haven;'met more then a couple people who have read either one!

You know, I read that book for the first time a few months ago, and when I typed it into my Book Log, I made the notation "seems like I should have read this before." But I'm pretty sure I never had. :)