Sixteen-year-old Prince Jared has barely ascended to the throne of Archenfield when his cousin Axel lays plans to usurp him. With the threat of war from neighbouring Paddenburg, Jared badly needs to make alliances, both at home and abroad. But will Jared or Axel secure the most support - and which of their "friends" can they trust?
To know your mother was raped multiple times and obliged to suffer unspeakable humiliation to survive the Holocaust is bad enough. To hear her tell the story chapter and verse and then relive her painful experiences while assembling them into a book must be excruciating.
Virginia Baily's second novel, Early One Morning, packs the emotional punch of Irène Némirovsky's Suite Française - or so her publishers would have you believe. They exaggerate; Baily is a competent writer with an eye for pretty details and an ear for the pain and regret that can echo in the most banal of exchanges.
Conversion is an emotive subject in Judaism, and rarely have I seen the complexity of joining our community better articulated than in Alison Pick's new memoir. Pick, a successful novelist here and in her native Canada, grew up without Judaism in her life and without any real hunger for it - or indeed for any organised religion.
His SS Nazi Party identification card, dated 1936, shows a sombre-looking young man with short-cropped hair and round-rimmed spectacles. His rather protruding ears add to the air of 1930s dorkiness. Just another quasi-intellectual Nazi bureaucrat, you might think.
'We lived in a nice house with a garden in a Berlin suburb. We had friends and a dog (though I really wanted a cat) and seaside holidays and a very pleasant, normal life. My parents didn't read to me. We were a very literate household but I think the idea of bedtime stories was purely an English one in those days; this was the 1920s and 1930s!
Now that best-selling thriller writer "Sam Bourne" has been "outed", the owner of that pen name - Guardian executive editor and JC columnist Jonathan Freedland - is no longer wrapping himself in mystery.
Making sense of the world's myriad conflicts is difficult at the best of times. Without a map, and an explanation of geography, it is almost impossible. Words can tell you what is happening, the map helps you to understand why it is happening.
Leonard Michaels was born in New York in 1933 and spent his last decade in Tuscany. He spoke Yiddish until he was six and a good deal of Italian before he died. In the half-century between, he wrote in English and taught literature at the University of California at Berkeley. Some claim him as one of the masters of style of his period.