Dickinson, John 1962–
Dickinson, John 1962–
PERSONAL: Born 1962; son of Peter Dickinson (an author); married; children.
ADDRESSES: Home—Painswick, Gloucestershire, United Kingdom. Agent—c/o Author Mail, David Fickling Books, 20 Vauxhall Bridge Rd., London SW1V 2SA, England.
CAREER: Writer. Formerly affiliated with the Ministry of Defence, the Cabinet Office, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO).
YOUNG ADULT FANTASY NOVELS
SIDELIGHTS: "Writing just seemed to start naturally," noted author John Dickinson in a statement posted on the Random House Web site. In the same statement, he described his fantasy novels as "dramas that dance within the fringe of nightmare."
The first of Dickinson's novels is titled The Cup of the World, an "engrossing, entertaining, richly layered story," observed Ed Sullivan in Booklist. The protagonist, Phaedra, is a beautiful young woman who has recurring dreams about a knight she feels she is meant to marry. When she finally marries the man who embodies her fantasy, Phaedra learns that his family practices black magic and that he is the leader of a rebellious empire. As civil war erupts in her country, Phaedra, who has since given birth to a son, is ultimately forced by circumstance to decide between the life of her husband and the life of her child. While a Kirkus Reviews critic felt that "the oblique writing style requires close re-reading to follow the complex intrigues and shifting alliances," Beth Wright, writing in the School Library Journal, pointed out that "slightly formal prose gives the book the sound of a well-worn, classic tale." Additionally, Claire Rosser, writing in Kliatt, concluded that The Cup of the World is an "excellent fantasy" with "exceptional writing."
Dickinson followed the success of his first novel with its sequel, The Widow and the King. The story begins twelve years later, and Phaedra and her son, Ambrose, are hiding in exile. Ambrose lives in fear of his uncle Paigan, who has escaped from a magical prison and is determined kill the boy. Doing so will lengthen his life. Ambrose seeks refuge with the Widow of Develin and her fifteen-year-old daughter, Sophia, until all of their lives become endangered. "Fans of the first novel will not be disappointed with this compelling, thoughtful sequel," noted Sullivan, again writing in Booklist. Other critics similarly praised the book; a Kirkus Reviews contributor complimented Dickinson's "elegant, elliptical prose" and "lushly detailed world of psychologically rich characters." Sharon Rawlins, reviewing the novel in the School Library Journal, pointed out: "The characters aren't always likable, but … readers will … find themselves drawn into this richly imagined fantasy world." Moreover, Kliatt contributor Rosser maintained that Dickinson "is a gifted writer, able to create a detailed fantasy with believable flesh-and-blood humans inhabiting a strange world."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, October 15, 2004, Ed Sullivan, review of The Cup of the World, p. 398; July, 2005, Ed Sullivan, review of The Widow and the King, p. 1915.
Kirkus Reviews, September 1, 2004, review of The Cup of the World, p. 863; June 15, 2005, review of The Widow and the King, p. 681.
Kliatt, September, 2004, Claire Rosser, review of The Cup of the World, p. 7; May, 2005, Claire Rosser, review of The Widow and the King, p. 10.
School Library Journal, September, 2004, Beth Wright, review of The Cup of the World, p. 204; July, 2005, Sharon Rawlins, review of The Widow and the King, p. 101.
Greenman Review, http://www.greenmanreview.com/ (March 17, 2006), Robert M. Tilendis, review of The Cup of the World and The Widow and the King.
Guardian Online, http://www.guardian.co.uk/ (February 14, 2004), Jan Mark, "A Pawn in the Game," review of The Cup of the World.
Random House Web site, http://www.randomhouse.com/ (February 14, 2004), information about author.