While I enjoyed Westmark, I struggled with The Kestrel. At less than 250 pages, The Kestrel is not a long book, but Lloyd Alexander aims for an epic scope as the nation of Westmark faces betrayal and invasion by the neighboring nation of Regia. The book’s characters are all caught up in the conflict, particularly protagonist Theo, who joins up with the anti-monarchy freedom fighter Florian and slowly begins to lose his humanity amidst the horrors and brutality of war. The Kestrel felt rather fragmented at times, as Alexander hops all over the place in order to keep track of the growing conflict. That, and I never quite got a handle on the book’s tone; it switches from grim battles and moments of anguish to scenes with a pair of child thieves that, while not exactly light-hearted, still felt like they were from another novel entirely.