Three to See the King

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Three to See the King


First edition
Author Magnus Mills
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Genre Parable [1]
Publisher Flamingo
Publication date
4 June 2001
Media type Print & eBook
Pages 176
ISBN 978-0312283551

Three to See the King, the third novel by Booker Prize-shortlisted author Magnus Mills, published in 2001, is part parable [2] and part speculative fiction. [3] Written after the success of his first book, The Restraint of Beasts , brought him into the media limelight, Three to See the King started out in part as a "project" to prove to himself that he could be a full-time writer. [4] The book was so successful that reviews appeared in The Guardian , The Spectator and The Independent , and it has been translated into both German as Zum König! (2004) and French as 3 pour voir le Roi (2005). [5]

Magnus Mills is an English novelist and short story writer.

Parable succinct, didactic story which illustrates one or more instructive lessons or principles

A parable is a succinct, didactic story, in prose or verse that illustrates one or more instructive lessons or principles. It differs from a fable in that fables employ animals, plants, inanimate objects, or forces of nature as characters, whereas parables have human characters. A parable is a type of analogy.

Speculative fiction literary and cinematic genre that includes science fiction, horror, fantasy and alternate history

Speculative fiction is an umbrella genre encompassing narrative fiction with supernatural or futuristic elements. This includes, but is not limited to, science fiction, fantasy, superhero fiction, science fantasy, horror, utopian and dystopian fiction, supernatural fiction as well as combinations thereof.


Plot Summary

The nameless narrator lives in an isolated tin house situated on a windswept sandy plain, miles from his nearest neighbours whom he meets infrequently. He is quite happy in his lonely self-sufficiency until unexpectedly a woman, Mary Petrie, comes to live with him. Unsettled at first, the narrator gradually gets used to the companionship. Then news comes of a new community being established on the edge of the plain by a charismatic, yet enigmatic figure who is digging a canyon and gaining more and more followers to his revolutionary cause. One by one, his neighbours join the canyon project, moving their tin houses to the new community as the narrator feels under increasing pressure to join them. It transpires that the end-goal for the project is not for there to be a city of tin houses, but a city of clay houses. Many of the previously convinced citizens of the plain and beyond are frustrated by this news, and decide to return to their previous existences.

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  1. Fiction DB: Three to See the King by Magnus Mills,, accessed 28 Aug 2011.
  2. The Independent on Sunday: "Three to See the King, by Magnus Mills – James Urquhart acclaims a sly parable that bends and reshapes the land of Oz,", 16 June 2001.
  3. Eric Walker: Ten Overlooked Odd Speculative Fiction Classics,, 2006.
  4. Julian Flanagan: Booker prize nominee prefers driving a bus; Magnus Mills's debut novel was nominated for the Booker prize, but he still loves his day job as a bus driver, The Telegraph,, 11 Aug 2009.
  5. The Complete Review,, accessed 28 Aug 2011.