Marcia Brown's powerful retelling of the story of Paka'a and his son Ku-a-Paka'a conveys the beauty and pomp of ancient Hawaii and recreates a life and culture of days now past. In this legend a brave young boy endeavors to restore his exiled father to his position as royal guardian and personal attendant to the king. How the boy's remarkable courage and ingenuity help his father regain his rightful place as "backbone of the king" is an eloquent, exciting narrative. Through the skillful meshing of authentic chants and taut prose, Marcia Brown gives the reader a memorable glimpse into a little-known folklore that can hold its own with the great legends of the world.
Backbone of the King is inspired by "The Story of Paka'a and his son Ku-a-Paka'a," a Hawaiian legend that came to Marcia Brown's attention in the autumn of 1962, when she was visiting the islands. An inveterate traveler and storyteller, it was almost inevitable that she receive as a gift a collection of Hawaiian legends. When she returned to the islands the following year, she spent some twelve months painting and studying Hawaiiana. She also inquired into the background of the Paka'a story.