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A book by Parke Godwin

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One of the better renditions of the Arthurian story.

  • Jun 8, 1997
A quick & satisfying portrayal of Arthur the Romanized Celt who halted, for a brief time, the inexorable Saxon advance which ultimately gave us England & Wales. Not overly steeped in the fantastic and the "hard-to-believe", it reads "true" to the few historical sources and the background material we have of this time today. And it offers just a touch of mystery: Merlin appears as a vision who makes himself known to Arthur at crucial moments in his life (to guide him toward his destiny) while the Faerie folk are presented as the primitive and diminutive stone-age remnants of the first men to inhabit the British Isles (w/all the "magic" of such primitive peoples and the fear of the unknown they may inspire among the ignorant). This tale depicts a very convincing Romano/British world, fighting against the insistent thrust of the newer, land-hungry Germanic peoples. Arthur & his companions are a convincing crew, as well, as they move through the old legends but w/a modern spin. My main quibble is with the dream-like experiences of Arthur among the Faerie folk. I couldn't quite see why he should have felt "out of time" or forgotten his own kind and self while in their midst, nor did their existence seem at all the idyllic sort which Arthur appears to experience among them. Maybe its just my modern prejudices showing through, but I thought the author included this stuff more in the spirit of a pro-forma nod to the legendary magic, to explain it to us moderns, because what, afterall, is an Arthurian tale without its mysterious wizard and enchantresses? Yet it's ultimately unconvincing & rather silly. Living in filthy hovels in the earth among the Faerie, surrounded by one's cattle and sheep may be okay to those who haven't lived differently, but few will choose it when they have other options. Arthur's difficulty in forsaking this life because of its spiritual quality just didn't ring true. (Witness the rapid demise of this form of life wherever primitive nomads encounter more modern lifestyles in our time.) Still, this provides the author one means of imparting what he seems to believe are the necessary, traditional magic and fantasy elements. While my preferences lean toward books which truly smell of their times (and this one is an historical/fantasy novel told by an Arthur with a deceptively modern sensibility), I thought it actually did work, and that it manages to convince and carry the reader into a reasonable facsimile of what Arthurian Britain may have been like. Not all that easy a task, as numerous failed Arthur tales have shown us. -- Stuart W. Mirsky (mirsky@ix.netcom.com

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About the reviewer
Stuart W. Mirsky ()
Ranked #230
I'm a retired bureaucrat (having served, most recently, as an Assistant Commissioner in amunicipal agency in a major Northeastern American city). In 2002 I took an early retirement to pursue a lifelong … more
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ISBN-10: 038517070X
ISBN-13: 978-0385170703
Author: Parke Godwin
Genre: Science Fiction & Fantasy
Publisher: Doubleday
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