by Philip Reeve
Scholastic, Dec. 2008
Awards & Honors:
2008 Carnegie Medal, 2008 Booklist Editors’ Choice: Books for Youth; 2008 School Library Journal Best Books, Kirkus Reviews Best Young Adult Book of 2008; 2009 ALA Best Books for Young Adults
Summary in a Sentence:
Gwynna is forced to flee her village, but when she is discovered hiding in the woods by Myrddin, a bard, he swears to protect her as long as she agrees to bind herself to his service while he transforms young Arthur into a heroic king.
Countless retellings of the Arthurian legend abound in the literary world, and I know some of you are ready to leave this review behind before you finish it. Before you move on, let me tell you why this book is just a little different than all the rest and worth a second chance. First of all, thank you, Philip Reeve for not making this novel another over-romanticized, plotless tale of love. I've read quite enough of that sort, thank you very much.
Secondly, and most important, is Reeve's characterization of Arthur. If you are looking for a valiant and gallant myth of a man, do not come searching here. Arthur is a brute who is vying for power and dominance the only way he knows how- by looting nearby villages and taking whatever he wants and needs in order to attain more power. Myrddin, more commonly known as the bard Merlin, meets Gwynna, a servant girl, and takes her under his wing. It is through Gwynna's eyes that we the readers witness the real story behind the legends of Arthur, from the Lady of the Lake to the sword in the stone to Guinevere.
This book is a refreshing revision on the Arthurian legend and will be enjoyed by all fans of historical fantasy as well as those curious about King Arthur.
You might also like:
- The Sword in the Stone by T.H. White
- The Seeing Stone by Kevin Crossley-Holland
- Sword of the Rightful King by Jane Yolen