Monday, December 8, 2008

Here Lies Arthur by Philip Reeve (4/5 stars)

I got this book as an uncorrected proof through the Amazon Vine program. This was a really good book. It is a very unique take on the tale of Arthur and his "knights".

This book focuses around the life of Gwyna. When her village is burned down by Arthur and his warband she is pulled aside by Myrddin and asked to aid him in a ruse as the Lady of the Lake after Myrddin sees Gwyna swimming down the river from her village. Myrddin decides to keep Gwyna around after the ruse is accomplished and from there on Gwyna undergoes many transformations first to a boy and then to a handmaiden under her apprenticeship with Myrddin.

This was a very well-written book and a very unqiue retelling of the Arthur tale. I have to say that this is probably the most realistic and believable story of Arthur that I have ever read. I really could see Arthur's life and legend forming as it is described in this book; much more than I could actually believe the ancient tales themselves. Gwyna is a great character with a frankness, honesty, and intelligence that serves her well thoughout her tale.

Overall this is a great book. The only complaint I have about it is that it is listed as a children's book. Realistically this is not the first book on Arthurian legend that I would like to expose a child to. I think this is an excellent read if you are framiliar with the legend and the awe behind it. But, to put it bluntly, this story rips out any of the fantasy or awe of the legend of Arthur. It takes everything magical away from those tales and exposes it as the harsh reality that it more likely was. I personally would not want this to be my son's first experience with the tale of Arthur. I want him to believe in wizards, knights, princesses, and noble heros while he can. When he is older, if he wants to hear another version of this tale, then this would be appropriate. But why steal away the magic of the tale of King Arthur? I mean truthfully, although I liked this story and I know it is fictional, reading it made something magical fade for me. It was just too likely that this was the true story and personally I like to pretend that King Arthur really was the figure pictured in legend.

An excellent book! Definitely makes me want to check out more books by Reeve!

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