Welcome to the dark side of Camelot.
Gwynna is just a girl who is forced to run when her village is attacked and burns to the ground. To her horror, she is discovered in the wood. But it is Myrddin the bard who has found her, a traveler and spinner of tales. He agrees to protect Gwynna if she will agree to be bound in service to him. Gwynna is frightened but intrigued-and says yes-for this Myrddin serves the young, rough, and powerful Arthur. In the course of their travels, Myrddin transforms Gwynna into the mysterious Lady of the Lake, a boy warrior, and a spy.
Here Lies Arthurby Philip Reeve
Here Lies Arthur is essentially a tragedy--no shining Camelots here. Told mostly from the point of view of Gwyn, a young girl, it is a jaded take on what is usually a candy-coated story. Arthur is no hero, but a ruthless barbarian; Myrddin is no magician, but a bard that spins tales to create the hero he longs for. The use of Welsh names disguises the characters readers are familiar with in the common legend; this lends interest to the story because the reader is not certain how Mr. Reeves characters match up, especially when the underlying "truth" barely resembles the stories told. The writing is superb, as usual for this author.
Although not all will like this take on the Arthurian legend, I found the re-telling unique and refreshing. It ends quietly and soberly, a solemn testament to the power of stories.
Profanity/Language: 2 religious exclamations; 5 scatological words.
Violence/Gore: Scene of raiders burning, beating a horse, implied death (general descriptions); reference to the heads of the defeated being spiked; sounds of battle heard and later bodies of the dead (mention of blood) are seen and reports of death; a rival's head is hung from a saddle; tale told involving the cutting off a head w/ green blood; character stomps and kicks a man's face until it is a mask of blood and teeth are scattered; general reports of war and pillaging; battle w/ items removed from the dead afterwards; report someone killed another; punch in nose, blood mentioned; scene of raiders/fighting with death by sword, spear through leg, burning, reports of pillaging, and death; graphic, bloody description of wound; husband hits wife; character kills another and cuts off head, mention of splattering blood; men are sent to kill someone; report of man thrown from horse and head injury; man strikes a teenage girl; character drowns self; report a leader had a priest beaten; hitting and kicking; 3 page battle with spears, arrows, some description and death/injury; report of pillaging, screams, death; sounds of battle heard, bodies of dead seen with some brief but gory description.
Sex/Nudity: Reference to bastard parentage; references to lust, slipping into someone's bed; clothes taken off to swim, change clothes, etc. (non-sexual); character begins to menstruate; married woman kisses and embraces a younger man who is not her husband; married woman meets unmarried younger man often and it is understood that they are having an affair, no detailed scenes; character stripes naked to create an illusion and male character notices character's breasts w/ 1 sentence description; character kisses another; characters often dress as members of opposite sex as a disguise.
Mature Subject Matter:
Death, murder, infidelity, war, pillaging, suicide.
Alcohol / Drug Use:
Characters drink wine, etc.
Reviewed By Cindy