Author: Jane Yolen
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
How Received: bought
The newly crowned King Arthur has yet to win the support of the people. Merlin must do something before the king is betrayed, or murdered, or--worst of all--gets married. So Merlin creates a trick: a sword magically placed into a slab of rock that only Arthur can withdraw. Then he lets it be known that whosoever removes the blade will rule all of England, and invites any man who would dare, to try to pull out the sword.
But then someone else pulls the sword out first...
Issue number one with this has nothing to do with the book itself; it has to do with the summary of the book. Oooo, who pulled the sword out before Arthur!? How is Camelot going to deal with such an occurance?!
Well, they're not, because it happens in the last bloody chapter. The book's summary has nothing to do with the book itself. The actual book is about Arthur's dealings with Morgause and the mysterious young boy Gawen and his interactions with Merlin.
Excalibur plays a part, but it's a side-story, not the actual one. The book itself is about Gawen, but starts with Gawain, and focuses lots on Arthur, but... it's just strangely organized.
And while I enjoyed reading it -- there's no denying that the concept presented in the summary was interesting, and the real plot was well executed -- the characters and writing were not particularly memorable, especially compared to other incarnations of the same characters.
And the BIG REVEAL! at the end about the sword... wasn't actually about the sword. I loved what it was, but it then changed the entire personality of a certain character, which didn't make much sense to me. The last few scenes could have been omitted with a much better conclusion to the story. (No spoilers in this reviews; sorry folks.)
While it is a good read for Arthurian fans - hell, any incarnation of an Arthurian legend is a good read for Arthurian fans - I just can't see anybody else managing to sit through all character shifts and plot-that-wasn't.
Overall Rating & Final Comments: 4/10. Interesting concept, but nondescript characters and a constantly shifting viewpoint make this a no.
Have you read any good Arthurian retellings lately?