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Posted September 16, 2009
A new take on the legend of Arthur
Radford deviates quite liberally from the Arthur legend we all know, but not enough so that the story isn't recognizable. And she takes one liberty that is essential to the plot of this and the other books in this series. In the actual legend Merlin never married, nor did he have any children - though the woman Nimue did indeed cause his downfall by seducing him. Here, Merlin breaks his vows of celibacy before the story of Arthur begins (which we learn in a brief prologue) and is punished for it by the gods.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
The result of that breach of faith is his daughter, Arylwren (Wren for short), who is the actual central figure of this story. She wanders the country with her father, studies in Avalon for several years, and becomes a powerful sorceress in her own right - powerful enough to challenge both Nimue and the woman history will know as Morgan Le Fey. But her life is not a happy one. She is forced into marriage with a man she cannot love and who treats women like cattle, while the man she truly loves marries a lady named Guinevere. Nevertheless, Wren does her part to hold Arthur's Britain together for as long as she and her Da can - but in the end, as we all know, the Golden Age is doomed. Not, however, before Wren finds some happiness by perpetuating her family's line.
Radford's first book in the series "Merlin's Descendants" is a grand beginning to what promises to be a wonderful story. This is by far the best feminist take on the Arthurian legend since Marion Zimmer Bradley's "The Mists of Avalon" and its succeeding tales. I definitely look forward to the next book.