Avalon: The Return of King Arthur

Avalon: The Return of King Arthur

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by Stephen R. Lawhead, Steve Lawhead
     
 

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It has been fortold: In the hour of Britain's greatest need, King Arthur will return to rescue his people.

In Portugal, the reprobate King Edward the Ninth has died by his own hand.

In England, a dark scenario conceived by the power-hungry Prime Minister, Thomas Waring, is about to be realized: the total destruction of the

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Overview

It has been fortold: In the hour of Britain's greatest need, King Arthur will return to rescue his people.

In Portugal, the reprobate King Edward the Ninth has died by his own hand.

In England, a dark scenario conceived by the power-hungry Prime Minister, Thomas Waring, is about to be realized: the total destruction of the British monarchy in the twenty-first century.

And in the Scottish Highlands, a mystical emissary named Mr. Embries—better known as "Merlin"—informs a young captain that he is next in line to occupy the throne. For James Arthur Stuart is not the commoner he has always believed himself to be—he is Arthur, the legendary King of Summer, reborn. But the road to England's salvation is rocky and dangerous, with powerful waiting to ambush: Waring and his ruthless political machine...and the agents of an ancient, far more potent evil. For Arthur is not the only one who has returned from the mists of legend. And Merlin's magic is not the only sorcery that has survived the centuries.

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Editorial Reviews

Carolyn Cushman
This is primarily a tale of political maneuvering, with the new Arthur's big battle a heroic charge against skinheads interfering with his speech in Hyde Park....Overall, this is a mixed effort, a very promising idea...
Locus
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this rousing postcript to Lawhead's bardic Pendragon Cycle (Taliesin, Merlin, Arthur, Pendragon, Grail), such a monstrous evil stalks near-future Britain that an ancient Welsh prophecy will be fulfilled: the Thames will reverse its course, Avalon will rise again from the cold gray sea and Arthur will return. A series of Royals so rotten that the Brits can't wait to dump the whole stinking lot enables scheming Prime Minister Waring to creep--trick by political dirty trick--toward Magna Carta II, the abolition of the monarchy. Far in the Highlands, though, former career officer James Arthur Stuart feels destiny stir within him. He is Arthur, come again to exalt Britain and its grand old values--goodness, compassion, mercy, charity and justice. Accompanied by his enigmatic adviser Embries, his boon drinking buddy Calum McKay and the lissome Jenny, James struggles to come into his own, proving his mettle against modern monsters: skinheads armed with pit bulls, the fickle hydra of the press and the redheaded "total dish" Moira, Arthur's old witchy nemesis who destroyed Camelot. By the time James ousts Moira's insidiously treacherous buffalo-wing- and pizza-chomping politicos, Lawhead makes even aristocracy-phobes want to stand up at the skirl of the pipes and cheer on the eternal virtues James represents. In revisiting nearly every romantic Arthurian clich and playing off snappy contemporary derring-do against the powerful shining glimpses of the historical Arthur he created, Lawhead pulls off a genuinely moving parable of good and evil. (Sept.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
In a near-future Britain, the death of King Edward IX throws the succession into disarray until a young man named James Arthur Stewart discovers his identity as the reborn King Arthur and claims his rightful throne. Aided by his counselor Myrddin Embries, the new king seeks to restore faith in the monarchy as well as a sense of justice to a land beleaguered by despair. The author of the popular "Pendragon Cycle" takes his Arthurian interests one step further as he explores the ramifications of a legend come to life in the modern world. Infused with Christian overtones, Lawhead's latest novel should appeal to fans of Arthurian fantasy. Recommended. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 5/15/99.] Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Historical/futuristic Arthuriana from the author of Grail, 1997, etc. In the not-too-distant future, Britain's drunken reprobate King Edward IX blows out his brains in a villa on Madeira. He has no heirs, and was secretly helped on his way by Prime Minister Thomas Waring (an anti-monarchist nursing ambitions to become Britain's first president). The mysteriously knowledgeable old Embries, however, insists that Captain James Arthur Stuart is the rightful King of Britain. Despite documentary proof, James is reluctant to go along, until Embries forces him to recall memories of his previous life—as King Arthur! Embries, of course, is Merlin. James's soon-to-be wife is Guinevere, and so forth. So James, proclaiming himself the true Christian King of Avalon, raises his standard against modern cynicism to battle not only the devious Waring but also the reborn witch Morgan le Fay. Pleasant but far from gripping, with the necessary inference that Lawhead's purpose is more agitprop than storytelling.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780380802975
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
12/28/2000
Edition description:
Reissue
Pages:
496
Product dimensions:
4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.99(d)

Read an Excerpt

One

Even as a child, James could remember feeling that some mysterious power held his fate in strong, infallible hands. Perhaps a youth spent in the Highlands-where ghosts and Fair Folk still haunt the hidden glens, and the quaint predictions of country sages and seers find enthusiastic reception among the locals-had shaped him more than he imagined. Superstition clings to the ancient hills like the gorse and heather, and it would be unusual indeed if an impressionable youngster did not imbibe something of his surroundings.

He did not ask for second sight; he never sought it, but simply accepted it as a feature of his unique being. In time, he learned that not everyone possessed the power of the fiosachd—Gaelic for "the knowing." It covers a range of subtle manifestations-some physical, some mentalwhich most people view as extraordinary. As a child, however, James did not think himself unusual; he merely considered his gift a sign intended to confirm his special existence. Children are self-absorbed creatures, true enough, yet many was the time he had dreamed of greatness. Many was the time he had awakened in the night to the knowledge that his soul was destined for a higher purpose.

Of course, every child entertains similar thoughts of grandeur. Growing up, however, dulls the secret. insistence; life's harsher lessons teach us we are not so special after all. Sooner or later, we arrive at the cold realization that we will never be the first astronaut to set foot on Mars; we will not be the doctor whose miracle cure rids the world of cancer; we will not win fame and fortune and the eternal adoration of the masses through thewondrous artistry of our writing, singing, or acting.

Despite this—despite all evidence to the contraryJames never outgrew his belief that something amazing would happen to him one day. Although he did come to understand the natural limitations of circumstance, and the extreme randomness of opportunity, deep in his inmost being the belief in his own particular destiny doggedly persisted. Like the fiosachd, he was born with it, and it never deserted him. He had always known his life would end in one of two ways: triumph or tragedy. One or the other, but nothing less.

This produced a curious bravado. Once, when as a freshly commissioned officer with the UN peacekeeping force in Afghanistan, Captain Stuart was leading his small company of men down one of the many shattered streets of Kabul, the fiosachd began jangling like crazy. He recognized this as its usual manifestation—a sharp tingling or squirming sensation on the back of his neck or down between his shoulder blades-and by it he knew, as the company approached a deserted intersection, that they would be ambushed by snipers. The flesh between his shoulder blades began twitching, and in his mind's eye he saw, as if in the very room with them, six black-turbaned rebels crouching at the windows of a bombed-out apartment block across the street.

He halted the company, chose two men to help him reconnoiter, and the three of them circled around and came into the building from the back. They climbed three floors up a mangled fire escape and crept down a blackened hallway to the room where James knew he would find the rebels. Without the slightest hesitation, he put his hand to the doorknob, pushed open the door, and strode into the room, demanding their surrender.

The six snipers were so surprised, they threw down their rifles and gave themselves up without protest. James' men were likewise amazed; afterwards they made out that he was the fearless hero—a latter-day John Wayne beating back a war party of bloodthirsty Apaches with bare hands and a rifle butt. He won a commendation for saving the lives of a dozen men that day and capturing a valuable rebel cell without firing a shot.

He was also given a citation for valor—a fine gesture but one James felt superfluous. Although, as a career officer, he recognized the tremendous risk—of all the possible outcomes of such an action, the one actually resulting was the least likely-he knew in his bones it was not courage that had sustained him but simple conviction: he knew what lay behind the door and, just as surely, he knew his life would not end in that room.

Even James—who understood better than anyone else the peculiarities of his special gift—accepted the extreme improbability of his childhood intimations of greatness ever coming to fruition. After all, it is one thing to pretend oneself a prince or a pirate; but who, in all sanity, could imagine—much less orchestrate-the extraordinary interplay of incident and accident, chance and serendipity, as well as the immense complexity of enterprise needed to make such a pretense possible in reality?

That this dream should become solid waking reality seemed no less incredible to James than it would have to anyone else. Although he experienced it daily, he did not pretend to fathom it. If pressed for an explanation, he would only shake his head and say that there were forces in this universe which even the most gifted among us apprehend but dimly ... and the rest of us not at all.

Privately, however, deep in his secret heart, he thought that if there was a higher power at work in the world, shaping men to its purpose, then might we not apprehend it in action from time to time? And if so, might not that action look suspiciously like destiny?

Like everyone else in Britain, James learned of the King's death from television. It was a cold Thursday night in November, and he was at the Pipe & Drum with Calum and Douglas, watching Hearts in action against Celtic on bigscreen TV Aberdeen was down by one and mounting an attack in the closing seconds of the first half when the picture blanked and a Stand By sign flashed on.

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Meet the Author

Stephen R. Lawhead is an internationally acclaimed author of mythic history and imaginative fiction. His works include Byzantium and the series The Pendragon Cycle, The Celtic Crusades, and The Song of Albion. Lawhead makes his home in Austria with his wife.

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Avalon 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 25 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Warning, people that are looking for dragons and what have you, turn away now! I've seen some of the reviews for this and I think it's rather funny. People keep commenting that this book lacks depth. How can that be? I think some of the readers of this book are looking for high fantasy. But Lawhead was looking for a more logical, realistic approach to things, which he accomplishes superbly with his great interaction in politics and media. The characters in this story do not lack depth. In fact, I would say that the beloved characters of 'The Pendragon Cycle' are only supported and built up even more by their modern-day counterparts in this book. Obviously, people that don't understand much about the House of Commons or Great Britain's political system are not going to like this. This takes a firm understanding of Britain's system (and the way those lovely Brits can be!) as well as an open mind. Lawhead comes off with a more realistic approach to things in this book. I would say that's why people tend to trash it. However, if you're looking for a more logical approach to Arthur's return (at least more logical than some boy finding a magical grail or something to that effect), then by all means, buy this book and read it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
After reading Lawhead's 'Pendragon Cycle' I had high expectations for this follow-up book. They were not met. The plot is, at best, loosely woven & the characters lack depth. Moreover, the back cover is met unaccompanied by that critical sense of finality often found in storytelling. I was given the distinct impression that the author had an unwavering deadline hot on his heels. Though King Arthur is always worth my time, I would advise selective readers to move on.
Lawhead_Fan More than 1 year ago
I put off reading this book because of some of the negative and disheartening reviews - I am so disappointed I waited. It is a very satisfying ending to the Pendgragon Cycle series. If you loved the books as much as I did and were left bereft at the original ending of the series I think you'll enjoy the way Lawhead revives the characters and brings the story full circle while continuing with the original tenor of high morals and values he weaves throughout the series. This is a must read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I found this book to be dreadfully disappointing. Being a great fan of the previous books in this series, I looked forward to a jolly good read. Alas, this was not to be. From the first, this book failed to grab my attention, I kept waiting to be brought into the story, it never happened, I finished the book out of a sense of duty rather than enjoyment. The characters are one-dimensional, the plot devices are pedantic and leave holes large enough to drive a lorry through. The ending was less an ending than 'the author stopped writing', perhaps he'd hit the required length for this to qualify as a book? I am glad that I read this book, even more glad that I took this book out of the library first. I may purchase this book at some point, but will certainly wait for the paperback edition. Other authors have done the idea of Arthur reborn so much better, such as Molly Cochran and Dennis Lee Anderson.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thought it was great. If you 'just like King Arthur stories' this is worth the time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Mark Twain once said that a man who uses profanity shows his ignorance...mmm Although I have read almost all of Stephen Lawheads' books and have enjoyed all of them this one was hard to enjoy. The story line and character development are great it's the repeated use of profanity that was not so enjoyable. Please don't miss understand my comment I'm no holy roller by no means but the use of profanity to me just seems so ignorant. By the use of such language Mr. Lawhead makes some of his characters come across as belligerent. O well I guess you got to fill in with what ever comes to mind to get all the pages in for the book contract.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Although I enjoyed the book itself, Lawheads editor should be fired for not correcting the many mis-spellings and missed punctuation marks. I also thought the book could have been shortened by quite a few pages by leaving out a lot of the "filler". It seemed to have too much description of mundane elements of the book that were not necessary to the plot. That being said however, it was still a good read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was the most dissapionting book in the whole seiries. I am 13 an I read Taliesin in one week! The I got Merlin, Arthur, Pendragon and The Grail for my birthday. It thook me two weeks to read all four! The I rented Avallon at the library. It was very dissapointing. I think Stephen R. Lawhead should have ended the seiries with The Grail.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Although I enjoy almost anything lawhead writes I found this one a little lacking. The plot is a wonderful perspective but it seems lawhead 'grinded' this book out instead of establishing his skill of a engulfing world like his pendragen series and the dragon king series. It okay but he could do so much better.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago