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Posted May 13, 2013
My familiarity with the legend of King Arthur is lacking compared to most. OK, let's be honest, I've only read parts of The Once and Future King, seen The Sword in the Stone, but have Monty Python and the Holy Grail practically memorized. Hardly the background to delve into some alternate tellings of the legend, but enough to know the character and story to get me through. That can be seen as a downside because I have no authoritative basis of comparison for this story, or a good thing for te same reason.
Because of this lack of knowledge of the Arthurian Legend, I won't speak much to that in the book, but focus on it as a stand alone story. I felt that Tyson's tale began strong and ended strong, but the middle of the story was very lacking. There is a good deal of both Arthurian and Celtic legend involved here, and the character of Peter does a fantastic job of fleshing these out for the uninitiated, but once he meets the modern Arthur, I felt that the story fell apart. What should have been thrilling moments and a dramatic climax in the midst of the story left me with a "...and then stuff happened..." feeling. It was as though several chapters were missing in the middle of the book that left me wondering how we ended up at the castle or Arthur's birth and the penultimate confrontation.
What is very strong in this book, however, is the development of the characters of Peter Quince and his foil the mysterious Thistle. By the end, their relationship makes a great deal of sense, and the growth exhibited by both is fascinating, especially when placed in the context of the Celtic folklore and the "Fairy Faith" that drives the narrative. My only question with this underlying story was the need to place political intrigue and a dystopian future into the mix. In reality, both of these concepts which were major selling points to me when I considered The Never King were easily forgotten and there is no reason why the story would be able to stand without both. I am looking forward to an anticipated sequel to see where the characters will end up and how the modern retelling of the legends proceed. Hopefully the stories will continue to grow stronger as a series develops.
Posted January 21, 2013
If you are wanting the same Arthurian stories you read as a child, pass this book by. You will find no round tables, no knights within. By integrating elements of science fiction, fantasy, mythology, world religions, espionage and a touch of armageddon, the author has managed to take an old story and make it new again.
The main character, surprisingly is not King Arthur himself, but a modern day historian, who is in no way as perfect as most of the knights of yore. In fact, the historian, as well as most of the other characters, could be people you see on the street or an asylum every day. The characters are likable and for the most part the story flows well. Some things you have to give a little on and trust the author will get there. For me, I wanted to see much more detail. When I finished the story, I felt I had finished only the beginning of a story that has much more to be told.