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Here Lies Arthur (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition)

Here Lies Arthur (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition)

3.5 16
by Philip Reeve

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When her village is attacked and burned, Gwyna seeks protection from the bard Myrddin, who uses Gwyna in his plan to transform young Arthur into the heroic King Arthur.


When her village is attacked and burned, Gwyna seeks protection from the bard Myrddin, who uses Gwyna in his plan to transform young Arthur into the heroic King Arthur.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

The last word is "Hope," yet Reeve (Mortal Engines) injects deep cynicism into every other phrase of this Arthurian fable. As he tells it, Myrddin the "enchanter" is a charlatan of high degree, possessing no magic but a mastery of storytelling and fraud. Gwyna, the narrator, is perhaps nine years old when Myrddin sees her swim down a river to escape a house set afire by callous, marauding warlord Arthur. Myrddin promptly disguises her first as the Lady of the Lake and then as a boy apprentice. Gwyna soon learns to trust no one, doubt everything and scorn both male and female roles. She even becomes skeptical of the empire-building ambition behind Myrddin's efforts to recast Arthur's unremarkable exploits as the stuff of legend. Nodding to canon and history while not particularly following either (Lancelot and Morgan le Fay are notably absent), Reeve, like Myrddin, turns hallowed myth and supple prose to political purposes, neatly skewering the modern-day cult of spin and the age-old trickery behind it. Smart teens will love this. Ages 12-up. (Nov.)

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Children's Literature - Ashley Black
Young Gwyna runs for her life when her home and village are set on fire during a raid, and finds shelter with a man named Myrddin, a bard in King Arthur's band. Myrddin, who works every day telling elaborate stories of King Arthur and his battles to all who will listen, sees Gwyna as someone to enhance his stories even more. He convinces her to act as his servant boy and go by the name Gwyn. She quickly finds herself pulled into the dramatic world of King Arthur and his court, witnessing the antics and violence firsthand. As she grows up and finds herself showing signs of womanhood, Myrddin allows her to go back to her female appearance playing the part of Gwyna, Gwyn's half sister. The story follows Gwyna's new friendship and struggles as she follows King Arthur's army, while she simultaneously faces immense struggles with gender issues as she searches for her true identity along the way. These struggles are best illustrated when she constantly switches between a young boy and girl, trying to behave with and look at her friends in the way that is fitting for that specific gender. This sets the stage for the most intriguing issue in the novel: which gender will Gwyna ultimately find best suits her life? This story looks past the majestic classic tales of King Arthur and focuses on Arthur the man, and the controversies that surrounded him, setting it apart from other books written about this heroic figure. Reviewer: Ashley Black
VOYA - Shari Fesko
Reeve delivers a thought-provoking new take on the many legends of King Arthur. Narrator Gywnaa is a mere girl when she is forced out of her master's home by fire and angry warriors. She is found in the wood by Arthur's personal storyteller Myrddin, whose tales of Arthur's many mystical feats are the real source of his power. No sooner is Gwynaa found, when Myrddin decides to have her take a lead role in his stories as the Lady of the Lake. He stages an elaborate production for all to see, which convinces Arthur himself that the sword Calibrun will make him unbeatable by any foe. Reeve recreates characters from the stories of old, but Arthur himself is not at all magical, rather just a very tough, controlling warrior with a hot temper and a lust for wealth. His original characters are equally as compelling, most notably Gwynaa, a believable heroine who plays each role from Lady of the Lake to boy servant with complete conviction. Reeve is incredibly skilled at establishing relationships between his characters while still keeping the action moving. The author's note explains that the tale is not based on fact but gives a great deal of information on the roots of many of the characters. A pronunciation guide is also included, which is helpful in figuring out how to decipher the complicated Welsh names. Fans of Arthurian lore are sure to embrace this latest offering on the mythical king. Reviewer: Shari Fesko
KLIATT - Paula Rohrlick
Reeve, the author of the excellent Mortal Engines quartet and the Larklight series, turns his attention here to a different fantasy, the legend of King Arthur—but Reeve's Arthur is a far less noble, far more brutish man than in other retellings. In Reeve's dark reimagining, set in post-Roman Britain around 500 AD, when belief in the old gods vies with Christianity, Arthur is a marauding warlord, a crude thug. His legend is deliberately crafted by Myrddin the bard (possibly a real historical character, who was the prototype for Merlin, Reeve mentions in an author's note), who has an agenda of his own in elevating Arthur to heroic status. "Men do love a story," Myrddin explains to Gwynna, a girl he comes across hiding in the woods when her village is burned. Her ability to swim plants an idea in Myrddin's fertile brain: he makes Gwynna into the Lady of the Lake, to further burnish Arthur's legend. He then takes the girl with him to Arthur's camp, disguising her as a boy warrior; and when she outgrows the disguise, he has her attend Arthur's wife Gwenhwyfar (Guinevere) so that she can be a spy for him. Gwynna learns a great deal about the power of story from Myrddin, and comes to the aid of handsome, foolish Peredur (Perceval), but even she can't save Gwenhwyfar from Arthur's wrath when she has an affair with Bedwyr (Sir Bedivere/Lancelot). Reeve adds original new dimensions to the famous characters, fleshing them out into flawed, all-too-human people, and his language is powerful and poetic. Clever, observant Gwynna is the narrator, and we share her sorrow at the many tragedies she witnesses. As she learns, "in the end stories are all that matter," and she deliberately craftsher own legend about Gwenhwyfar for posterity. Reeve brings to life the gritty reality of the times, comparing the lives of women to the dangerous but often exciting lives of men, and describing the complex political alliances that are involved in conquest as well as the bloody battles. It's a marvelous read, unsentimental yet deeply moving, and it's sure to garner well-deserved awards. Reviewer: Paula Rohrlick
School Library Journal

Gr 8 Up

Reeve offers up a revisionist retelling of the Arthurian legend, set in southwest Britain in A.D. 500, and exposing the dark side of Camelot. Arthur is a brutal, bullying tyrant, and not terribly bright. His fame stems solely from the stories spun by Myrrdin, a traveling bard and trickster. But this story is not primarily Arthur's. It is Gwyna's, a child who is rescued by Myrddin when her village is sacked and burned. Myrrdin takes her under his care, disguising her first as the Lady of the Lake, and then as a boy. When adolescence arrives, Myrrdin reintroduces her to Arthur's court as a maid and she falls in love with Peredur, who has spent his childhood disguised as a girl. While the switching sexual identities may keep readers a bit off kilter, having the narrator be both Gwyn and Gwyna allows a dual perspective on Arthurian times. Reeve does not shy away from violence and gory battle scenes. When Arthur learns that his wife Gwenhwyfar is committing adultery with his young nephew, he beats and beheads Bedwyr in a particularly bloody episode. Gwenhwyfar is driven to suicide. Gwyna learns that Arthur's heroism and fame stem not from magic and noble deeds but rather from the stories Myrrdin spins. Indeed, with his death, she picks up his mantle. The power of stories is a theme of the novel. Reeve's usual lyrical, cinematic prose underscores the message that in the end perhaps they are the only things that matter. A multilayered tour de force for mature young readers.-Connie Tyrrell Burns, Mahoney Middle School, South Portland, ME

Product Details

Turtleback Books
Publication date:
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Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 7.80(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range:
13 - 17 Years

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Here Lies Arthur 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Here Lies Arthur is absolutely mind-blowing. It throws away the old, magical tale and potrays a much more vivid and historically accurate version of events. To me this should be the definitive story of King Arthur. The only negative things I have heard anyone say is that it protrays Arthur and Merlin as less then desirable characters. Such criticism completely misses the point of Here Lies Arthur, which is to make you think. This is a modern day masterpiece.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Here Lies Arthur is an Arthurian-legend novel in which a girl named Gwyna who is servant to the bard Myrddin (Merlin) and helps him try to use storytelling and trickery to make Arthur braver and nobler.This book was okay. I'm a fan of the Arthurian legends--the medieval romance ones--so the gritty, post-Roman, half-barbaric British culture (although probably more historically correct) turned me off a bit. However, there are some very sweet, touching moments and characters (like Peredur) who make the book worth reading.
Giced More than 1 year ago
This was surprisingly a great book. What started off as just a book to waste time and keep me from being lonely, actually ended up in a great adventure, telling the story of the cruelty and greed of men, the power of stories and words, and the difference between men and women. It is interesting seeing Arthur portrayed in such a different light.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I think that the book was very fun to read, and a delightful twist to what one usually reads about in King Arthur books. It twists character's personalities around and makes some seem like they are more bad than good, and make you question motives of the characters in question. I also found that it wasn't a difficult read but that it still made you think about what you know about the tales and made the characters seem more human with severe flaws. Some things just forced me to reread it and go "No Way!" -- in a good way of course. I do recommend this book to anyone that likes twists on old tales and stories we all know well, as well as King Arthur fans. Albeit a different way to show Arthur, it portrays human flaws very well.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
booky24 More than 1 year ago
I loved this book very much. The whole book was a good retelling of the well known tale of King Arther.
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ReviewYourBook.com More than 1 year ago
Here Lies Arthur
Philip Reeve
Scholastic Press, 2008
ISBN: 9780545093347
Reviewed by Debra Gaynor for ReviewYourBook.com, 2008
4 stars
Anew perspective of King Arthur¿
Philip Reeve offers a new perspective on King Arthur. Here Lies Arthur is a book for young adults. The story is told through the eyes of a young girl named Gwyna. Reeve¿s perspective of Arthur is not complimentary. This King is not easy to recognize; he is crude and barbaric. There is no magic in Reeve¿s Merlin.
Here Lies Arthur is a good read, but I found it hollow after growing up on The Midst of Avalon by Marion Bradley Zimmerman and Mary Stewart¿s, The Crystal Cave, The Hollow Hills, and The Last Enchantment. When I hear of Arthur, I want to think of him as noble and elegant. I want Merlin to be magical.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book completely destroys the story of King Arthur and make Merlin a lying, sneaky old man who spends his life spreading stories of Arthur and making him seem noble when he is really an evil, power-hungry warlord.