Review Blog

Sep 29 2009

Here lies Arthur by Philip Reeve

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Scholastic, 2007.ISBN 978 140710 358 7
(Ages: 10+) Highly recommended. One of those books I had heard lots about so bought it to read. For those wrapped up in the Arthur legends then here is a definitive book that makes you want to reread the Arthur books and legends of old. Reeve has made Arthur just like a media personality or politician, and taken apart the hype that surrounds him, showing how it is all generated by his publicity man, in this case, Myrddin (Merlin) He creates stories about Arthur to tell at camp fires and towns in the area where Arthur is the local war lord. Myrddin is convinced that Britain needs an Arthur to drive out the Saxons and make Britain great under one ruler. And doesn't that sound familiar!
In this story, Myrddin is at one of Arthur's pillages of a community, when he spies a young slave girl trying to escape. She jumps into the lake and holds her breath long enough to swim a long way down the river, holding her breathe it until she can surface out of harm's way. Here Myrddin conceives a plot to engrandise Arthur using her ability for swimming under water. So the Lady of the Lake is born, and Gwyna, now called Gwyn becomes Myrddin's servant.
When Gwyn becomes older, his femalenees becomes more apparent so Myrddin thinks to installs him as Arthur's wife's servant, and so is privy to what is happening in Gwenhwyfar's quarters. But Gwyna becomes enamoured of Peri, a lad she found dressed as a woman by his mother, to avoid being taken as a warrior.
The story weaves back and forward, like a tale told at a campfire, with plots and sub plots brimming over, wrapping up the Arthurian legends in a way not told before. It is engrossing, entrancing and credible. The perspective given by Reeve is unlike any other, but like others is based on a great deal of research, many of the stories he tells being found in old manuscripts. His character of Gwyna/Gwyn is fictional, but then what is the story of Arthur, but a wonderful old tale.
Fran Knight,

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