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Review by: Ilaria on Oct. 09, 2013 :
I miss 20 pages to the end but I wanted to write something about it immediately because I am really loving this novel and my review may not be perfect, because I am not English, but I am extremely glad I could read this story.
The novel is the first of a trilogy (I suppose) which I hope will continue soon. It is about Bediere who is narrator and protagonist. In the story an old Bedivere, post Camlann, decides to write down his memories of Arthur and Camelot.
One of the things Ioved a lot of this way of narration was how Bediere often compared reality to the legend, talking about what people say happened and what really happened. Sometimes the narrator doesn't remember everything, being Bedivere quite old, and trust the legends or what his friends told him (for example in a point, he says "Tristan said that... it seems strange to me and I didn't rememeber it, so I asked Tristan what he said. But we all know that Tristan is a liar" or something like this). The book narrates from Bedivere's childhood, alongside his best friend Arthur, Arthur's adoptive brother Kay and Ector to Arthur as king, in his first years of kingship.
I would absolutely recommend this book to everyone. Of course there were things I didn't like, for example how sometimes the characters talked in a bit unrealistic way just to give information to the reader, but generically speaking it's a good book.
I appreciated immensely how Guinevere and Morgana were 'of the guys'. Let me explain.
in a lot (all of them?) books I've read, Arthur and male friends meet each other when Arthur becomes king and the Guinevere arrives (and Morgana arrives etc.). Here instead Arthur meets Tristan, Lancelot, Guinevere, Morgana, Gawain and Agravain before he finds out about being king. Guinevere is part of the group, she is still a child but she is part of the group even more than Morgana who has less adentures with them. Also, both of them are wonderfully described round characters.
The author also manages to narrate a story that I don't think I have never seen in modern arthurian retellings: the giant of Mont Saint Michel. Convinced by Guinevere's reasonings and compassion, the gang of guys decide to save a girl and his brother from a cruel king and in the story Bedivere loses his hand. Also the sword in the stone is retold in a very imaginative way.
I still have my doubts about Merlin, because in this novel he travels and lives with different identities with each one of the characters to create them, instruct and educate them for the future he wants and both Morgana (who is Arthur's lover) and Nimue (who appears by the end) are seers so know of that future. I am not a fan of 'I slept with my brother because it was destiny that Mordred killed him' buy we'll see!
Bedivere is a wonderful protagonist, with the right balance (at least for me!) of post-losing-hand angst and loyalty for Arthur and need to fight. I can't wait for the next books, to know what will happen to them and especially to Guinevere who in this novel is clearly infatuated with Bedivere (who is uncomfortable with the tought knowing she is a child).
As someone who likes to collect arthurian novel and who read a lot of arthuriana I can say that I am immensely glad to have had an encounter with this one!