Bedivere Book One: The King's Right Hand


"I am neither historian nor bard. I am simply a man who was blessed to live at the time of King Arthur. You may have heard my name, though there are precious few stories told of my exploits. I need no tales, for I lived the greatest of them all.


"I am Bedivere, the King’s best friend, his right hand man. I was his horse lord and the first Knight of the Round Table. I was the first man to know him and the last man to see him alive. I followed his orders and carried his secrets. Where others saw only his crown I was privileged to know the man. This is my story.


"But my story is his story."




*****

Bedivere: The King's Right Hand is now available in a variety of ebook formats. To purchase and download a copy click the following links, or for Kindle, look for the widget on the right side of the screen.


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Cover by Dave Wachter - www.davedrawscomics.com


REVIEWS:

From Goodreads:

 
by 

34367827
's review 
Apr 23, 15

Read in April, 2015

There's a reason why some stories maintain their staying power: although we may have heard them often, there is something in them that keeps us coming back again and again. Contemporary authors are always finding new ways of approaching classic themes because there's just so much to work with. No one author, or even one generation, could mine it all.

Which brings us to Bedivere, an offering from local author Wayne Wise, whose writing is at its best when he is exploring this territory (see also King of Summer, which explores Arthurian themes in a contemporary context, and is also Quite Good). While there's canon lore on Bedivere, and Wise has clearly done his homework, there's a lot of wiggle room there, too, for imaginative storytelling. And that is precisely what we get here.

Bedivere, is mainly remembered for returning Excalibur to the Lady of the Lake at Arthur's death. Wise depicts him as an ordinary person who gets swept up into extraordinary things, by virtue of his friendship to Arthur. He's the kind of guy you want hanging around if you're High King: sensible, modest, gifted with horses, loyal, and not afraid of hard work. This is a neat perspective from which to explore people and personalities that have, over time, become larger than life.

It works REALLY well. As the novel begins, Bedivere, Arthur, and co. are just kids. The kind of world they live in demands certain things of them, and Merlin has done his best to prepare them. I really loved meeting each character, knowing who they would grow up to be, and what they would do, wondering how Wise would get us there (I'm a teensy bit impatient for the sequel, mostly because I liked being in this world Very Much).

The pacing is slow and measured, a nice long walk through the forest on a summer afternoon, and the tension between major plot points builds gradually. By the time you get to the end, you have a good sense of all the players, personalities, and plot threads, without ever feeling like you were whacked over the head with loads of exposition. This is no mean feat, as there was a LOT to set up. Wise's choice of where to end, and the way he wrote it, is just beautiful, and will touch any reader who has the slightest inkling of the sacred and/or ceremonial.

As much as it pains me, I have to ding one star for grammar errors. To be fair, they are common errors, and most people won't even spot them as such, but they are a little bit distracting in an otherwise excellent story. My red pencil and I cheerfully volunteer as tribute for Book 2.

But. If you need to leave the 21st century for a while and revisit classic themes and legends, this is a Very Good Choice, and it works on multiple levels. There's a good Arthurian fantasy here for people who enjoy that sort of thing, and there's an added layer of meaning for a certain type of reader (there's a lot of overlap between those two audiences, to be sure). In fact, Wise has cleverly done here what Merlin speaks of late in the novel: created a world that exists in two realities, which the reader is free to marry, or not, as s/he chooses. That's no mean feat. Try it on for size and see if you see what I see.




From Amazon:

5.0 out of 5 stars Heartfelt story of a knights memories.August 6, 2012
Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Bedivere Book One: The King's Right Hand (Kindle Edition)
Beautifully written. I stumbled upon this book by accident...or perhaps not. If you were enthralled by Gillian Bradshaw's Hawk, Mary Stewart's Merlin, or Sarah Luddington's Wolf (strong adult content); then Wayne Wise's Griflet will not disappoint (there is a twist to this one folks -- no spoilers here) Will anxiously await the coming books as Sir Bedivere slips his memories through the veil and into the hands of Wayne The Wise.



From Barnes and Noble:



 
Great story. Can't wait to read book two!



A wonderfully well told story from a perspective that I've never been
exposed to before in Arthurian fiction. The pages and the hours flew
by. This book is worth far more than $2.99. I can't wait for the
next in the series. Get busy, Wayne!




donnamab *****

Excellent- highly recommended

I've read many versions of the Arthurian story and this ranks with the best. The author has done an excellent job of weaving together traditional legends with original storytelling. The characters are well-drawn and fleshed out. and the action kept me turning the pages even when I should have been studying for a test. I particularly liked the way he acknowledged the opposing forces at work - pagan vs. christian, masculine vs. feminine - using the tensions to move the story with out taking over the story. All in all, an excellent effort. I'm looking forward to the next installment.



From Goodreads:

**** "I very much enjoyed this book, the author really made the character of Bedivere come alive and all the characters were well drawn, with the likable ones being very likable.

I haven't read an Arthurian tale that focuses on the view point of someone who knew Arthur from the beginning but not as king, so this was a fresh take on events from my point of view.

Since this is referred to as Book One, I hope that more is to come and will look forward to reading how Arthur's reign turns out and how the author deals with the well-known legends."


Posted on Smashwords:

Review by: Ilaria on Oct. 09, 2013 : star star star star star 
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.

And now
SPOILERS.

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!
*****

I have been a fan of the stories of King Arthur and Robin Hood since I was a kid. For whatever reason these tales of knights and archers and adventure have always appealed to me. Typical American kid of European descent of the 60's I guess. It falls in line with my lifelong love of comics. The Knights of the Round Table and the Merry Men were mythic prototypes for the superheroes I loved. These tales were the same. They instilled in me the concepts of justice, chivalry and fair play, and in the case of Robin Hood, a healthy questioning of authority.

I think these two characters represent a societal dynamic that we all understand. Arthur represents fair government, based on higher ideals, something we all long for in our leaders in the real world. The inevitable fall of Camelot probably speaks to how unlikely that is to ever really happen. Robin Hood is a cautionary tale of government gone wrong and the need we have to question it or to stand up against it when power is abused and the needs of the people are ignored in favor of the pocketbooks of those in charge.

But enough philosophizing... back to writing.

I've read a lot of Arthurian novels in the last thirty years or so. Some of them I have loved and others were mediocre to just downright bad. What continues to fascinate me about these stories is how they are able to stand up to countless interpretations. It seems that there is something eternal about the symbols and the relationships that they continue to inspire and speak to our lives. This was true in the Middle Ages, it was true during Victorian times and has continued on to the present. For those of us who read these stories, or see the movies, I think we see ourselves in the struggles. We have all found ourselves in relationships, torn between love and duty. We are all on a quest for our own Holy Grails.

In the 80's I was introduced to the works of Joseph Campbell and Carl Jung and these gave me a mythic framework to further understand the psychological underpinning of these tales and to make some connections about why they work and speak to us. A lot of these symbolic, mythically esoteric ideas form some of the core ideas I play with in the book.

Also in the 80's there were two very specific comic book series that showed me that the Arthurian legends were not limited to simple retellings of the core stories. There were all sorts of ways the mythology could be used. Camelot 3000 by Mike Barr and Brian Bolland was a story set in the future where Arthur, The Once and Future King, returned in the time of Britain's greatest need. Many of the knights of the Round Table had been reincarnated as new people. This was a retelling of the classic stories in a new setting and as such was very eye-opening to me about the potential of these symbols.

The other series was Mage: The Hero Discovered by Matt Wagner. In it a young man named Kevin Matchstick was drawn into the epic struggle Good versus Evil. It was revealed that he bore the power of the Pendragon. He was not Arthur reincarnated, but he carried the same animating, universal force that Arthur did. Excalibur appeared as a baseball bat. I have a lot more to say about Mage, but this isn't the place for it. Suffice to say, this approach to Arthur was perhaps the single most significant book I read in terms of influencing the way I wanted to incorporate myth into my own work.

It was the approach I took with King of Summer. After writing KoS I really thought I was done with King Arthur, at least in terms of writing. I knew I would continue to read new books as they came out, but I had told my Arthurian story, case closed.

But it wasn't to be.

There are SPOILERS ahead, so you might want to stop reading here if you have any interest in reading the book.

Writing KoS made me think about the various Arthurian characters even more deeply than I had before. Like anyone, I have my favorite knights and tales, but I was surprised to find some of the others that I had given far less thought and consideration to coming to life in my brain. The most specific example of this was Sir Bedivere.

Bedivere is not one of the more glamorous of Arthur's companions, at least not anymore. The only real story that is consistently told of him is that he is the knight who was at Arthur's side when he died. He was the one who threw Excalibur back into the lake of Avalon (and even that role was taken away from him by Percival in John Boorman's film Excalibur). He is traditionally one of the earliest of Arthur's companions mentioned in the literature (along with Arthur's brother Kay). I like the idea that he was with Arthur at the beginning and the end. This makes him a great viewpoint character to relate the entire history of Arthur's reign.

In some of the earliest of the Romances it is Bedivere who is involved in the classic love triangle with Arthur and Guinevere. Lancelot is a much later, Norman addition to the tales and he gradually replaced Bedivere in his own stories as the king's best friend and the lover of the queen. I wanted to play with that idea. In my version Bedivere sees himself being gradually replaced in the affections of both Arthur and Guinevere by the handsome and talented Lancelot.

I see Bedivere as a humble man, who feels privileged to have been in the company of so many people he sees as greater than himself. This is certainly how he presents himself in his narrative. My challenge as the writer was to convey that he is so much more than that using only his own first-person narration.

The other challenge I set for myself was that I wanted to set my story in the vaguely historical period of the 5th century. This necessitated a lot more research than I'm used to doing. I was a history major at one time, and as I've said, I've read a lot of Arthurian books set in this period, so it wasn't overwhelming. My interest in the topic helped, of course. I do want to stress that this is not meant to be completely accurate historical fiction. A major part of my tale takes place in the realm of the mythic. But grounding it in the real world was important to me, so the details mattered. There were no knights in shining armor in 5th century Britain, at least not in the John Boorman sense. The full suits of plate armor didn't come around until centuries after the time of Arthur. So, what did warriors in post-Roman Empire Britain wear? How did they wage war? How did they live? All questions I wanted answers to.

The other main issue was how to deal with the concept of magic. You can't really tell the story of Arthur without addressing Merlin, the sword in the stone, the Holy Grail, and lots of other pieces of the supernatural. I knew I didn't want this to be High Fantasy any more than I wanted it to be accurate historical fiction. I didn't want scenes of Merlin slinging magic fireballs at the enemy. I did however want to set my story in a world where people believed Merlin was capable of slinging fireballs at the enemy. Finding the balance between these two extremes was part of my goal. I'm happy with the results. Probably not everyone will be.

As these things tend to do, this project grew in the telling. I'm not quite sure why I thought I was capable of telling the story of Arthur's entire life in a single book, but that's what was on my mind when I started. As I should have expected, it took on a life of its own. There are a lot of characters, and a lot of settings, and a lot of stories to address. The first book is over 100,000 words and I managed to cover about a year of Arthur's life. That kind of pacing simply can't continue obviously, but I think it was necessary for Book One. Now that the main characters have been introduced and the world has been set up I can move forward.

Right now I see this series as a trilogy (yes, that means the next two installments have not been written yet... I'll do my best not to pull a George R.R. Martin gap between books). The second book, tentatively titled Bedivere: The King's Best Man covers about twelve to fifteen years. The third, Bedivere: The King's Last Command takes the reader to the end of Arthur's life and beyond.

This is a very different type of pacing than anything I have written before, so I am facing new challenges. I'm about 20% of the way through the first draft of book two and I really need to get back to it instead of blogging as much as I have been. I have more research and more notes for this project than anything I've ever attempted before.