Series: King Arthur #1
Format Read: eGalley
Source: From the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Release Date: October 8, 2013 (this edition; first released 2009)
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Blurb from goodreads:
From the author of The Merlin Prophecy, a trilogy that Kirkus Reviews proclaimed, will “appeal to those who thrill to Game of Thrones,” the first installment in the action-packed trilogy of battles, romance, and bravery during the Dark Ages is the tale of the boy destined to become King Arthur.
The future of Britain is at stake. In the turbulent times of the Dark Ages, the despotic Uther Pendragon, High King of Celtic Britain, is nearing death, and his kingdom is being torn apart by the squabbling of minor kings. But only one man can bring the Celts together as a nation and restore peace—King Arthur.
Artorex (Arthur) doesn’t yet seem like the great man he will grow into. We meet him as a shy, subservient twelve-year-old living in the foster home of Lord Ector, who took in Artorex as a babe to protect him from murderous kin. Life has been unremarkable for the lad within the bosom of Ector’s family. That is, until the arrival of three influential men who arrange for Arthur to be taught the martial skills of the warrior: blade and shield, horse and fire, pain and bravery. Little does Artorex know that these three men—one of whom is Merlin—secretly hope that one day he will take Uther’s crown and restore peaice to Britain.
As the years pass, Artorex becomes a war chieftain, wins many battles, and starts a family with a beautiful, strong woman. But if he is to fulfill his destiny and become the High King of the Britons, Artorex must find the dying king’s hidden crown and sword. Will Artorex be able to leave his family, find the precious weapons, lead the attack against the Saxons, and ultimately prove himself worthy of Uther’s crown?
I've been a fan of the King Arthur stories since I was a little girl. I was weaned on Le Morte D'Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory and The Sword in the Stone by T.H. White (my mother was a high school English teacher; books were my food). In middle school I glommed Mary Stewart's Arthurian Saga. Oddly, I haven't read many other incarnations of the Arthur story but this one caught my eye and I requested it.
"Dragon's Child" is very different from the books I enjoyed so much. The basic elements are there but Hume infuses her story with current research into life back then. There's a tremendous amount of detail and at times it was overwhelming, sometimes dry. With so much research, it's no surprise that she opted to leave out magic. Everything is explained prosaically but given the time period and location that the story takes place in, magic creeps in via belief. So, no magic in the story but people in the book willingly attribute events to magic and of course, stories change in the telling and become exaggerated.
"Dragon's Child" is at times a handbook to life in the early Dark Ages in Britain, with exhaustive detail on politics, daily life, architecture, etc. The detail sometimes drowns out the story. I didn't become truly engrossed until approximately halfway through; before that, it was a slog to keep reading. At times I didn't like Artorex very much but we spend enough time in his head so that I could appreciate why he behaved the way he did. I enjoyed Hume's versions of the sword in the stone and the origin of Excalibur, called Caliburn in this story. Merlin, known as Myrddion in this version, is very human, a wise man, a counselor, and a manipulator. Morgan is evil in Hume's version but her evilness seems to derive mainly from her hate and Hume shows us why she is so hate-filled.
If you appreciate history and like your historical fiction solidly based in research, if you enjoy a great deal of detail, then this is your book. Hume has a knack for creating believable characters and adding life to a story I thought I knew well. I didn't love the story but the more I read, the more I enjoyed and it's a strong and different take on the traditional tales.