Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Book Review : Here Lies Arthur by Philip Reeve

I really like Philip Reeve, but I have to admit when I picked up this book I wondered if I really wanted to slog through another retelling of the tale of King Arthur. Come on--hasn't it all been said before?
Reeve offers a different view of Arthur in his new book "Here Lies Arthur". Arthur is the Dux Bellorum, a petty warlord during the British Dark Ages. He is brutish and not very bright. The story is told by Gwyna, a young servant girl, whose village is sacked by Arthur's warband. She is rescued by Myrddin, Arthur's bard, who has her pose as the lady of the lake and then disguises her as a boy. Myrddin has no magic only stories. He is convinced Arthur is the one who will unite Britain and bring peace. So he spins his stories of Arthur's heroic exploits, like a modern day spin doctor. As puberty approaches Gwyna is forced to become a girl again. Myrddin places her in the household of Gwenhwfar, Arthur's wife. The story spins toward its inevitalble ending with the deaths of Arthur and Myrddin. Gwyna picks up Myrddin's harp and begins spinning her own tales of Arthur.
This is a very interesting take on the Arthurian legends and the power of story. This should definitely appeal to older teens.

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