Fostered by the noble Lord Ector, Arthur, a young boy of unknown parentage, lives in the no man’s land between servant and master until one day three strangers visit and change the course of his life. On their insistence the young Arthur is trained in the arts of the warrior, the scholar and the courtier. This suggests to both Arthur and his foster family that he comes from a noble background but neither guess at the truth of his pedigree.
Grown to manhood Arthur becomes Lord Ector’s steward, marries, fathers a daughter and settles contentedly into his life. But fate has greater plans for him and the strangers return. They are shocked to find him married with a young family and have a hard time convincing him to travel with them to the High King’s court.
But this he does, believing he owes them for his education, and so sets off a train of events that lead to the war with the Saxons and eventually his crowning as High King of Britain.
This was an interesting take on the old tales focussing on the little explored area of Arthur’s childhood. Hume deftly walks the tightrope between keeping within the confines of accepted mythology and creating that mythology anew, presenting a totally believable history for the young Arthur.
The setting is a plausible mish mash of decaying Roman society and rising Celtic tribes which avoids the magical elements of more traditional tales, replacing them with common superstitions and witchcraft of the time.
The main characters are all present in their traditional roles, and while their character traits are not strictly inline with those generally accepted, they are not so different as to be unrecognisable.
Arthurian legend is a particular interest of mine, and while I am open to new interpretations of old stories, I’m always wary of what’s on offer. It doesn’t take a large leap away from cannon for a book to become a wallbanger for me. Hume’s approach was fresh enough to maintain interest while traditional enough to satisfy.
A great book. I can’t wait to read the rest of the trilogy.-Lynn