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Since the book is due today, I need to finally get this rec posted. So here goes!

I can't remember if it was the title, Here Lies Arthur, or the author, Philip Reeve, that caused me to pick up the book, but it was definitely the combination of the two that got me to check it out. That, and this sentence from the summery on the inside of the cover: In the course of their travels, Myrddin transforms Gwyna into the mysterious Lady of the Lake, a boy warrior, and a spy.

Hey look, there's a wikipedia page for the book! It says everything I wanted to say, only much better than I would have been able to, so please excuse me while I copy and paste.

The novel starts with an attack by Arthur and his war-band, and the escape of Gwyna, a servant girl. She is found by Myrddin, a bard who hopes to build Arthur's reputation as a great hero so that he can unite the native British against the Saxons who have occupied the east of the country. Myrddin tells Gwyna to give Arthur Caliburn while pretending to be the Lady of the Lake. When she does that successfully, Myrddin disguises her in boy's clothes so that she can travel with the war-band as his servant.

Throughout her travels, she meets a boy who was brought up as a girl, tricks a holy man, swims in the Roman baths of Aquae Sulis, takes part in a battle, and witnesses Arthur's brutality, piousness and immorality, all the while observing her master create the fantastic stories that have made 'King Arthur' one of the most famous men in legend. After Arthur's death she creates some stories herself, conceding that the legend is more important than the mere facts.

Gwyna/Gwyn: the narrator, a servant girl who spends much of the book disguised as a boy
Myrddin: her master, a Celtic bard, Arthur's adviser
Arthur, nicknamed the Bear: the leader of a Romano-British war-band
Gwenhwyfar: a relative of Ambrosius Aurelianus, later Arthur's wife
Cei: Arthur's half-brother and a friend to Myrddin
Bedwyr: Gwyn's friend, later Gwenhwyfar's lover
Medrawt: Bedwyr's older brother, a warrior
Peredur: son of a famous warrior, raised as a girl by his widowed mother, later Gwyna's lover

[from Wikipidia]

Anyway, one of the things I liked about the book is how it felt real. Magical things are explained off as tricks and stories. The names of people and places are pretty close to what they would have actually been back then. Phillip Reeve says this isn't "a historical novel, and in writing it I did not set out to portray "the real King Arthur," only to add my own little thimbleful to the sea of stories which surrounds him." But it feels like it could be.

Another thing I liked is the importance and power of stories within the book. Why do we think of Arthur, the Once and Future King, King of all Britain, the way we do? Because of stories.

So if you like stories of stories, cross dressing girls, cross dressing boys, Authurian legend, and/or Phillip Reeve, I think you will really like this book. Even if you don't like that stuff, I still highly recommend Here Lies Arthur. You just might change your mind.



( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 31st, 2011 07:57 pm (UTC)
I've been wondering how this was! I have found Philip Reeve's stuff consistently interesting, occasionally a bit problematic, and often fascinatingly bizarre in the past, so it's good to see a review of this one.
Mar. 31st, 2011 10:36 pm (UTC)
You should read it! It's definitely not as bizarre as the Larklight trilogy, but it is interesting.
Mar. 31st, 2011 08:37 pm (UTC)
Oh, this sounds fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuun.
Mar. 31st, 2011 10:46 pm (UTC)
It's good! Definitely a much easier read than T.H. White and Malory.
Mar. 31st, 2011 10:08 pm (UTC)
I think you might be interested in this book that I proofread a year or so ago. It's part of a trilogy. The books are Blue Flame, White Heat and Paradise Red by K.M. Grant. I read all of them in order to proof the last, Paradise Red.
Mar. 31st, 2011 10:43 pm (UTC)
*looks them up on Amazon*

Hmm, I might give them a try. I'll add them to my list of recced books.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )