Monday, March 30, 2009

Here Lies Arthur by Phillip Reeve

Reeve tells the story of King Arthur when he was just an upstart warlord trying to make a name for himself. Gwyna, a young girl, is the narrator of the story. She travels with Myrrdin (the Merlin character) who spins fantastic stories about his own powers as well as about Arthur's characteristics. Because of the harshness of their traveling life Myrrdin disguises Gwyna as a boy so that she will be accepted. The basis of familiar stories about Arthur are rewritten here - for example, Gwyna poses as the Lady of the Lake. When Gwyna becomes a teen Myrrdin sends her away for a year and then reintroduces her as a maid to Arthur's wife. Although much of the book is about Arthur's battles and conquests, a good deal is also about the roles of boys and girls since Gwyna lives as both. When Arthur learns that his wife has been having an affair with another boy at court the resulting scene is bloody and conclusive with Gwyna having to pick up the role of storyteller.

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