I love novels based on Arthurian myths and legends and this one is a great read. Reeve's book for teens presents a totally different take on the stories that is highly original, and uses the Welsh Mabinogion as the basis for the tale rather than Mallory or any of the later romances. What's more this interpretation of the story could so easily be the real thing!
The land it portrays is one of warring tribes; Arthur could be the one to pull the tribes of the west together to face the Saxons, and Myrddin (Merlin) is doing his best to make it so. However, Myrddin's chief weapon is not Earth magic - it's spin! Yes, you heard me right, 'twas ever thus.
Myrddin comes from the bardic tradition and is a master story-teller, embellishing and embroidering Arthur's exploits to the masses to put his man forward as the natural leader. He's also good at creating illusions and using any opportunity to promote his master.
As the novel opens, a young servant girl Gwyna, is hiding from the Arthur and his war-band who have just slashed and burned her master's home. She swims to avoid them, and is spotted by Myrrdin who immediately sees that he can use her to shine light on Arthur, and persuades her to become the Lady of the Lake and present him with a new sword (here named Caliburn). As all eyes will be on Arthur, no-one will notice that the Lady is just a girl who can swim like a fish. Gwynna is a bright girl and does well, and Myrrdin could use an assistant, so she joins him - dressed as a boy for safety.
And thus begins the story - told almost entirely from Gwynna/Gwynn's point of view. It takes us from the episode of the Lady of the Lake through to the deaths of Merlin and Arthur. All is seen from the slightly removed perspective which reveals the politics and spin underneath and the legacy it creates.