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5.0 out of 5 stars No kingdom lasts forever, 1 May 2011
E. A Solinas "ea_solinas" (MD USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Legend of the King (Squire's Tales) (Hardcover)
All good things eventually come to an end, and the same applies to Gerald Morris' clever fantasy series about King Arthur's knights. "The Legend of the King" follows Arthurian legend to its natural bittersweet conclusion-- and while there's plenty of loss and mayhem, Morris manages to give it a hopeful slant.

It starts with Gareth coming back to Camelot, and raving drunkenly about "looshe" women, the king, Lancelot, and the world in general. Then their sorceress mother appears to Agrivain, and encourages him to undermine the Round Table and its knights -- leading to a disastrous encounter with Lancelot, and the queen being accused of treason.

And the knights riding through the land encounter some sinister doings -- Mordred is riding through the land, claiming that a maddened Arthur is turning his armies on his own people. As the people of Camelot turn against each other and the kingdom begins to crumble from treachery and sorcery, Terence, Gawain and the small band of loyal knights must fight to the bitter end...

It sounds very depressing, but Gerald Morris manages to make "The Legend of the King" an experience that is both saddening and humorous. Anyone who knows about Arthurian lore will have a pretty good idea of how the story goes and how it ends, but Morris still manages to put his own quirkily fantastical spin on it.

There's still plenty of humor here ("Shall I send them a threatening message telling them that if they don't lift their siege at once, my wife won't cure their scabby bits?") and some lighter romantic moments. But there's a darker undercurrent even to the lighter stuff, and as the story winds to its inevitable conclusion, Morris fills his story with a feeling of sadness -- he really makes you mourn for the loss of Camelot and everything that might have been.

And despite that darker undercurrent, Morris manages to wrap up his saga in a surprisingly gentle style -- it's sad, but it's not depressing. And while he sticks to Arthurian myth, he manages to add his own spin.

And he spends the entire book revisiting all the beloved characters -- Terence, Gawain, Dinadin, Gaheris, Lynet, Morgan and even Arthur and Lancelot himself. It's a painful wrench to say goodbye to these characters, and Morris gives each one some powerful scenes (such as Arthur meeting his imprisoned wife) and strong storylines (Gaheris and Lynet dealing with a siege).

"The Legend of the King" is a strong, bittersweet conclusion to Gerald Morris' series, and he adds his own unique spin to the legends of King Arthur and his knights. His best work yet.
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The Legend of the King (Squire's Tales)
The Legend of the King (Squire's Tales) by Gerald Morris (Hardcover - 20 Nov 2010)
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