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Here Lies Arthur Paperback – 6 Oct 2011
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About the Author
Philip Reeve is the bestselling author of the Predator Cities quartet and the award-winning Fever Crumb series. His other books include the highly acclaimed HERE LIES ARTHUR and NO SUCH THING AS DRAGONS. He lives in Dartmoor, England with his wife and son. Visit him online at philip-reeve.com. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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The plot bears enough similarities with the legends to be recognisable, but has twists of its own to keep you guessing. The writing is fresh and evocative.
His take on Merlin as Arthur's chief spin doctor gives a stark relevancy to the story, affording easy comparisons with the machinations and cynicism of today's political figures.
After the fantastic Mortal Engines books and the charming and funny Larklight, Philip Reeve is fast becoming my favourite author.
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.
I would defiantly recommend this book. I thoroughly enjoyed it, despite the lack of charm from the classic characters and the lack of magic I'd expected. If you're looking for something interesting and gripping, give it a go.
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