A group of naive teenagers battle an oppressive regime in a dystopian future Britain. With lead characters called Arthur and Gwenhwyfar (that’s pronounced ‘Guinivere’) though, they may have a chance…
Logres takes us back to the future: Britain in the 2050’s is more like the 1970’s, with power cuts, shortages and political strife. Climate change is beginning to bite, technology has regressesd and post-Brexit Britain has turned inwards and is in danger of fragmenting.1984 is referenced heavily, and the ruling New National party with their omnipresent surveillance cameras and media control are suitably Orwellian.
Much of the book is typical high school drama. Gwen, newly-arrived from Wales, is a rich girl who is immediately attracted to Arthur, a boy from the wrong side of the tracks who has to work and lives with his grandmother. But she’s also crushing on bad boy Lancelot Lake (!) who plays in a band, and there are love polygons with Gavin, Morgan Fay (!), and a whole classroom of other characters.
As with the rest of the setting, it’s charmingly old-fashioned. Rather than being glued to their smartphones, sexting, cyber-bullying and trading naked selfies, all social interaction is carried out IRL, and is all fairly gentle – A tells B that C said D was fat. It may be retro rather than futuristic, but makes for better drama.
The teens eyes are opened to the evil of the government by a teach called Marvin, nicknamed Merlin, who starts an after-school club to discuss politics. However, Logres school is no Hogwarts, and Merlin has no magic except the power of banned literature -- such as 1984. The characters are caught up in protests and a fledgling resistance movement, but politics takes second place to their own personal dramas.
This is the first in a series. The pace of the plot is leisurely; there is no hint that Arthur might be a future king yet, though the monarchy has been abolished and there are hints of a secret in Arthur’s past.
Logres is an engaging and well-written tale, and certainly a very different take on the Arthurian mythos.
I found this book very readable and well written, a quite believable future setting had me intrigued and it was hard not to make connections with the history of this 'World' and post Brexit Britain. The characters seem an eclectic mix of students and teachers and of course most are not what they first seem. Another good thing about this book is that your never sure whats going to happen next, I have no idea where this story will go and I like that. Hurry up and finish the sequel please Lor!
With an introduction that launches you right into the story and brings back vivid memories of school, I was left feeling much like the main character, lost, confused and slightly overwhelmed by all the new people you're meeting. This lasted for about half of the first chapter before I was sucked into the story and realised that I was identifying completely with Gwenhwyfar (the main character) precisely because of this. What this book does beautifully is describe and explain the world it is set in without you even realising it. You never have to read through a history or exposition explaining the background; you learn through the conversations, narrative and action of the story about the England that Gwenhwyfar and her friends and family live in. Set in a dystopian future that you fear could all to easily come to pass, with a well-written and engaging storyline and believable, intriguing characters, this book pulled me in and kept me hooked until beyond the last page. With the hope that M. L. Mackworth-Praed has already started on the next instalment in this series, I strongly recommend that you read it yourself.
Ernest Hemingway revised the last page of A Farewell to Arms 39 times. When asked what had stumped him, he replied, "Getting the words right." On the whole, M. L. Mackworth-Praed gets the words right in this dystopian novel set in post-Brexit Britain in 2052. A delight to read, the book is graced by a nuanced, delicate style attuned to the rich sounds and images occasioned by words and by the variegated rhythms emerging from varied syntactic constructions. If you revel in good prose as much as good storytelling, then you will enjoy this book.
The storytelling itself is somewhat leisurely but picks up pace as we follow fifteen-year-old Gwenhwyfar through her adventures in a new school named Logres after moving from Wales with her mother and father. We experience the pettiness of high school girls and boys and other small intrigues (such as one of the girl’s starting a modelling career, a boy’s being suspended from school for sexual assault, another—Lancelot—for slashing the principal’s tires) as well as some of the protagonist’s personal problems (such as passive-aggressive behavior between her parents and looming fears of their eventual rift). But engagement with these young-adult problems gradually gives way to a broader awareness of what was happening in the society around her. She and her friends reflect particularly on the cruelty towards the so-called “Lessers,” the homeless or feeble or addicted who are gathered up and placed in “Mobilisation Centres” ostensibly designed to improve their lot in life but actually created to “vanish” them. The regime Gwen, Arthur, a piano-playing, rebellious Lancelot, and the rest live in resembles Ingsoc in Orwell’s 1984, a book that is banned in the novel just like Animal Farm is (The Lord of the Flies appears, too, but is not quite banned), and an underground organization called “Free Countries” and an after-school history club called “The Round Table” expose members to “alternative truths” to what the ruling party propagandizes. The exposure improves understanding but does not alleviate fear, and the novel ends with the promise of more fear and intrigue to come in a second book. Apart from names and a Round Table, there is little Arthuriana in The Future King: Logres, and the book’s enigmatic title does not capture the imagination. The novel itself will, however, and I recommend it.
I’m reviewing this book voluntarily and thank the author for sharing a copy of it with me.
In Logres, by M.L. Mackworth-Praed, the author offers a modern take on some of our most beloved Arthurian characters. Not surprisingly, Gwenhwyfar (Gwen) and Arthur star in the main roles. Lancelot is the “bad boy” in her telling, and Bedivere makes an appearance in a supporting role. She sets her story in a dystopian, politically-charged Britain approximately 30 years in the future.
Gwen and her parents have moved from Wales to Logres, where Gwen finds herself in the awkward role of “the new girl” at school. She quickly meets new friends, not all of whom turn out to be what they seem. For the first few chapters, most of the interactions between the characters consist of one high school drama after another (who’s wearing what, who’s kissing whom, what to wear to the party, etc.). As dull as these scenes were for me to read at my age (I’m 47 and despised every moment of high school), I freely admit those were the things I and most of my girlfriends were concerned with in our teen years—and the book is, after all, aimed at a young adult audience. I’ll wager the audience the author is writing for will identify with these scenes more than I did for obvious reasons. On another level, however, the seemingly trivial interactions of these young folks serve a larger purpose—they provide stark juxtaposition to the increasingly violent political atmosphere brewing around them. Real world concerns eventually eclipse their personal ones as the book progresses. This is something I see my own teenage son dealing with—he is emerging from a world where video games, how fast he can grow his hair out, and working out every day to “get buff” rank high on his priority list, into one where he is grappling with larger concerns, like deciding on a career path and forging his own beliefs, morals and political opinions.
Content-wise, my favorite parts of the book were the discussions between the young students and “Marvin,” (our resident Merlin) a professor at their school who hosts an “invite only” after-school club to discuss current affairs and banned literature. He also indulges the kids with authentic chocolate and wine, which are in short supply in 2052, obtainable only on the black market (though one wonders how a high school professor can manage to get his hands on them—but that adds to “Marvin’s” mystery…perhaps he has friends in high places we know nothing about?) The political situation the author presents is quite imaginable given today’s current state of affairs, and, therefore, genuinely frightening. I feel this is the book’s strongest feature.
Regarding the prose itself, the author has a strong grasp of descriptive detail, bordering on poetic at times. I could see the landscapes and situations clearly in my mind’s eye, and her similes/metaphors were original. Character development on the major characters was well-sketched, namely Gwen, Arthur, and Lancelot, but could have perhaps been a little more robust on the peripheral characters, as I found them nearly interchangeable (the gaggle of girls who run in Gwen’s group).
All in all, however, a great first effort by Ms. Mackworth-Praed. Well-done!
I'd like to thank the author for providing me with a copy of her novel, and state that I am voluntarily reviewing this book.
Fifteen-year-old Gwenhwyfar, the new Welsh girl at the Logres school in London, falls for a scholarly type named Arthur during a time of growing political turmoil a few decades from now...and dangerous complications arise.
This is not quite an Arthurian novel and not quite your typical YA dystopian novel, either. The setting is England in 2052 – although the daily technology in many places seemed to me to be closer to 2000. The government is proto-fascism; a common trope in British science fiction since, I suppose, the Thatcher years (though inspired by Orwell’s 1984, a book heavily referenced by Mackworth-Praed). The real-life addition of CCTV to every street in London gets some severe disapproval, as do the racist attitudes clearly inspired by certain strains in Britain today.
What I liked was the sense of high school kids living on the edge of an evil society (so evil that people have to pay for their own health insurance…may I just say, as an American, ouch!), with some of them only very gradually coming to realize that maybe some opposition is in order. Which is true of a lot of societies, and of a lot of 15-year-olds. Some of them join a secret society of rebels and later worry that the society may have some dark secrets of its own—the constant uncertainty, of always being outside and essentially powerless, is well done.
Regarding the “Arthurian” aspects – well, the main characters are named Gwenhwyfar and Arthur, and there’s a Morgan and a Lancelot and a Bedivere and a teacher named Marvin whose nickname is Merlin, and he gives young Arthur a few pointers on democracy versus totalitarianism.
I admit I didn’t focus too much on the “does she fancy him?” aspects of the story; frankly, even when I was a high school student, a hundred years ago, I would have paid more attention to the political parts. This is the first of a series and I imagine, based on his name, that young Arthur might have a future in politics.
A final note that has less to do with the book’s literary qualities and more to do with some of its themes: Living as I do in a country where racists and proto-fascists are doing their best to get things their way, it’s good that authors like Mackworth-Praed are writing in opposition to such things and sounding a warning about what the future might hold. Every raised voice helps.
I am voluntarily reviewing this book. I thank the author for sharing a copy of the book with me.
It was disturbing to be honest, well written but the dystopia created was so close to home, so realistic of the direction our society could go that it gave me the creeps! I am a strong believer though that books should get some truth out, and I think this book achieves this in a big way, and I hope with the young adult protagonists it would bring awareness to a younger audience.
The main characters being school students creates this air of naivety and an insular environment, but as the book progresses you begin to see the darker elements of the situation.
I don't know what to think about the ending, but it was dramatic, dark and totally leaves the reader in the lurch. I am very curious to see where the author takes book 2.
Without some prompting, I would not have associated LOGRES with the King Arthur legend aside from the characters’ names, but at least I had a pretty good idea how Arthur, Gwen, Morgan, and Lancelot were going to interact. Set a few decades into the future, this high school drama is close enough to today for us to recognize many of the trappings of the student world, and just far enough away for us not to be entirely sure where this uncomfortable future is heading. It takes a long time to get to the politics, where we see a government in the process of taking peoples’ rights away while the dissenters are losing the battle. But meanwhile, we are plunged into deep social interaction with teenagers playing the usual school games of favoritism, rejection, and belonging, while the newcomer Gwenhwyfar strives to fit into a social clique:
“I’m just curious.” Hattie glanced to her doubtfully as they climbed the steps to the path running alongside the drama studios. “It’s just… I think she’s been saying things to Emily about you. Earlier when you went to go talk to Arthur she told me that you said I was fat.” “Fat?” Gwenhwyfar lapped it up. “I never said that!” “You didn’t?” “Of course not! Unlike some people, I don’t bitch.” “Charlotte’s been telling Emily you’ve been saying nasty things about us.” Gwenhwyfar’s insides were boiling. Hattie continued to pry. “Have you upset her or something?” “I haven’t said anything to that girl,” Gwenhwyfar hissed. “Not a thing! She’s been rude to me since I got here. So no, I don’t like her.”
The author does a good job investing our characters with personality traits appropriate to their age group: uncertainty, poor judgment, the desperate need to belong; I remember those mixed emotions very well. As a middle-aged woman who hated high school, I admit I suffered through much of this story, so I must concede it was right-on! In most of the current volume, the real story takes a back seat to the school saga and we get a thorough introduction to relationships and shifting loyalties that are bound to cause trouble in the future (especially Arthur and Lancelot). But as the story progresses, we worry less about personal interactions and more about government interference in everyday lives. Gwenhwyfar meddles with dissident groups and comes mighty close to serious harm. Has she committed herself too far? This remains to be seen. I assume that in future volumes our characters will tackle the mis-government with the help of their history teacher who only uses Merlin as a secret nick-name. But for now, things are starting to get ugly in the outside world and I suspect our characters are destined to rely on their friendships to survive the upcoming turmoil.
A fascinating future King Arthur story with several key twists to the theme. One, all of your Arthurian favorites are essentially in high school. Two, the future political climate is authoritarian and frightening (and depicts how things could worsen from our current IRL climate). I absolutely loved M.L.'s depiction of the future. It's extremely well done. It's not presented so much as an overt authoritarianism but as a creeping sense of the government applying authority in the name of public safety. The New Moral Army is as terrifying as it sounds, for as several characters ask, "Whose morals?"
In the Logres of 2052, freedom is very much at stake.
Setting up the characters in the age range of 15-18 or so is an interesting choice. Given the heavy weight of oppression around them, it might have served a better purpose to have them at university. As a 50 year old father of two boys, I am likely not the target demographic for the teenage girl point-of-view about "do you like him? You do! O! M! G!" that goes on a bit too much. Much of the heavier personal drama could have translated to an older set of characters. And in some sense there are many situations in which they do act older than their years: joining "seditious" movements, for one.
But this young age is ripe for discussion of how to fight back against an overbearing regime, and the characters play off one another well.
I am a bit of an Arthur nut and love seeing twists on the legend. This one is extremely well written, with tense scenes and rich dialog. The characters live and breathe and come to life.
I am voluntarily reviewing this book. I thank the author for sharing a copy of the book with me.
I first heard about this book through my kinship on LotRO, oddly enough. I initially decided to read it to support my kinmate, and I'm glad I did! The writing and editing were well done, especially for a self published effort.
I enjoyed the tale, told from the point of view of Gwenhwyfar(Guinevere). The characters are well developed and they have been nicely adapted into the High School setting. Though, I must admit, the gossipy high school girls and awkward teenage antics were a bit trying at times. I suppose it's to be expected it in YA book.
Overall it was a weekend well spent, I'd recommend the book to anyone who enjoys YA novels, Orwellian stories, or the legend of King Arthur. In fact, my son is reading it now. I can't wait for the next installment!