****I received a free copy from the author in exchange for an honest review****
Growing up, I loved all things King Arthur and Camelot. I loved reading about the different iterations of Morgana from evil Fey Queen to misunderstood guardian Lady of the Lake. I loved reading the more young adult books focusing on Guinevere becoming a warrior queen rather than a damsel in distress. Then for some reason, that really isn’t witty or enlightening, I moved on from Arthur and his Knights of The Round Table, and went on to more Greek and Norse Mythology and on and on. But I am so glad to be getting back into Arthurian fantasy! It reminds me why I loved these books as a kid, and the first book in “The Legends of King Arthur” really hit the spot for a craving I had nearly forgotten about! I don’t know of a single person who hasn’t at least heard of the legends around King Arthur, so I don’t really need to say what this book is about. Suffice it to say, this story follows Arthur on those crucial few “steps” before he can covet his Kingly title, when everything goes wrong, and he has to prove himself worthy to lead his people.
Gillman’s love of Arthurian legends and tales is quickly apparent with the ease in which he puts his own spin on these well-known characters. He takes their classic attributes and turns the dial all the way up on them until they ooze with a near satirical perfection. This is exceedingly apparent in Gillman’s spin on Lancelot, Merlin, and Guinevere, I won’t say more than that because half the fun is rediscovering these characters. Sometimes it did feel a bit overboard if I’m being 100% honest, and sometimes tiptoed towards just being ridiculous rather than charming, but the character arches for all of the characters is handled wonderfully, and the witticisms that Gillman strings throughout his book with each character left me chuckling quietly to myself, which worried my husband.
The pacing of this book was well handled as well, I never felt like the story was dragging and often I found myself so wrapped up in the story it made it easy for me binge read late into the night, which is always a great thing. I also enjoyed that this book felt complete. It may be the first in the series, but Gillman manages to tell a complete story, so the mild “cliffhanger” at the end doesn’t feel like a cheap attempt to keep the reader hooked, something I greatly appreciated. Honestly, I think this would be a great book for people as young as 13, given they have read or are really familiar with the knights and people of legend that swirl around the fabled King Arthur, as it’ll make Gillman’s take on these characters all the more endearing.
There was so much I enjoyed about this book, and other than the few instances where I felt like Lancelot’s lack of humility and Guinevere’s perfection in literally all things got a bit overdone, I thought this was a wonderful novel. The author’s love of Arthurian stories, and the characters involved is apparent with each character he writes, which makes the book even more enjoyable and I can’t wait to continue on in the series. Without a doubt, this deserves 5 stars!
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