|Submitted by LA Solinas |
(Jun 22, 2001)
Everyone's read the oft-accepted story of King Arthur's boyhood, right? A seemingly orphaned fosterling is raised by kindly Sir Ector, doesn't really know who he is. This story gives a mild but enjoyable twist on the old tale. Artos is a young orphan in Sir Ector's castle, whose only playmates are the sons of Sir Ector, who often look down on him. One day, as he chases the dog Boadie into the woods, he comes across a cave that appears to have a massive dragon inside it. Though Artos is initially afraid, he befriends the ancient dragon. The dragon, in exchange for foodstuffs from the kitchen, will teach Artos wisdom. The teachings that the dragon give Artos unconsciously change his outlook and his treatment of other people - even those below him. But after a strange incident in which the dragon temporarily vanishes, Artos discovers the truth about his friend. Aside from the works of Gerald Morris, I don't think I've found a more likeable version of King Arthur than Artos. The lessons that he is taught are mild but creep into the mind and take root, transforming him effectively from a "bulky, unruly, illiterate boy" to a thoughtful and compassionate soul (he isn't perfect, but who is?) The supporting cast is sparkling, from "Garlic" Meg the kitchen maid, ancient Druid wiseman Linn, and the cheerful smith who provides Artos with his first sword. The writing style is admittedly a bit bare at times, but not so much that it is difficult to read. The dialogue and visualization of the final chapter are perhaps the best part, almost mystical. A small note to those reading this book for the first time: Read carefully what the supporting characters say, and you might just guess ahead of time what is up with the dragon. A magical tale without real magic, this is an enjoyable tale for lovers of a darn good story and a must-see for Arthuriana nuts!