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13 June 2010

Book Review Arthur Trilogy

Arthur Trilogy - Kevin Crossley-Holland

The Seeing Stone
There are three of these. An intriguing idea of parallel lives with Arthur of medieval times and Arthur, the mythical king. But in the first book it never quite gets off the ground. However, it was readable and enjoyable enough that I'm moving on to the second book, so ...

At the Crossing Places
A nice little book chock full of interesting tidbits about medieval manor life during the crusades. But I'm still waiting for how manor Arthur ties in with King Arthur and I'm beginning to think he doesn't, really, despite the fact that manor Arthur will inherit a manor called Catmole and sees the King Arthur legends reflected in a "seeing stone" given to him by a family friend named Merlin. The Seeing Stone was the title of the first book, so I expected Arthur of manor to be more intertwined with Arthur of legend. However, at this point it seems that the King Arthur legends only serve the purpose to teach life lessons to manor Arthur. That's all fine and good but I was expecting more from this trilogy; more magic and awe of discovery, I guess. 

Still readable enough for me to tackle the final book of the trilogy so onward

King of the Middle March
Author Cornelia Funke writes in a blurb on the back cover of this book, "The Arthur of this trilogy moves softly into one's heart." And that's just what this set of books did; tiptoed into my esteem. 

Perhaps the last one is the best one. Perhaps, by the last one, the reader realizes that the connection between the Arthurs is no more than it appears to be; one of legend and observer. Perhaps it was because this book took Arthur off the March and into the world of the crusades. 

But for whatever reason, this book, of the three, resonated most with me. The writing has been lyrical throughout but reached a pinnacle in this installment. In a chapter entitled "Gossip-Wind" Arthur writes a lyric: 

Nobody's sure what so-and-so really said
But everyone knows someone who knows,
Roundabout it goes, and we all suppose

Round and round, round again it goes,
And somewhere between word and word and word,
Everything worsens as the gossip-wind blows.

Nobody's quite sure, though we all know each word,
But no one cares and no one counts the cost
When round-about it goes, and we all suppose,

And truth and honor and trust lie lost. 

Arthur learns much in this book that resonates; tolerance, the inherent good and evil that lies in all men, the ability of politics and greed to stand in the way of good deeds. And as he learns, one watches him grow into a young man who itches to lead and protect. To do no harm. A young man whose head-line and heart-line are one. And as this young man rides home to his manor, Catmole, the reader has hope for the future of the people in his employ and under his care. 

I often talk about wanting to buy and island somewhere, where I can create a utopia. A place where greed is neutered and good works and deeds are paramount. And at the end of this book, the reader feels that Catmole might be such a place. Just as Camelot tried to be. 

So, in the end, the King Arthur lessons in the stone were just lessons. But they were lessons well-learned and well-told.

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