Here Lies Arthur
Phillip Reeve




It's Britain AD500. Arthur fights giants, rescues maidens and tricks the Devil with his words ? or so they say. Gwyna is overwhelmed. She's only a slave-girl and he is a king. Soon Arthur's magician, Myrddin, will show her the real secret behind Arthur's power.

"A page-turner of a novel, with a well-constructed plot and believable characters that engage the reader from the off. The landscape and setting of the time are skilfully drawn. Reeve cleverly makes the story relevant to today by examining the versions of history that are handed down to us, and the ways in which myths are created. An enjoyable and thought-provoking book." Cilip Carnegie Medal 2008

"Brilliant version of the Camelot story." The Guardian
Adéle , from The Henrietta Barnett School London

 

Here Lies Arthur is about a servant girl called Gwyna. Gwyna pretends to be the lady of the lake, and with nowhere to go, Myrddin takes her in. As Arthur would recognise her as a girl, she pretends to be a boy. She then turns back into a girl as a spy for Myrddin on Gwenhwyfar. She then finds Myrddin dying of a fever and he tells her his story.

 

I liked the way the author had thought about the real power behind Arthur. This story brought Arthur, from what was legend, to what could actually have happened by using the power of words. My favourite part was with the Lady of the Lake, as this was such a novel idea, of it just being a young girl and nothing mystical. I also liked Myrddin story at the end, as it nicely concluded the questions that had been running through my head. However this was the saddest bit of the piece as you heard about how he actually loved Gwyna.

 

In some places the book was slow moving which ruined the excitement which I was feeling by the end. At the beginning, I didn’t think it was going to be a very good book. Once I got into the book it was an amazing book. Most of the time that was spent with Gwenhwyfar and the time she was travelling with Myrddin was missed out, so we don’t know what was actually happening in that time.    

 

I liked this book as it brought together my knowledge of Arthur to form a realistic version of what actually could have happened. This was exciting and I loved the book.    

Ami, from The Henrietta Barnett School London

Here Lies Arthur is about a girl called Gwyna. She is running, trying to escape from the burning woods, and comes across a man who wants to kill her, when suddenly she falls off the cliff into the dirty river and swims and swims. I thought this setting was a fabulous opening to the story. It really made me want to read on, as it was very dramatic. I liked the idea of how the author used the present tense as an opening.

 

Gwyna finally climbed ashore, when suddenly a man picked her up, put her on his horse and led her to a little shelter where she lay in the corner, dripping wet. The man asks her if she is hungry, asks her name and tells her that his name is Myrddin. Gwyna tells Myrddin that she came from her master’s farm and that she swam like a fish in the river from there. Gwyna tells Myrddin that she is excellent in water and shows him how long she can hold her breath for. Myrddin thinks that it was impressive. He tells her that he is a story-spinner for Arthur, tells magical stories about Arthur and makes Arthur believe that he is truly magical. …

 

The main character is Gwyna. She is very confident and I do not agree with her nickname, Gwyna the mouse. I felt sorry for the fact that she had to keep changing from boy to girl. She always put people before her and loved Myrddin. The other character is Myrddin. He was pleasant and agreeable and loved Gwyna like his own daughter; his character was very enchanting and I think he deserved better than spinning stories about Arthur. He seemed to have a very creative mind from the stories he told about Arthur. The author described them in great detail. …

 

It was a very fascinating story [from] very long ago, and it was almost like a journal. There is nothing I would have liked to change. It is a very odd choice of story. I think the author wanted to tell this story because it has a meaning: that girls and boys are the same, or whatever you put your mind to can happen. I would recommend this book to people who want to laugh, cry, hate and be excited while reading! I would read another one of Philip Reeve’s books. 

 

 


Arian, from The Henrietta Barnett School London

This story is about an Arthur of Myrddin’s legends, and the Arthur that a girl named Gwyna knows. This Arthur is an Arthur driven by greed, power and desire. It is Gwyna who tells this story, she is the narrator. She finds out that all this “magical” activity is not quite what it seems, it is actually her master Myrddin pulling the strings. Myrddin’s job in all this was to twist Arthur’s messy battles into something that would sound heroic and magical when told to others. Myrddin was so convinced that his stories would motivate his men to beat the Saxons, he even set up the whole ‘lady in the lake’ scenario to boost confidence.

 

This book is one of the most descriptive pieces of writing around. It was full of alliteration: “the women screeching, the men scrambling sleepily for staves and spears and sickles”. The language was mainly poetic as it was a very expressive piece. Gwyna/Gwyn's shifting gender from being a plain maid in Gwenhwyfar’s court to being Gwyn, a beardless youth who tags along with Arthur’s troops, allowed Philip Reeve to cast a unique insight into dark-age Britain. He has added his own touch to the already known version of Arthur’s legend.

Benjamin, from University College School London

Here Lies Arthur is an ideal read for mature children and young adults.

 

The book illustrates the fact that people generally believe what they are told if it is told to them in a sophisticated way and the author, whilst using this technique himself to fool the reader along the way, offers also a plausible explanation of how the traditional Camelot story came to be.

 

The book also doubles up as a romance and adventure novel. It is exciting with quite violent action, realistic and fascinating characters and with the added bonus of a heart-warming aspect to the story.

 

Arthur, however, is not the book’s most interesting character. Far from it - the book centres mainly on Myrddin (who is obviously meant to be the ‘true’ version of Merlin) and Gwyna a young girl.

 

Myrddin is Arthur’s servant and healer but he is not who he appears as he wanders around the west of Britain spreading stories about Arthur which feature him defeating terrifying creatures and performing other brave deeds.  In reality Arthur is little more than a selfish thug who is interested only in acquiring money and power and Myrddin’s job is to conceal Arthur’s true character from the British people and present him in a heroic light.  The situation is no different from the modern day politician who employs a public relations officer to improve his image with the public.

 

To add irony to this, the character of Myrddin is presented in strict contrast to the character of the sophisticated and powerful wizard that is featured in the traditional Camelot story.

 

The principal character and narrator of the story is Gwyna who is a clever creation of the author in that she changes gender (by way of disguise) throughout the story and is someone with whom both male and female readers can relate.

 

She meets Myrddin when her home is destroyed by Arthur and his men and she travels with him and the King for the duration of the book relating their antics.  Her commentary is always witty and interesting. Because you share her feelings and opinions as each episode occurs and each new character is encountered, you develop a strong empathy with her.

 

In conclusion, Here Lies Arthur is a remarkable achievement. On one level it is an exciting and romantic adventure with plenty of twists and turns in the plot.  On another level, it is an allegory about how the general public can be easily deceived by politicians and others in authority. On a further level, the book presents a fascinating and believable theory of how the legend of King Arthur and Camelot was created.

Chloe, from The Henrietta Barnett School London

Here Lies Arthur is a fictional story loosely based on the legends of King Arthur. Characters from the well-known stories have counterparts in this story but with quite different characteristics. For instance 'Merlin' in this adaptation is equipped with words and cunning in place of magical powers, and Arthur is not so much a heroic king as a tyrant and a bully or that is at least how he comes across to Gwyna - the main character and narrator. This gives a whole new dimension and an alternative view on how things might have been.

 

Myrddin alters Gwyna's appearance from female to male and back again to aid his schemes to make Arthur great. This gives an interesting insight, particularly with regard to the difference between the sexes.

 

This combined with the alternative take on the traditional characters catches and sustains the reader’s interest making it an enjoyable yet unusual read.

Christopher, from University College School London

Here Lies Arthur is a book by the author of the Mortal Engines Series about his interpretation of the Arthurian legend. This is a different idea from the traditional stories of Arthur, as it portrays Arthur as a ruthless, power-hungry ruler of the Dark Ages leading a war band around Britain. The story is not centred on Arthur though. It is instead centred on the story of a girl called Gwyna (Gooinnah) who becomes Arthur’s magician, Myrddin’s (Marthinn) assistant.

 

Gwyna starts out as a servant girl until her master’s hall is attacked by Arthur’s war band. On escaping, she runs into Myrddin, Arthur’s magician and storyteller. He takes her on as his assistant and uses her to promote Arthur’s myths. She acts as the ‘Lady in the Lake’. Myrddin reveals that Arthur uses him to make amazing stories about himself that we all know today, while he is actually a sort of pillaging barbarian.

The story continues through many adventures and battles and Gwyna dresses up as a boy more than once for disguise. The book ends with a huge battle and then a more traditional ending, sailing into the horizon.

 

This book is strange in the way it was written. For example, the tense begins in the first-person present tense and changes to the past tense. Then it returns to the present and back again to the past. It is quite strange but I noticed that the chapters that contain lots of action are in the present tense. This, for all its bizarreness, submerges you even more into the action. It makes you feel like you are there and not someone is telling you what happened.

 

As for the setting, it isn’t the castles and knights in shining armour going on. It is a wild Britain. The Romans are gone and the warlords living in their hill forts rule Britain. It has got a feel of the Vikings and Saxons and Celts with huge halls, drunken men and loot of nearby rivals.  It is nothing like the stories of King Arthur, the Sword in the Stone or the Knights of the Round Table.

 

It is so different, and that is what makes it interesting. The descriptions are very good, though I did think that the action wasn’t as exciting as it could have been, especially in the beginning and middle. It is written a bit too sophisticatedly even though it seems like it has lots of action. It felt like something was missing that some of the other books had.

 

Furthermore, the book didn’t really get exciting until the end. Before that it was hard to keep going after another chapter was done. However, when you do get to the end, you can’t stop. The lies and betrayal that you would have found little of in the beginning of the book made an invisible force field, stopping you from putting the book down. As you finish, you say to yourself, ‘that was a good ending.’

So to conclude, Here Lies Arthur has an amazing idea, challenging the way we see King Arthur, and gets the setting and descriptions spot on. However, it lacks excitement until the end. In spite of this, it is still a very good read and I would recommend it to people.
Georgia , from The Henrietta Barnett School London

Here Lies Arthur is the story of a slave girl, named Gwyna, who, after having a run-in with Arthur (or King Arthur, as we know him) and being taken in by his magician, Myrddin, is forced to pretend to be a boy. The story follows Gwyna (alias Gwyn) as she struggles to make her way through a war hungry world, and make sense of the true Arthur.

 

Gwyn/Gwyna is the main character, being the narrator, the person whom the story is centred around, and one of the characters that undergoes the biggest personality changes. Towards the start of the book Gwyna is a shy girl, who cannot stand up for herself, and is not willing to take risks, but later on becomes brave and decisive. This is probably because of how many deaths she witnesses, and to do with gender changes and Myrddin's influence.

 

The book mainly explores her relationships with Myrddin and Bedwirr, a boy of about the same age as her. The changes of the relationships change as those involved undergo changes. For instance, as Bedwirr becomes manlier, so his relationship with Gwyn deteriorates. Likewise, Myrddin's several changes of view on Gwyna's position damage or boost their friendliness towards one another. This I found interesting, since it shows how important an aspect of friendship personalities are, and how easily both deteriorate.

 

The book has far too many characters, an enormous amount of scene changes, and several years of plot being missed out at various points in the story, which made the plot nearly impossible to understand. However, all of these had some benefits, showing Gwyn/Gwyna's social skills and highlighting how she adapted to various different but masculine environments, as well as skipping out a lot of boring text about unimportant events.

 

Though all of the aforementioned traits have their advantages, the book would have been better off without them since it soon became exceedingly irritating. Here Lies Arthur had some of the most original ones I have ever heard (or rather, read). One such was repetition of similes on a certain character to help with characterization. For example, Arthur's wife, Gwynhwyvar, is described as "white like a stripped twig". Later in the book, a hand that is "white as a stripped twig" floats at the surface of a lake, identifying it as belonging to Gwynhwyvar. Another interesting and unusual writing technique was reflecting normally negative environments as positive, or at least neutral. A rather too obvious example is after Gwyna discovers her mistress, Lady Gwynhwyvar, has committed suicide, she describes herself as "I didn't feel anything" and "I couldn't find a feeling anywhere inside of me", showing a lack of emotion. The rest of the use of adjectives was a lot less original, using different ones to categorize different settings into different moods. Mainly, whether the main character is Gwyn or Gwyna at the time decides what mood, with the female counterpart generally a lot gloomier, reflecting that Gwyn is a lot happier than Gwyna.

 

A large proportion of the book is devoted to describing the differences between Gwyn and Gwyna, who she feels the most comfortable playing, and how she fits in with both parties. The fact she is a girl means several restrictions for Gwyna, but she fits in best with the boys at first. For a long time Gwyn thinks of himself as a boy, but once he is taught the ways of the woman, she begins to enjoy life as a girl, though still preferring a boy’s life. This shows an appealing view on sexual stereotypes.

 

To sum up, I think that Here Lies Arthur, despite being confusing, is a wonderful and original novel, and I would gladly recommend it to my age group.

 

 

Gloriya, from Hampstead School London

Being all alone in a dark dark place, Gwyna is a girl that is all alone, until a strange but kind man found her.

 

Not useful as a girl, Gwyna was turned into a boy by the strange man who was known as Myrddin (a magician). Her name was changed to Gwyn. As Myrddin took her to the village, Gwyn saw Arthur (the king), and began a proper life as a boy.

Going to war, fighting, experiencing so many things, Gwyna almost forgot she was a girl.

 

But as the story continues, Arthur's wife realises that that is a girl not a boy. Myrddin turned Gwyna back to a girl. She was one of the Mistresses’ workers.

Joe, from University College School London

This book was published in 2007. it has been shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2008 and the Booktrust Teenage Prize. It is 289 pages long and is set in the 5th to 6th centuries. The story takes place all over ancient Britain from castles to ruins and rivers. The story is based on the King Arthur story but the main character is a girl called Gwyna who is also the story-teller. The story starts when Arthur’s band raid and burn Gwyna’s home and kin and Gwyna manages to scramble into a river and swim away as the only survivor. Myrddin (Merlin), Arthur’s wizard, takes her in, disguises her as a boy and they go on all sorts of adventures together but how long will it be until someone sees through the disguse…

 

The main characters are Arthur, Myrddin and Gwyna. My favourite character is Peredur - he is a boy disguised as a girl and is ridiculously overconfident and cocky.

 

My favourite part is when Peredur and Gwyna play a trick on Saint Porroc and make him have a swim in the rough sea to wash away his sins.

 

The only weak point of the book is that it is slightly repetitive.

Joey, from University College School London

This is rather a confusing book, and now, if you allow me, I will endeavour to tell you why I think this. First of all, it takes very tired subject matter, the subject of King Arthur, which is okay if you add a twist; however, the ‘twist’, although it is relatively imaginative, doesn’t make a very big difference in the characters, and is not nearly big enough to separate it from the likes of The Once and Future King.

 

Onto the characters, and the lack of character therein. Even the most lively characters, such as Gwyna, our heroine, seem predictable, even boring sometimes. Myrddin (apparently pronounced ‘marthinn*) is a slight exception. The spontaneity of him hiring Gwyna is refreshing. Another thing: the names are utterly infuriating. I don’t care, I don’t want to know that I should pronounce the rather cumbersome ‘Calchvynydd’ as ‘kalckvanith*’ (and anyway why can’t Reeve just call the village Albans or Springfield or something) and then, not content with only mildly agitating me, he proceeds to reassure me that “*In this case, ‘th’ is pronounced as it is in the English word ‘then’”. I can understand why Reeve does this - to give the book a touch of authenticity -  but it is fiction! It doesn’t need authenticity! The character of Arthur (the only character with no alternate spelling of name) is strong, and also has a powerful idea behind it – in my opinion, the most powerful idea in the book. The idea is that he is not the strapping Christian Knight that he is made out to be by Malory and co., but really a bully who goes around bullying weaker bullies, and demanding their taxes that they bully from peasants. This turns notions of our valiant ‘King of England’ on its head.

 

The plot is one of the book’s more mixed features. Whilst at times it can be unpredictable (for instance at the beginning when Gwyna is asked to be Myrddin’s apprentice) it can also be horribly predictable  (for instance the ‘twist’ of Myrddin aging). It was at times, dare I say it, compelling, - the Gwenhwyfar (pronounced gooennhooeevarr) Bedywr affair was done nicely, even though the pathetic fallacy at the end was slightly melodramatic, and clichéd.

Joshua, from University College School London

Philip Reeve’s book is set in the 8th or 9th century. Here Lies Arthur is a tale of Camelot and King Arthur. However, it is told from a new perspective, from a servant girl’s. Merlin saves her when Arthur raids her village. It is about her experiences under Myrddin’s, then Gwenhwyfar’s service.

 

The first half of the book was slightly dull I admit, though I think Philip Reeve’s other books, for example Mortal Engines, are by far much better. However, the Second half of the book was absolutely astonishing. Action packed, the book returns to Philip’s deserved glory. I respect this part of the book and think it is vastly improved from the first half. I adore the use of violence and retribution, lust and bereavement. I can imagine it easily as a motion picture. I think that towards the end the book gets a bit gory. Hurrah!!!

 

As I have previously stated, the book’s first half is lacklustre, and extremely wearisome. I think that Arthur could have involved Gwyna (the main character) in more action scenes. Perhaps less cowardly when it comes to war, but to be honest, the second half of the book makes up for what the first part didn’t. Action.

 

In conclusion, my verdict is that the book is aimed at a little lower reading age than mine, and some of the language is quite basic, however the content is brilliant (overall) and the book has its fair share of action. I reckon a decent 9/10!!!

Meera, from The Henrietta Barnett School London

This book was set in the past. Arthur’s character is based on King Arthur. The book is about a poor girl called Gwyna, she helps Arthur’s magician Myrddin one day and he allows her to join him on his travels with Arthur and his army. Myrddin’s apprentice Gwyna learns that none of what he does is actually magic. All he does is use words to play with people’s minds and convince them to listen to Arthur. Gwyna has to pretend to be a boy so that she blends in while being an apprentice. When she becomes older she goes back to being a girl and works as a maid.

 

I thought the book was a bit slow to begin with as you don’t really find out that Myrddin can’t do magic until a little way in. It was really interesting finding out how Myrddin makes up tales about Arthur and also very clever how he convinces people to like him, when he is actually a very mean and greedy person. I think it was a very good idea of the authors to make Gwyna pretend to be a boy as you read things from a boy’s and girl’s point of view. I liked that when Gwyna changed back to a girl she still had many of her boyish manners and opinions so it was quite funny to read about how she struggled.

 

The book was very original and had lots of twists and turns, especially when Gwyna first pretends to be a boy. My favourite part was when she was travelling with Myrddin and Arthur, as her life was most exciting then.

 

I liked Gwyna’s character a lot because I thought she was very brave in pretending to be a boy and travelling into unknown places, but my favourite character was Myrddin. I like him, as he was extremely clever and very loyal to Arthur even when he knows Arthur is wrong. He was also quite a surprising character because at the end he tells Gwyna that she is like a daughter/son to him and that he loves her very much.

 

I think by the end of the book Gwyna’s character changes a lot due to her many different experiences. She becomes much wiser and less naive, a lot more like Myrddin.

Oscar, from University College School London

Philip Reeve is one of the nation’s most popular and best loved children’s writers, largely due to his Mortal Engines quartet, and this book certainly confirms his status. It tells the tale of King Arthur through the eyes of a young peasant-girl called Gwyna. It is an interesting re-telling of the legend, largely due to the author introducing new elements to the story such as Merlin (or ‘Myrddin’ - pronounced Marthinn) being a story-teller and who indeed makes up the whole legend.

 

It has been very well told and with more realism than most Arthur stories. Yet this is still truly faithful to the legend and is written like a fantasy. The heroine of the story, a young country girl called Gwyna, joins the company of Myrddin, meeting strange people and seeing strange sights, yet nothing is quite what it should be. No ladies in lakes, no swords in stones and Arthur isn’t in the least heroic - the only thing magical here are the stories that Myrddin tell and the things that that makes people do.

 

One of the more unusual threads in this story is the ‘boy-disguised-as-girl’ and ‘girl-disguised-as-boy’ element. This is by no means unusual and has been used many times: in an awful lot of Shakespeare and in a couple of books that pass more than a striking resemblance to Here Lies Arthur - The Knight and the Squire and The Lady and the Squire by Terry Jones. Yet, despite this being a cliché it works very well in this setting.

 

But what makes the whole book special is the de-mystifying of the legend - King Arthur makes a good story but this feels more real. Not told from the perspective of a central figure to the story, as Gwyna is just a looker-on, keeping the story firmly on its feet. It is exciting and surprising  yet at a leisurely enough pace to not lose the charm of it. All in all it is a fantastic re-working of a fantastic story and definitely a good read.

Radha, from The Henrietta Barnett School London

Here lies Arthur is based on the legendary Arthur but not quite as we know him. Arthur is not a king but just leads a group of rough tuff fighters. Arthur acts very big and strong but that is only because of his great friend and employee Myddrin. Myddrin is a story-teller who talks of all the great heroic adventures his master has had (Arthur). Everything people know about Arthur is what they have heard in Myddrin’s famous stories.

 

This novel is for children and teenagers but still has that gritty realism and goriness. Arthur is a bad tempered piece of work and anyone or anything that gets in his way is dead within seconds. Many people don’t know this as Myddrin paints him out to be the perfect hero.

 

Arthur is not at all the main character in the book but it is about a young girl called Gwyna. This girl is stranded until Myddrin finds her and takes her. Problems start to occur as there is no place for girls in a war band so she becomes a boy and finds it much more interesting. She seems too good to be true as she finds one thing she would never like to do again - fight in a war. This is the most thrilling experience ever as she is surrounded by killing, fighting and dying.

 

Gwyna must turn back to a girl because of adolescence and now she must do all the chores a women does which does not exceed her expectations. Very quickly she becomes bored of it and just dreams of the times she was a boy. “They giggle. They whisper. They gossip. That wasn’t the life for me.” This is what Gwyna thought of the other girls; she didn’t like it at all. “I tried being girlish but it just didn’t work”. Gwyna thought that she would never be able to fit in. Gwyna learns all about Myddrin’s life and sees him telling all the stories first hand; she even becomes part of his stories when she takes part in his lake lady trick. When Gwyna leaves Myddrin she still does tricks that she has learnt off Arthur. She finds a lot of friends but also a lover.

 

This novel is gruesome right down to the bone but it is also quite romantic. I would recommend this book to anybody as I found it was fantastic. I could read it again and again without getting bored.

Sophie, from The Henrietta Barnett School London

Here lies Arthur is a well written novel and it was enjoyable to read. Friendship, betrayal, and lies. The book is set with a Welsh background as you can tell from the names of the characters and towns. The word pronunciation glossary at the back was helpful.

 

Gwyna is a servant and the house where she was serving has been burnt down by the famous Arthur’s Band. She escapes into the forest and gets picked up by a magician called Myriddin. She plays a vital part in faking the magical sword coming out of the river, as Arthur thinks he is being given the magical sword by a mysterious Goddess. Myriddin wants to keep Gwyna  so she can travel with him and Arthur’s band. For her to be allowed to travel with the band, she has to be a boy. Myridden changes her into a boy by cutting her hair and giving her clothes suited for a boy.

 

As they travel Myriddin tells stories to make Arthur look strong brave and courageous, but the stories he tells are not about Arthur, but either made up or from a story about some other hero. Gwyna, now called Gwyn, gets to be by the battlefront for various battles as no other girls could. She has her own horse called Dewi and she loves her very much. She lives as a boy and builds up friendships.

 

Gwyna changes back into a girl as her identity would soon be discovered as she was growing more feminine as she grew older. She now served in the household of Arthur’s wife. His wife had an affair with Bedwyr, Gwyna’s friend from when she was a boy, and Gwyna finds out. She tells Myirddin as she thinks she can trust him, but word spreads to Arthur and he rushes back to kill Bedwyr. Gwyna and Arthur’s wife run away and hide in the bushes. By the morning Arthur’s wife was floating in the stream.

 

Arthur sends his step-brother Cei’s band to fight a planned war. Gwyna escapes in the night to join the band. The band get killed as planned but Gwyna and Peredur survive. Gwyna goes back to Myriddin, her master who is ill. Myriddin tells her how she loves Gwyna as a daughter and was devastated when she left. Eventually Myriddin dies.

 

This book is well written with short chapters and good use of language that can be easily understood. I felt this book keeps you going as you want to find out more and can’t put the book down.

Tom, from University College School London

Here Lies Arthur is yet another realistic Arthurian legend, one of the seemingly endless stream of books sprouting from the brains of all sorts of different authors. Now, as much as we may get a little tired of them, and though we all hate to say it, these Arthurian makeovers are actually very good. This one is set from a particularly interesting and unusual angle: Gwyna, a slave girl, begins the story fleeing from Arthur’s knights, when she meets Myrddin (Merlin), and is taken under his wing. She soon discovers the true secret behind Arthur’s power stems not from his sword arm – but from Myrddin’s lips.  Gwyna becomes Myrddin’s apprentice, and under his supervision begins to learn the true power of words – that through just one story one can make a tyrant become a hero.

 

The plot is complex enough to keep the book interesting, without becoming overly complicated. As the book is set over a large period of time we get to see the characters age, and I think that Philip Reeve very successfully managed to illustrate the changes of character and the development of relationships that occur as time passes. Myrrdin was an interesting character, as was Arthur; Gwyna wasn’t captivating, though her character did change throughout the book from shy slave girl to confident, intelligent woman, but was well done.

 

Overall, I enjoyed this book: perhaps not the deepest investigation into the thoughts and feelings of humanity, but an enjoyable page-turner, with a novel perspective, good use of humour and some effective suspenseful moments.