by Felicity Pulman.
I received a free copy of this book for review from NetGalley.
I’ve long been fascinated by the legend of King Arthur, especially retellings where new perspectives or unexpected elements are added. Consequently, as soon as I saw this title available on NetGalley, I applied. In many ways its the traditional legend of King Arthur, except this version is told in 1st person from the point of view of Morgana (Morgan le Fay), Arthur’s sorceress half-sister. Raised from a young age with the expectation of ruling her father Gorlois’ kingdom, Morgana sees her birthright usurped first by Uther Pendragon and then by Arthur. Consumed with the need for revenge, Morgana uses magic learned from Merlin to make her plans, and unwittingly sets in motion a far larger catastrophe.
This was an interesting read. We fully get the feeling of Morgana blundering ahead fueled by her emotions, and not really thinking through her actions until afterwards. Which is a problem when you work irreversible magics. This book definitely paints her more as a young woman, hurt and lashing out, than the evil incarnate some other versions depict her as. There were some new elements added, such as her having been taught by Merlin originally, and also a liaison with one of Arthur’s knights that has far-reaching consequences. Arthur and Guenevere appear in a much less flattering light, which was refreshing. The writing, though, was heavy on the telling rather than showing, so I never did get fully immersed in the story. And while Morgana as a character is more understandable with this narration, she did tend to harp on about how everyone had betrayed her and she’d get even, long past when she should’ve outgrown such a teenage sentimentality (this book spans several decades in her life). By the end, she is full of remorse and regret, but the growth to get to that point wasn’t as fully fledged out as it could’ve been.
But overall, if you have a liking for Arthurian lore, this is work picking up. It’s a quick read, and weaves in some new elements.