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by A.A. Attanasio

Pub Date: June 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-06-109298-3
Publisher: HarperCollins

Sequel to The Dragon and the Unicorn (1996), Attanasio's outlandish justification for an unconventional new version of the Camelot story. Here, Arthor, born a Saxon, is the adoptive son of Celtic chief Kyner, whose natural son is Cei. Upcoming is a desperate struggle between the Celts, some Christians, some devotees of the old Daoine S°d, and the invading Saxons with their Germanic/Norse gods. Saxon King Aelle and his son Cissa are ordered by the Furor (Odin) to attack Camelot and recapture the Furor's sword, Lightning, presently set in stone by Merlin (he's actually a demon called Lailoken) and held in place by a powerful lodestone until such time as Britain's true king shall draw it forth. However, the Furor also orders Brokk, the dwarf-smith who crafted Lightning, to retrieve the sword. Meanwhile, Arthor, a warrior so skillful yet bloodthirsty and insensate that both Merlin and Kyner despair that he will ever acquire the discipline necessary for him to claim the throne, armed with Kyner's sword, Short-Life, is given the task of escorting the captive Fen back to his father, Aelle. Various complications arise. Melania, a young woman with a captured set of hungry lamias, searches for her family's lost treasure. Taking various guises, Morgeu the Fey still stirs up trouble, obstructing Merlin, seducing Arthor. And the elf-lord Bright Night pledges to help Merlin, but will he keep his promise? The backdrop is original if nothing else; otherwise, flavorsome if eccentric, the story offers many charms despite the present-tense narrative.