WITCH OF THE NORTH: Vol II in the Story of Dragon's Heirs by Courtway Jones

WITCH OF THE NORTH: Vol II in the Story of Dragon's Heirs

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The second in Jones's King Arthur trilogy (In the Shadow of the Oak King, 1991), in which the golden myths are hammered into highly serviceable clang-and-gallop adventures. The centerpiece now is Morgan Le Fey--in the Monmouth/Malory/Tennyson versions, the witchiest witch of them all, but Jones gives her a good press. Morgan here is a square shooter, a crackerjack ""shield maiden,"" a swell mom and stepmother, and a regular royal Queen of Calloway. Her only semi-mystic ability is to shrivel enemies with a cloud of rage. Morgan is handed early her obligation to avenge when her father is killed by the King of Briton, Uther Pendragon, who's been sporting with Morgan's mother, Ingraine the Gold (who will produce Arthur). While staying with Aunt Morgause and those who serve the Mother goddess, Morgan is raped by King Lot (father of Gawain, Morgan's beloved cousin), and another blood obligation is on the table. There'll be Morgan's marriage to Urien, King of Gore, a Piet (Jones's substitute for Malory's Saracens), and then the mothering of sons--but the bulk of the action concerns feudin', fightin' and chest-thumping parleys among the royals and offspring. (The highly symbolic matings provide a fascinating genealogical topography of relationships.) A generous slice of the Round Table gang appear--including Pelleas, here High King of the Piets and Arthur's half-brother, hero of In the Shadow of the Oak King; the G-men (Gawain, Gaheris, and Gareth); Arthur, of course (mainly distraught); chilly Lancelot; and unstrung Guenevere. Morgan is livelier than Pelleas was in the last novel, and for those not bothered by the cheerful pillaging of the old tales, this second thumps along briskly. Also some characters achieve a demi-solidity--Jones's view of the unlovely triangle of Arthur, Lancelot, and Guenevere is flesh and inventive. Rather fun.

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 1992
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Pocket Books/Simon & Schuster