Scots-born Whyte continues the saga of King Arthur over two mid- centuries of the first millennium. The Skystone (1996) focused on the discovery of the miraculous bright ore from which Excalibur will be forged (The Singing Sword, not reviewed). The third and fourth volumes limned the twilight of the Roman occupation of Britain and the rise of the Camulod colony under Merlyn Britannicus and Uther Pendragon, Arthur’s father. Merlyn raised the orphaned Arthur, who was still a child (!) at the end of the fourth volume (The Saxon Shore, 1998). In the present installment’s rich but slumbering realism, a failed assassination of the boy Arthur prompts Merlyn to take the future king to a distant, abandoned Roman fort at the river’s bend, where he’ll be safe—or at least safer. While Merlyn toughens him up for his coming assumption of the mystic sword and symbol of the chivalric honor that will unite Britain, young Pendragon trains ceaselessly with a wooden practice sword and is bent wholly on one day making a commanding presence at the head of his troops. But Merlyn fears the worst when Arthur returns to face a host of newly risen enemies. Whyte has a grand time bolting his story together—though at this rate, grinding as slowly as the mills of the gods, he may have to FedEx his final volumes from the beyond.