Volume VI of the Arthurian saga The Camulod Chronicles follows hard upon the previous installment, The Fort at River’s Bend (p. 256). The series focuses at first on the discovery of the ore from which Excalibur is forged, the twilight of the Roman occupation of Britain, and the formation of the Camulod colony by Merlyn Britannicus and Arthur’s father, Uther Pendragon. In the fourth volume, orphaned Arthur was still a child; in the fifth, as a result of a failed assassination, he was taken to an abandoned Roman fort, where Merlyn prepared him as a warrior to receive Excalibur at last. In that episode, young Arthur showed a commanding ability, wisdom, and common sense, but Merlyn’s old enemy back in Cornwall, Peter Ironhair, posed a formidable threat. Now, in Volume VI, the long-awaited metamorphosis takes place, with Arthur assuming his role as a Christian king ready to fight off all invaders. Merlyn’s beloved Tressa dies, and the magician himself comes so close to death that he must go in to a two-year retreat to recover his health. During that period, Arthur grows from youth to man while leading his troops against Carthac, wielding a sword he does not know is a stand-in for Excalibur. When he draws the true Sword from an altar stone at novel’s end and girds Camulod to fight a massive fleet of new invaders, the metamorphosis is complete. The slow pace is necessary in creating the dense experience Whyte intends. Jump in here, now that Arthur’s in motion, and you can always go back to earlier volumes if this look at the legend’s subtext grabs you.