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THE KING’S NAME by Jo Walton

THE KING’S NAME

By Jo Walton

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-312-87653-X
Publisher: Tor

Walton began her Arthurian fantasy cycle with The King’s Peace (2000), in which the famous characters bear Welsh names and visionary King Urdo, ruling at Caer Tanaga, strives to bind his disunited nobles against the yellow-haired Jarnish invading Tir Tanagri. The barbarians capture the warrior Sulien ap Gwien, rape and impregnate her, and kill her brother Darien. Sulien names her son Darien after her brother and herself, not after his real father, Ulf Gunnarsson. Now division again enters the land. Urdo still wants all of Tir Tanagri’s petty kingdoms to be one country with a single set of laws. Ulf Gunnarsson has joined Sulien while evil Morthu, the son of Urdo’s late sorceress sister Morwen, rises as the chief villain. While visiting her sister Aurien’s hall at Magor, Sulien drinks cider poisoned by Aurien with henbane. After retching in her room, she is set onto her horse Beauty by Conal Fishface and at midnight rides home to Derwen to recover, although Conal dies fighting off her pursuers. Urdo has tried to make peace with the Jarns, but the nobles believe Urdo has stronger ties to the Jarns now settled here than to them, and the attempted poisoning leads Sulien to believe that Aurien is deeply implicated in the civil war now underway. Morthu’s magic eventually leads to Urdo’s death on the field—but then Morthu meets even stronger magic.

Arthurian cycles can be more engaging than Walton’s fantasia (see Haydn Middleton’s trilogy)—but fantasy fans will ask for more.