ARTORIUS REX by John Gloag

ARTORIUS REX

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A tedious tale of Roman Britain around 500 A.D., some years after the fall of the Empire, told in the form of a report to the Emperor Justinian by Caius Geladi, onetime tutor to the British ruler Artorins (whom you may know as King Arthur). Caius (Sir Cay) is a descendant of the Roman family which starred in the other two novels of Gloag's trilogy, Caesar of the Narrow Seas and The Eagles Depart. He is a supercilious man, full of contempt for British ways and drains. His tale is one of border skirmishes with the Picts, feuds between otiose British princelings, and the slow encroachment of the Saxons--one of whom, Gwinfreda (Guinevere) weds Artorius. But the Lancelot-Guinevere-Arthur triangle gets barely two paragraphs amidst battles. Contrasts between classicism and Arthurian romance can be ridiculous--as when Merlin magically transforms himself from young to old before Geladi's eyes: ""Of course it was some clever trick that would be accepted by the ignorant as magic; but I was annoyed. I dislike the inexplicable, which is perhaps why I can never be a sincere Christian,"" The romance has gone out of the Arthurian material and we are left with meticulous pedantry, as dry as Roman dust.

Pub Date: Sept. 15th, 1977
Publisher: St. Martin's