Even during wartime, the more dangerous enemies do indeed sleep within King Arthur’s own household.
The second in Hume’s (Dragon’s Child, 2013) King Arthur trilogy (previously published outside the United States between 2009 and 2010) begins on the battlefield but ends on the more treacherous field of the court itself. The first half is rife with tales of warriors, vengeance, bloodthirsty deeds and clever military strategizing. Artor (as he's called in the book) fights to regain lands lost to the Saxons and to unite Briton. He must overthrow Glamdring Ironfist, whose rash, brutal behavior contrasts sharply with Artor’s thoughtful attention to both tactical trickery and political acumen. Glamdring believes that his possession of the Arden knife will bring him victory. Little does he know that the true knife is a living man, a slave within his own fortress. The second half of Hume’s tome is a tale of domestic troubles, jealousies and cruelties. Urged to produce an heir, Artor must stifle memories of his beloved first wife and marry the vain Wenhaver. The appearance of the shadowy and deliciously evil figure of Morgan on the eve of their betrothal ratchets up the tension. Wenhaver’s explosions of temper, however, threaten not only the marriage bed, but also Artor’s tenuous hold over the kingdom. Yet, an even more sinister force roams the kingdom, viciously assaulting animals, children and women. Artor must find the villain and punish him without compromising his own honor or resurrecting the memory of his evil father, Uther Pendragon. As with her Merlin trilogy, Hume’s passion for legend begets a deep text. Each character—including the imposing Myrddion Merlinus; his apprentice Nimue; the scrappy former slave Bedwyr; and the noble Targo—is fully drawn, with secrets, desires and often noble hopes. The dialogue fittingly shifts from stilted formalities to raw insults.
A saga dark in aspect, rich in detail and mythic in dimension.