I Am The Blade by J P Buxton
|I Am The Blade by J P Buxton|
|Reviewer: Robert James|
|Summary: A young boy in the Dark Ages is forced to grow up quickly as he runs from the man who killed his guardian in what’s set to be an epic series, but failed to really capture my attention due to characters who didn’t really appeal to me that much.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 352||Date: June 2010|
|Publisher: Hodder Children's Books|
In the Dark Ages, Tog is brought up by a woodcutter. Strangely, he's being taught rather more than you'd expect a woodcutter's apprentice to be learning, including how to read and write Latin. Why?
I have no idea how to tell you this, to be honest, because I generally try not to give away more than the back of the book does, which is rather little in this case. However, publicity for this book and 90% of the reviews I've read are going into what I'd normally consider spoiler territory, so I think I'm going to have to join them.
So, spoiler warning...
Tog is King Arthur, and this is the latest retelling of the start of his story. Fiercely realistic and gritty, with only a few of the familiar characters, most of whom are heavily disguised, this certainly isn't your traditional Arthurian legend. As a study of the history of the Dark Ages, it's compelling. Author JP Buxton manages to really get across the time period, the battling tribes of Englishmen, Cornishmen and Picts, and makes an interesting decision in pretty much stripping the majority of the usual magical and fantastical elements out of the story, meaning it definitely stands out compared to other chronicles of the legend.
However, while there's plenty of positives about the book, I was left rather unmoved in many ways. I never felt Tog or his companions were particularly engaging characters, and while I appreciated the plotting and backstabbing the characters were doing which made them extremely well-rounded and realistic, it just isn't the same reading about people when I can't bring myself to care too much which of them make it through the book.
I also thought the actual writing changed significantly as the book went on. At the start it was quite detailed, descriptive, and used language I'd thought was appropriate to the time period. By the halfway point, we got to a couple of bizarre expressions - notably someone who won a fight because 'he was not knackered by loving', and Tog's description of a companion as 'just mucking about.' Both seemed really jarring against the rest of the book and didn't help my attempts to sink into the story much.
Mild recommendation for fans of historical fiction and/or King Arthur, but slightly disappointing given that I was really looking forward to this one.
Further reading suggestion: Even though it’s perhaps aimed at younger children, there’s a reason T H White’s The Sword in the Stone is often regarded as a classic entry into Arthurian fiction. For another interesting retelling of a classic English legend, Stephen R Lawhead’s Hood (as in Robin) will appeal to adults and older teens.
You can read more book reviews or buy I Am The Blade by J P Buxton at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy I Am The Blade by J P Buxton at Amazon.com.
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