The Circle Cast by Alex Epstein
|The Circle Cast by Alex Epstein|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: A strong approach to the Arthurian battles as a young girl grows into the compelling figure of Morgan le Fay.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 240||Date: February 2011|
Anna is just a girl of eleven, when her father is involved in protecting the British Isles from the Saxon invaders. But, when the warlord Uter Pendragon decides to claim her mother Ygraine as his, with lethal consequences, things change. Her locale - from southwestern England, to sanctuary in Ireland. Her standpoint - from proud young girl absorbing some passed-down military knowledge, to a young woman of magic, bent on vengeance. And her name - from Anna, to Morgan.
This is a book cleverly pitched for two camps. The adult reader may sigh of ennui at another rewrite of some strand of Arthurian legend, although of course the growth in the character of Morgan le Fay has not been too-often touched upon. Here, Merlin makes slight appearances, Uter is a uniter of the country with a debatably nasty mien and legacy, and Morgan is... well, read on.
And the young fantasy reader will be doing that without my behest. It's a subtle read, as the exiled girl forms a spiritual link with a Morrigan-style character, and grows in magical ability and arcane knowledge. The cut and thrust of primitive battle is initially absent in the favour of more personal, intimate events, leading to Morgan's romantic beginnings.
As a result this has an old-fashioned personality, with little to shine as a cinematic set-piece, but more a softer, more feminine edge. That's not to say it's exclusively for female teens, although this grown-up could quibble at the author's bluntly-given definitions of names lost in the mists of time as being not quite convincing enough.
But elsewhere there is enough authority, punch and conviction to the relevant chapter ends, and in scenes such as ones with a Christian missionary. The general sweep of Morgan's growth in power and experience push this beyond the edges of Arthurian fiction into a commendable teen fantasy. It doesn't have to continue on from the ending we get, but even on much more familiar ground as he would be, Mr Epstein could probably turn in something most compelling.
I must thank the publishers for my review copy.
This had a timeless fantasy quality, without chasing the obvious action, as the series begun with Blue Flame by K M Grant.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Circle Cast by Alex Epstein at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Circle Cast by Alex Epstein at Amazon.com.
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