The Waking World (The Future King) by Tom Huddleston

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The Waking World (The Future King) by Tom Huddleston

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Category: Teens
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Reimagining of the Arthur myth, set far in the future in a new Dark Ages. Absorbing, interesting and exciting. We're looking forwards to book 2!
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 448 Date: October 2013
Publisher: David Fickling
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 085756045X

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Many tales have been told of the boy who became our greatest king. Very few have spoken of the future...

Aran is the son of one of the Island's wealthiest Laws. He lives in the underground farmstead of Hawk's Cross. He wants for nothing. But Aran is not entirely happy. Rumours are everywhere and the Island is under threat. Bands of fierce men known as Marauders are beginning to attack further and further inland, burning homes and taking slaves. Aran wants to join the fight against them but that task has been given to his older brother. Aran's future lies in overseeing the farmstead and it's not a future he wants.

It seems there's little he can do it about it until, one day, a strange man comes out of the woods. His visit is unsettling and he is not the only outsider Aran will meet. There's Peregrine too - a man nobody trusts but who seems to know things about Aran even Aran doesn't know...

I thought this story was great. Just great. The world Huddleston has created is a second Dark Ages for Britain. Far into the future the country has forgotten twenty-first century technology, just as fifth century Britain had forgotten most of the advances brought to it by the Romans. We're not sure why but global warming and a rise in sea levels is hinted at. Readers will know this is an Arthurian story just by looking at the jacket and the title but Huddleston takes time to introduce his world and his characters before explaining exactly how the once and future king fits in. I liked this patience - it gives the reader chance to relate to what's going on and it also allows for a bit of fun, second guessing people and incidents and their counterparts.

Aran himself is carefully drawn. He's brave but he's also cautious. He's chivalrous but he's also pragmatic. And, as the book goes on, you can see a true king beginning to emerge. The supporting cast is great too - I particularly loved Peregrine, the Merlin counterpart, but there's also the jealous brother, the warlike princess, the sensible and kindly stepfather, and the fatally-flawed real father. All feel like real people. And the vision of a future, technology-free Britain feels real too. The narrative is a great blend of mystery and action and just the right amount of the supernatural.

There's a great deal to like in The Waking World and nothing at all to dislike. It's interesting and absorbing. It's exciting too - how could it not be, with that source material? Its characters are both relatable and likeable. I thoroughly enjoyed it and am looking forward to reading book two.

Everyone should read The Sword in the Stone by T H White - one of the best Arthurian stories out there. You might also enjoy Pendragon Legacy: Sword of Light by Katherine Roberts.

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