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English teacher interested in language and culture, and also in fiction using magic, myth, folklore and the supernatural. Now teaching part-time in a Leicester Upper School (ages 14-19) and also writing for children, teens and teachers.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Magical Monday Review: Sword of Light by Katherine Roberts

Fabulous Arthurian-themed fantasy introducing a new character to the legends.

Author: Katherine Roberts
Title: Sword of Light
Series: Pendragon Legacy 1
Genre: Fantasy (Kids)
Publisher: Templar
Published: Feb 2012 (hardback; paperback due out Oct 2012)

Source: won from Feeling Fictional

Find it at Amazon UK or Goodreads

The blurb says:
It is the darkest hour of the darkest Age. King Arthur is dead, killed by his wicked nephew, Mordred. Saxon invaders rampage across the land and forces of evil are gathering. The path to the throne lies open to Arthur's only remaining flesh and blood - Mordred. But there is one with a better claim than Mordred - Arthur's secret child. Brought by Merlin to enchanted Avalon as a baby and raised there for protection, the king's heir must take up a vital quest: to search for the four magical Lights with the power to restore Arthur's soul to his body. Introducing Rhianna Pendragon: unlikely princess and Camelot's last hope.

My verdict: A great read! Exciting adventure, magic and mystery for the 9-12 crowd
I really enjoyed this one. Katherine Roberts has created a world that it's a great pleasure to get lost in. Familiar elements of the Arthur stories are woven seamlessly with the new inventions and children will delight in Rhianna's adventures. It's a treat to see a female protagonist in this kind of novel and, as you can see from the cover, this is not a 'girly' book. I would happily give it to a boy or girl to enjoy.

Rhianna is a fabulous character. At the opening of the book, she doesn't know who she is - she's simply the only human in Avalon, allowing for some 'odd one out' feelings to be explored. As a girl, she faces difficulties in persuading others that she can play an active role in protecting her heritage. She's feisty and determined, in keeping with her unruly red hair, and this can lead her into rashness but she also - sometimes - shows signs of wisdom and cunning in dealing with her enemies.

Her best friend, Prince Elphin of Avalon, accompanies her on her journey into the mortal realm. He is calm and gentle and, as a fairy prince, has magical abilities. He makes a good contrast to Rhianna and allows her a young friend and ally in the uncertain world of mortals, in which she mostly has to deal with adults who (of course) assume they know best.

No review of this book is complete without a mention of the fairy horses ridden by Elphin and Rhianna. These are a brilliant addition, increasing the magic and enchantment in the story, as well as providing the Avalonian pair with more allies. Child readers will love them and dream of their own magical friends, I'm sure.

Overall, this is a tightly-written, classic quest tale with engaging characters and a well thought out premise.  There are going to be four in this series, and I will definitely be looking out for the others as they are released.

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