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One of the most enigmatic and mysterious characters of Arthurian legend is Arthur's illegitimate son, Mordred. Unfortunately, he is also one of the least explored. In a market flooded with preachy, badly-written Arthuriana, "I Am Mordred" shines like a rare, dark gem.
The book opens with King Arthur sadly setting dozens of newborn babies adrift on the ocean. Several years later, we see a young boy living peacefully with a fisherman and his wife. Their happy lives are interrupted when a woman named Nyneve rides in to bring Mordred back to his biological family, the royal family of Lothian. However, they are not pleased to see him.
He soon finds out why: he is the product of incest between King Arthur and his half-sister Morgause, and is destined to kill his father someday. Shocked by this, Mordred goes to Camelot and soon begins craving his father's love and acceptance. He is also terrified of the prophecy that he will kill Arthur, and does everything he can to fight it. But can he fight his destiny, or only fulfil it?
This is probably the best book I've read by Nancy Springer, a dark, beautiful, suspenseful and very sad novel. It's very rare to find an inspired Arthurian novel with any new material, but she pulls it off by creating a new Mordred -- this is not the monster who wants to kill Arthur for no reason, but a confused young man who only wants to be loved by his father, while knowing he is doomed to destroy him.
One of the primary themes is whether a person is "born bad"; Mordred has, in his lifetime, done nothing wrong. Yet he is treated as a pariah by the people around him. His loneliness is broken only by Arthur and by Mordred's dog, Gull. While traditional Arthurian legends seem to be based around the idea of Mordred being evil because of his incestuous conception, Springer simply breaks those ideas apart. Nobody is simply born to be evil. Destiny and fate are some of the items that are also explored: Mordred seeks a way to avoid fulfilling the prophecy, but risks fulfilling it through avoidance.
Mordred is an incredibly appealing character. He's merely a shy, introspective teenager who has been shunned by his relatives and by others in Camelot. His desperation is present on almost every page, as is his isolation, but Springer makes it sympathetic. Nobody will want to say "just shut up and quit whining"; rather, they'll be hoping that Mordred can somehow beat the prophecy, while knowing that he's all but certain to fail. Arthur is a good supporting character, surprisingly complex. Springer portrays him as an essentially good man who committed a terrible crime in an effort to save himself and his kingdom, and who regrets it. He wants to love Mordred as Mordred wants to be loved, but is as afraid of the prophecy as Mordred is.
Springer's writing is descriptive and evocative; it's a little flowery, but not too flowery. She has an excellent sense of buildup and suspense, that grows as the book progresses. The first and last chapters are written in third-person style, which may seem like a jolt when most of the book is written from Mordred's perspective; however, it becomes clear why this is necessary.
I would not advise this book for younger children. There's no objectionable content in it, but a great deal of focus on incest and the social stigmas attached to children born of it. The overall storyline is rather dark and occasionally violent, and Mordred's perpetual struggle against fate is a very psychologically intense storyline that may upset smaller children. Mature 9-12 kids and all teens ought to be able to handle this, and all the subtle undertones and nuances.
You'll be hard-pressed to find a more beautiful and original Arthurian book published in recent years. "I Am Mordred" is an amazing addition to anyone's library, whether they are a fan of Camelot or not.
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on November 15, 2000
One day you're just this normal little kid and the next you find out that you are the son of a king who tried to kill you. That's how it was for Tad (Mordred) when Nyneve came to his simple house one day. He was King Authur's one and only son. It was prophesied by Merlin that his son would grow up and kill him. So king Athur killed all of the baby boys of that year, well Mordred survived. He grew up and became a knight of the round table and served Authur until that fateful day, when the prophecy was supposed to come true. Read this book to find out what happens to Mordred. This book is probably one of the saddest books that I have ever read. It is also one of the best written books that I have read. The suspense of it kept me right on the edge of my seat the whole way through. To see Mordred's fate unfolding right in front of him will live you breathless at times. I feel that although it made me cry that it is a book worth reading. Fiction
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on April 17, 1999
I thought the book was good.I'm 11 years old, and thought that there was a lot of description and detail. There was also a lot of gore and bloody scenes. It is very sad at the end, but I really lked the book. It is very entertaining and makes you want t o keep reading. A real page turner.
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on September 12, 2004
I read Morgan le Fay first, and although it was good, one must know that I am inclined to like the predecessors more than I do "sequels," so I had to pick up I am Mordred. I am so glad I did because I think it is even better than Morgan le Fay, although I do recommend both books.

Cursed from the day he was born, Mordred must live with his awful fate that he will, one day, be the one who kills King Arthur of Camelot. Mordred is the bastard son of Arthur and his half-sister, Morgause--the evil product of incest. To try to avoid fate, King Arthur tries to kill Mordred, along with hundreds of baby boys, but Mordred, of course, survives. Mordred survies to live with a fishermen family before one day moving to live with his "mother" Queen Morgause of Lothian. There, he is raised as one of her sons, and when he turns fifteen, he is sent to King Arthur, as all young lads are. He learns more about his horrible fate, and although he hates his father for trying to murder him, he cannot help but feel for this noble man the king, and struggling between his soul and fate, Mordred tries to save King Arthur and himself. Mordred is so much more well-rounded, and he's a character that readers can empathize with. Readers will read as Mordred struggles with his inner "demon" so to speak and his loving, tender side. The Lady of the Lake, Merlin, and Morgan le Fay are only a few of the characters that come alive in this portrayal of Mordred, and they play very important roles in Mordred's story. It is lyrically written, one of the better Camelot books I have read. It is a little short, but still a worthwhile read!
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on November 27, 2015
It's an interesting tale but I especially like it because its metaphors are so extraordinarily wonderful and different so if you appreciate and look for unusual metaphors like I do you will probably like it. The middle school students I subbed for the day I was perusing this book told me they enjoyed the book as well so its appeal spans quite an age range. I just received the book and have not finished it yet but it's been worth ordering.
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on February 25, 2001
How would you feel if you were destined to kill the greatest king that Camelot ever saw? What would you do if that same king were your very own father? These are the two things that Mordred, son of the wise and noble King Arthur, must live with all his life in this enchanting novel. All of Mordred's life, his name has been the most feared in Camelot. When he was born to King Arthur, Merlin, a wizard, prophesized that Mordred would kill his father. The people believed this and to prevent his death, King Arthur was forced to put his baby in a boat and send him off to sea. However, Mordred miraculously survived and when he was six years-old, then living with a fisherman and wife, he was taken to his mother, Queen Morgause, King Lothe, her husband and king of Lothian, and their sons Gaiwan and Garet. However, Lothian does not feel like home, mostly because he is never called son, so he decides to go to Camelot when he is 15. About a year before he is due to leave, his brother gets mad and tells Mordred about Merlin's prophecy. After he hears this, Mordred decides to try and fight his fate. In Camelot, it feels a little bit more like home, but not completely. He still is not called son. When Mordred is knighted, he goes on a quest and finds Merlin. The wizard, now in bird's form, shows Mordred how he will kill Arthur. Mordred returns to Camelot more determined than ever to fight his destiny. The book I Am Mordred was mostly good. One plus was all of the plot twists. However, some of them were a bit confusing. Another plus was adding a more magical touch in the story of Camelot. Normally, all you hear about is Merlin and dragons. I think the addition of magical trails, castles, and sorceresses helped Nancy Springer a lot. Although the plot is difficult, kids from grades five to nine would like it. I think it is the kind of material that young teens might enjoy. For these reasons, I give I Am Mordred by Nancy Springer a four out of five stars.
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on August 14, 2013
This is an interesting take on Mordred from the Arthurian Legends. It is told in the first person. Mordred does not really die in the end, but then...does Arthur?

Mordred finds out who his father is (King Arthur) and that `fate' dictates he must kill him at the age of 27. He spends his youth trying to find a way to change his fate through journeys, quests and people. Don't forget magic!

Chapter 13 is very descriptive and imaginative. It sends us speeding to the end.

I liked Nyneve because she was strong and believed in true love. Mordred was an every day tween/teen trying to find his place in this world. A true coming-of-age tale.

This book is full of sorrow, but hope as well. It tells us to never give up hope until we give up our souls!
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on October 7, 1999
I think this book was the greatest. It sucks you in and makes you want to keep reading. I would recomend this book to anyone who likes to read about King Aurther. This book makes you feel sorry for Mordred. At the end you will have tears in your eyes.
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on May 26, 1999
Before I read this book, I had never read any stories just about Mordred. I love Arthurian lore, and this is a great book portraying Merlin in a new light.
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on March 18, 2004
I purchased this book and was very pleased after I finished reading it. The characters are very well written and there is always a lot going on. In fact, I couldn't put the book down. Towards the end of the story I felt as though Mordred was someone I knew in real life, and in fact, I wept for him towards the end. He fulfilled his destiny, and what a sad destiny it was.
The only reason I gave this book four stars instead of five is because, I felt as though the story could have been a bit longer, just to detail a bit more on Mordred's experiences in life. Wonderful book though!
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