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Damosel: In Which the Lady of the Lake Renders a Frank and Often Startling Account of her Wondrous Life and Times Paperback – August 10, 2010


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (August 10, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553495119
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553495119
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.1 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,108,650 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 6–10—Spinner's presentation of the Arthurian legends is told primarily through the voice of the Lady of the Lake. Damosel begins by explaining how she used her magical and metalworking abilities to create Excalibur for King Arthur, and how her cousin Nimue's involvement with Merlin led to his imprisonment. Damosel's involvement with Arthur's court continues when Merlin asks her to look after Arthur. She lives her life according to the rules that govern her kind, such as "A Lady Always Keeps Her Promises," but she learns that rules are made to be broken as she finds love and drama in Arthur's court. Damosel's narrative is interspersed with chapters from the perspective of Twixt, Arthur's dwarf court jester, who offers a more intimate and gritty picture of court life. The combination of these two unusual perspectives allows Spinner to create interest and suspense, even though readers know that the conclusion can only be Arthur's downfall. Fans of Arthurian legends will enjoy this new take on these familiar tales.—Beth L. Meister, Milwaukee Jewish Day School, WI
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

In this lovely tale, drawn from Arthurian lore, Merlin commissions Damosel, the Lady of the Lake, to craft a wondrous sword for Arthur, the future king. Intertwined with Damosel’s tale is the story of Twixt, an insightful, clever dwarf, who is rescued from an abusive situation by Tor, an Arthurian knight on his way to Camelot. Twixt becomes a keen observer of court gossip, while Damosel protects Arthur with her powers of enchantment and ability to envision happenings from afar. Together, Damosel and Twixt tell a Camelot saga with all its political intrigue, battles, and romance. The magic is exciting and palpable: I had caused Excaliber to rise out of the water . . . A woman’s pearly white hand held the sword aloft so that it shone in the morning sun. Spinner’s elegant language, strong characterizations, energetic dialogue, and lively plot combine in a memorable, accessible novel. Grades 6-10. --Anne O'Malley --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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See all 7 customer reviews
She makes the marvelous seem real.
Megan P. Brill
Highly recommended, especially for fans of Arthurian legend who are looking for a new take on the world.
Calista P. Brill
It's not often that I just don't know what to make of a book, that I just don't get it.
Reader 200

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Reader 200 on January 27, 2009
Format: Hardcover
It's not often that I just don't know what to make of a book, that I just don't get it. But that is how I feel about Damosel. It is a story of Arthur, Guenivere, Lancelot, etc. told from the perspective of Damosel - the Lady of the Lake, and Twixt - a court dwarf and jester.

The writing is excellent. At two hundered pages, my original thought was that it is intended for a younger audience, but the word craft seemed geared toward older.

The story of Arthur is told from a distance. Other people relay his doings back to Damosel, or Twixt tells of things he saw, but didn't really participate in. Neither Damosel or Twixt themselves had a true story of their own. Things happened to them, but there was no sense of a character ARC or character journey.

The author's notes at the end explains the author's inspiration as: "A story about her (Damosel) began to form in my mind, one that gave interesting (if not plausible) reasons for her stranger behavior." And this is possibly why I had such a hard time loving this. The book is a bunch of vignette, loosely tied together, to give a background to Damosel's behavior. However, as a novel, this just didn't work for me. I end up with lots of information, but very little `story.'
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Enchanting Reviews on April 28, 2009
Format: Hardcover
DAMOSEL (IN WHICH THE LADY OF THE LAKE RENDERS A FRANK AND OFTEN STARTLING ACCOUNT OF HER WONDROUD LIFE AND TIMES)
STEPHANIE SPINNER
Fantasy YA

Rating: 4 Enchantments

DAMOSEL, is the Lady of the Lake and is approached by Merlin to make a beautiful sword for the future King Arthur, a task that will take years. But she makes the wonderful Excalibur and presents it to the young King almost nine years later, setting off a chain of events that will change things forever.

DAMOSEL wasn't quite what I pictured when I read the jacket blurb. I expected more interaction between Damosel herself and Arthur and the rest of the characters anyone familiar with Arthurian legend would expect, but that wasn't quite the way things were. However, DAMOSEL was a very well written, easily engaging story with a novel twist on things. Most of the story is told through stories told to Damosel or things that happen to Twixt. I have to say I really enjoyed the character of Twixt, the dwarf who Sir Tor rescues from his two evil masters most out of all the characters. Damosel herself was also enjoyable, especially in the early part of the book as she bartered to get the gemstones to make Excalibur and as she shared the Rules that the Lady of the Lake must live by and which Damosel strictly adheres to, which added a nice bit of humor to the story as well.

All in all, DAMOSEL is a very unique read, capturing a side of Camelot I hadn't read before.

Stephanie Spinner is the acclaimed author of many books for young readers. After a distinguished career in children's book publishing, she is now a full-time writer. She lives in Sherman, Connecticut.

Lisa
Enchanting Reviews
March 2009
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Brittany Moore VINE VOICE on May 22, 2012
Format: Paperback
The Lady of the Lake played a crucial role in the tale of the Great King Arthur. But what did she do when she wasn't helping the king? She did what others do, bide their time. She talked with her cousin and found a fellow whom she cared deeply for. She used magic and tried to right some wrongs. In this novel, you will get to read about The Lady of the Lake's life before and after she helped Arthur.

I love retellings, and while this isn't strictly speaking a retelling, it did toy with a character that already existed in literature. I thought Stephanie Spinner did a fabulous job making this character, who played a huge role but received little face time, come to life. For being such an old soul, Damosel still had plenty of faults. She failed to accomplish things she wanted to, and broke some rules. It was very interesting learning about her down time between when she was helping king Arthur. It was great to have that timeline to work with mentally though. The handing over of the sword, the rescue of the King, Morgan Le Fay and so on. If you are an Arthurian legend fan, I highly suggest that you check this one out.

First Line:
"I am so well versed in The Rules Governing Ladies of the Lake that I could recite them backward on a dare, but the wisdom I treasure most was gleaned not from that vast, ancient compendium, but from my own earnest blundering.

Favorite Line:
"I wondered if forthright meant 'wails like a banshee.'"
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Calista P. Brill on March 22, 2009
Format: Hardcover
With two very different narrators alternating -- one, the lady of the lake, can hardly get her head out of the misty clouds, and the other, the unfortunate dwarf Twixt, can hardly pick himself out of the dust -- Spinner weaves an unusual take on Arthurian legend. There are no perfect archetypes here, not even in the magical realm. Every character is terribly flawed, but most are trying their best.

I especially like the specific and believable structure of magic and magical culture in the world Spinner creates. From the seemingly infinite number of "rules" governing the ladies of the lake to the elaborate courtesies exchanged between different magical creatures, the world of the fantastic is as detailed and relatable as the "real" world sequences in the book. Spinner also doesn't shy away from some of the stranger episodes in Arthurian legend, incorporating them into the story on their own terms instead of trying to explain away their strangeness or whitewash them.

Arthur's story has a tragic trajectory, but the road to the inevitable is peppered with charming, funny, and moving episodes in the life of both the lady of the lake and Twixt. Highly recommended, especially for fans of Arthurian legend who are looking for a new take on the world.
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