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The Book of Mordred Hardcover – September 12, 2005

3.7 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 8 Up–This novel opens with a portion of a letter written by Brother Lucien to his sister in 1471. In it, he describes a conversation he had with Sir Thomas Malory about the lack of information on Mordred in Le Morte D'Arthur, arguing the merits of including the knight's heroic acts. The book then proceeds to convey events as seen through the eyes of three women who knew him well. Their stories overlap and provide a complete picture of Mordred, fleshing out a portrait of the knight who betrayed Arthur and caused the breakup of the Round Table. Readers will catch glimpses of the exceptional qualities that made him a knight as well as the inner turmoil that caused him to tear Camelot apart. Though all of the characters are well developed and have a strong presence throughout, teens will be especially interested in Keira, who is 5 in the first section of the book, but 15 by the end. Her angst will reflect many of the same conflicts that teenagers face today–the need to belong and the need to be treated as an adult. Mordred also provides an intriguing counterpoint to anyone who is interested in Arthurian legend, the roles that magic played in Camelot, and in seeing Arthur's son in a new light.–June H. Keuhn, Corning East High School, NY
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Gr. 8-11. Mordred's story unfolds over 10 years in sequential stories told from the points of view of three women: Alayna, who appeals to Mordred for help after the kidnapping of her five-year-old daughter Kiera; Nimue, who wears Merlin's ring and wields her own magic; and Kiera, who has always seen visions and, at the age of 15, finds her gift an increasingly heavy burden. In many versions of Arthurian tales Mordred is simply cast as the traitor who brought down Arthur and Camelot, but in this novel he is no cardboard villain. On the contrary, he embodies many of the virtues of chivalry, though he remains an enigmatic figure. With its many characters and complex background, this novel can be confusing at times. Still, many fantasy fans will enjoy the adventure and occasional humor, while those familiar with Arthurian legend will find this a richly imagined retelling of traditional lore. Other novels that focus on Mordred include Sarah Thomson's The Dragon's Son (2001), Nancy Springer's I Am Mordred (1998), and Elizabeth Wein's The Winter Prince (1993). Carolyn Phelan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 840L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers; 1st Printing edition (September 12, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 061850754X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618507542
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,361,665 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Firstly, I have to say that Vivian Vande Velde is my very favorite author. I have ALL of her books (including her children's books) and think that she is an amazing author. So, while I only rated this book three stars, that is by comparing it to her other books, not by other books I have read in the genre of historical fantasy. This book was good and I did read it in a matter of a week, but, that said, I usually stay up all night reading her books and finish them in a day or two. I am a fan of Arthurian legend and have been for some time, so that is not why I don't like this book as well as the others. I found the character of Mordred to be... a bit flat. You never really know him through the entire book and, while he is supposed to be somewhat enigmatic, the general impression that one gets is that he is simply two dimensional. Even in the end, you don't see him really for what he is and you are left wondering "So, what is he really going to do? Who is he really?" Perhaps that is the point, but I thought that this book was supposed to help answer some of the questions about who he was. Instead, it seemed to go more to what he did. Alayna is not a character who ever really comes to life for me either. In the beginning of the book, her character starts to take shape, but in the second two parts, she becomes so secondary and lifeless that she is hard to even notice or care about. Nimue is rather interesting, but what he relationship is with anyone is never really established and she ends up coming off as completely weak and powerless in pretty much every respect, though still likable, I must admit. Kiera is largely the focus of the book and perhaps my favorite character.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
It's wonderful to see a different perspective on the Arthur legend, and Velde captures Mordred's personality perfectly. The writing style is disappointingly simple, with too much dialogue and not enough description. But the story is fun and has a few unexpected turns.

From the old english vocab to the gruesome fight scenes, the book portrays Mordred's life in Camelot pretty well. There are a few ridiculous things about the story, including the fact all girls and women (including the author) seem to be fantasizing about Mordred being a lover or father-figure.

Each character in the Arthur legend is unbelievably complicated, and what made me happiest about this book is the way Velde reminds us that Mordred might be one of the only sane characters in the story. He's just a young man ahead of (or behind) his time, seeking reasonable justice while all others try too hard to stick to fantasy chivalry. With the adulterous, pompous, oblivious bourgeois of royalty he's surrounded by, it's no wonder Mordred pushes for change.

This book can't hold a candle to Malory's Le Morte D'Arthur. However it's interesting, new, and I couldn't put it down. Fans of Mordred and the King Arthur Legend will like it. I think.
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Format: Paperback
Everyone knows Mordred is King Arhtur's illegitimate son, destined to destroy his father's kingdom and bring the golden age of Camelot to its knees. Or is he? Several modern authors have re-examined the life of Mordred in a more sympathetic light, and the latest of these is THE BOOK OF MORDRED by Vivian Vande Velde. In Velde's work we get to know Mordred primarily through his interraction with three women named Alayna, Nimue, and Kiera. Arthurian readers will already be familiar with Nimue, though Velde's interpretation of the character is an interesting variation on the traditional one. Alayna is a wizard's widow who shares an uncertain relationship with Mordred, and Kiera is her daughter. These women share several adventures with Mordred, in which the author introduces a particularly nasty evil wizard and his accomplices. It is these characters that Velde handles best--when working with other well-known personages from Camelot, Velde's prose seems uncertain and her otherwise sure and deft descriptions falter. It's as though she doesn't know the rest of the cast very well. Sadly, this applies to Mordred himself. Velde's Mordred never really emerges from the shadows, and the reader may not feel like they know the character any better after reading this book than they did before. The conclusion is, up to a point, very rich and atmospheric, but again it's as though the author doesn't really know what to do with Mordred and so the end is something of an anti-climax. Still, this is by no means a bad book, and if Velde writes more on the subject later on I will certainly want to read it. On a basic level, THE BOOK OF MORDRED is very well-written, but it's author's apparent uncertainty with Mordred himself is a major flaw. Nontheless, this is fun book that does go in some new directions with the familiar tale, and one I do recommend to Arhturian or fantasy fans who are looking for something a little different.
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Format: Hardcover
I like this book because it gives a little more detail on the story behind the scenes. I mean the only things that you really see with King Arthur is him the knoghts of the round table. There is some betrayal, but you do not get to know the characters. This book is a book that comes very seldom. This book was well because of the realness of the characters and desription of them. It's so real that you can imagine in your mind what is happening. It is like you are there in the book along with the charaters. The characrter I liked the most was Kiera. I also like Nimue, but Kiera is the one I can relate to the most in the sense that she has lost some of her family when she was very young. Nimue was a bit more interesting than Alayna because you don't really see much of Alayna in the book. She is usually off in her own little world fearing magic and being caught up in romance. When Nimue disappears, you kind of wonders were she goes and you don't get anymore information about her for a while. She is practically gome from the story. I read this book in a weekend and it was so good I had to read it again a second time. That is why I rated this book a five out of five.
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