From Publishers Weekly
Fearing for the life of his nephew, eight-year-old Arthur Pendragon, after an assassination attempt in their beloved Camulod, Caius Merlyn Brittanicus uproots the boy and sails with an intimate group of friends and warriors to Ravenglass, seeking sanctuary from King Derek. Though Ravenglass is supposed to be a peaceful port, danger continues to threaten and it is only through the quick thinking of the sharp-tongued, knife-wielding sorceress Shelagh that catastrophe and slaughter are averted. Derek, who now realizes the value of the allegiances Merlyn's party bring to his land, offers the Camulodians the use of an abandoned Roman fort that is easily defensible. The bulk of the novel involves the growth of Arthur from boyhood to adolescence at the fort. There he is taught the arts of being a soldier and a ruler, and magnificent training swords are forged in Excalibur's pattern from the metals of the Skystone. While danger still lurks around every corner, this is a peaceful time for Britain, so this installment of the saga (The Saxon Shore, etc.) focuses primarily on the military skills Arthur masters, as well as on the building and refurbishing of an old Roman fort. Whyte has again written a historical fiction filled with vibrant detail. Young Arthur is less absorbing a character than many of the others presented (being seemingly too saintly and prescient for his or any other world), but readers will revel in the impressively researched facts and in how Whyte makes the period come alive.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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In the fifth installment of the Camulod Chronicles, Caius Merlyn Britannicus has fled Camulod after a failed assassination attempt on young Arthur. Arriving in the neutral port of Ravenglass, Merlyn discovers that the king is Derek, the man who killed Uther Pendragon, Arthur's father, and raped Ygraine, his mother. He wisely suppresses his emotions and bargains for the use of an abandoned Roman fort located in the hills above the town. To ensure the group's safety, and to keep Arthur's presence secret, Merlyn and his young charge publicly board a ship leaving the harbor, then trek back overland to the fort, where "Cay" and his apprentice are welcome. Over the next few years, Arthur begins to grow into the man who will become the legend and one day wield the sword smelted out of skystone just for him: Excalibur. Until then, Cay must keep him alive and hidden from his enemies. Not as bloody as some of its predecessors in this series, Whyte's latest continues to bring the myth convincingly to life. Melanie Duncan
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