Best-selling author Jane Yolen retells the Arthurian legend in her novel Sword of the Rightful King. Young Arthur is the newly crowned king, but there are many who still question his right to rule, most notably the North Witch, Morgause. Her four sons are heading to court and rumor has it that there is an assassin among them. Additionally, Merlinnus finds a boy who is not what he seems and takes him on as apprentice.
Merlinnus has a plan to solidify Arthurís rule. With magic, he places a sword in a slab of marble. Whoever is able to draw the sword is the rightful king of all Britain. After all have tried, Arthur will pull the sword free, with the magical help of Merlinnus. But the North Witch is using her own spells to try and prevent him.
Yolenís writing has a flowing and easy style that moves the story at a quick pace. Her characters are interesting and very believable. Arthur is very likeable, a good man, but definitely having faults. He is able to gain followers through his commanding personality, unlike Morgause who must use spells to bewitch. His relationship with Merlinnus is very much like a father and son.
Gawen, the young boy Merlinnus takes on, add mystery to the plot. Right from the beginning we know he is not exactly as he portrays himself. By his actions and words we kniw he holds a grudge against Gawaine. He is won over by Arthurís genuine personality and when his surpirsing true identity is revealed he is able to act upon that loyalty.
Sword of the Rightful King: A Novel of King Arthur is a wonderfully unique retelling of the familiar Arthurian legend. Although it seems a little unromantic in that Arhtur is not detined to rule, but rather chosen by Merlinnus, Yolen has enough storytelling mastery to keep the readerís attention. Up unitl I read this book, I had only known Yolen as a childrenís author. Her books Owl Moon and How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? are frequent bedtime stories in our house. I look forward to reading more of her novels.
The Sword of the Rightful King is available at Amazon.com
I borrowed Sword of the Rightful King from the library