I like Arthurian stories. I don't read a lot of fantasy but anything with Merlin or Arthur will capture my interest. This book caught my interest simply for that reason.
The story shakes up the traditional story by rearranging a few of the relationships and ages of familiar characters. The story is written from the point of view of an outsider, Derfel, who becomes friends with Arthur over time. Much of the story is focused on the politics and wars that probably existed in real life. Magic plays a part but is never the main focus and the reader is left with the idea that the idea of magic is just a manipulation.
As much as I liked the writing style and story premise, I couldn't finish the book. The story is violent and not just a little violent, but very violent. Not a page goes by without someone getting hacked to death, maimed, tortured, spit upon, or worse. (For some strange reason, spitting is considered a great insult or form of magical protection and the author has everyone doing it all the time).
This month has been stressful and the last thing I need is to spend my time reading something depressing and awful. The book went back to the library. True fans of anything Arthurian may enjoy this book, which is the first of a series.
Book Rating: 3 Stars (if you can get past the violence)