Reviews provided by Syndetics
Publishers Weekly Review
"In the first volume of the Arthur Trilogy, the author inventively reworks the legend of the Round Table through the diary of 13-year-old Arthur, living in an English manor in the 12th century," said PW in a starred review. "Readers will be itching for the sequel." Ages 10-up. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
School Library Journal Review
Gr 7 Up-At the turn of the 13th century, a boy named Arthur receives a magical stone from the mysterious Merlin that shows him scenes from the life and times of the earlier legendary king. The stories relate loosely to his own development, as the boy grows from page to knight, from innocence to wisdom, and becomes enmeshed in the societal upheavals of his times and the ill-fated Fourth Crusade. © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Gr. 4-8. Thirteen-year-old Arthur fervently hopes that his father wants him to become a squire, not a "schoolman," though his prowess with sword and lance is eclipsed by his skill with quill and ink. His friend Merlin gives the boy a strange secret stone; Arthur finds that he can look into the polished obsidian and see visions of another Arthur, whose life rather parallels his own. Narrated by Arthur, the novel unfolds in short, lucid chapters, vividly describing events, personalities, and life on a medieval manor. Crossley-Holland achieves a great deal here, from the fresh, engaging voice of Arthur to the ongoing mystery of how his life relates to the story in the stone that emerges in a series of vignettes. Knowledge of Arthurian legend heightens the sense of layered meanings; however, untutored readers will not be lost, but rather richer for discovering the tale here. Few historical novels achieve such a convincing sense of the medieval ages, and few first-person novels can boast such a convincing and sympathetic young narrator. The ending will leave readers eager for the next in this trilogy. As the book closes, Arthur is to become a squire and accompany his father on a Crusade to Jerusalem. Merlin says, "You'll take your stone with you." Carolyn Phelan
Horn Book Review
(Intermediate, Middle School) High on a hill overlooking the Welsh border, Merlin tells the thirteen-year-old narrator, ÒOnce, there was a king with your name.... And he will be.Ó The old wizardÕs words are both legend and prophecy. This new Arthur, too, lives in uncertain times: the turn of the thirteenth century, when Welsh raiders have replaced Saxon invaders and the contested succession is from Richard the Lion-Hearted to his brother John. The Seeing Stone that Merlin gives the narrator enables him to relive incidents leading to King ArthurÕs drawing sword from stone. Meanwhile, heÕs engaged in life on the manor of his supposed father, Sir John de Caldicot. The interplay between vividly depicted medieval life and heroic legend illuminate both: the legendÕs idealism lends dignity and universality to the difficult realities of thirteenth-century life, while the earthy humanity of King JohnÕs subjects adds dimension to legendary characters enduring similar trials. The many parallels make a Merlin of the reader: it can be predicted that Arthur will triumph, and meet his doom, in the projected sequels, but how exactly will it work out? The continuing resonance of Arthurian legend, the inspired dual plot, an elegantly lucid narrative style plus a gift for lively dialogueÑall add up to a compelling story. The sequels will be avidly anticipated. j.r.l. From HORN BOOK, (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Book Review
In Great Britain, this first volume in a projected Arthurian trilogy was shortlisted for the Whitbread Award, the Guardian Children's Book Prize, and won the Bronze medal, Smarties Prize. On the level of medieval fantasy, it works very well indeed. The 13-year-old Arthur of this tale lives in the year 1199, the time of Richard Coeur de Lion, at Caldicot, and someone named Merlin also lives within the castle grounds. Merlin has given Arthur a piece of obsidian in which Arthur scries glimpses of another history: of Uther and Gorlois, of Sir Kay and a sword, and of a boy who shares his name and his countenance. He does not know these stories, but he is obsessed with reading and writing, with being named a squire, and with why his older brother hates him so. Arthur is a most engaging companion and a plenitude of historical facts about life in 12th-century England is imparted, but not a whole lot happens. At the end of this doorstopper all we know is that Arthur is not who he seems, nor is Merlin, and that his quest is about to begin. One cannot help but compare it to T.H. White's Once and Future King, and one might be far more inclined to put that in the hands of youngsters eager for legend. (Fiction. 11-15) $100,000 ad/promo