Friday, August 17, 2012


Earlier this year I read Stephen Lawhead's five-part series called the "Pendragon Cycle", his telling of the legend of the rise and reign of King Arthur. The Cycle consisted of the books entitled: Taliesin, Merlin, Arthur, Pendragon, and Grail. When we last stood among Arthur's court, he had been gravely wounded, nicked by a dagger coated with a most deadly poison. One moment he was with us, the dream of his enchanted kingdom having just taken root, and the next he was no more. Yet the legends of old presage that Arthur will yet rise again. ... Hic jacet Arthurius rex quondam, rex futurus ...

In Lawhead's book Avalon (The Return of King Arthur), the story of the Pendragon Cycle is given another chapter in modern day Britain. Thomas Waring, a deeply entrenched politico, is the majority party's leader and the Prime Minister of the land. His main agenda is a crusade to officially end the British monarchy once and for all. Not only does he consider this a shameful waste of the country's limited resources, but the royals have consistently shamed their people with their tabloid lifestyles. Waring's primary reason for his drive to end the monarchy is really his goal to consolidate his power and take control as the country's first president. A path seemingly made all the easier when King Edward, the seated king, apparently commits suicide from his estate in Portugal.

Through a series of fateful occurrences, the strange and eccentric M. Embries, takes particular interest in the young caretaker of a Scottish manor, James Arthur Stuart. Mr. Stuart learns that he is actually the rightful king. Ultimately, he accepts his calling to save the monarchy and rally his nation. Yet nothing is simple in this task. The Prime Minister is using the political machine to smear the King and the nation is facing the deadline of a upcoming referendum to end the monarchy once and for all. Even behind all of this, dark forces from long ago still have this new Arthur firmly locked in their sites.

While not a bad read by any means, it lacks the stately beauty, carefully and intricately crafted narrative, and masterful character development of any of the books of the Pendragon Cycle. Still, I enjoyed my time with this book.