This is again a book I picked up at the agency. I wasn't sure what to expect, I wasn't even sure whether it was fiction or non fiction but, being theThis is again a book I picked up at the agency. I wasn't sure what to expect, I wasn't even sure whether it was fiction or non fiction but, being the arthurian mythology lover that I am, I couldn't let this book pass by without at least giving it a look. Turns out it's non fiction and I did more than simply giving it a look. I read the whole thing.
This book did more than simply entertain my fascination about Merlin or Arthur. There's more in there than a mere retelling of all the myths and literature about those famous characters. It starts from there but it also deconstructs the various existing narratives about Merlin and Arthur, gives them a context and really tries to unearth the truth behind the lies.
If you go to the amazon page, you'll see that a lot of people are not too happy with Ardrey's new interpretation of history. For starters, according to Ardrey, Merlin and Arthur were Scotsmen (not Welsh, not English) and lived during the late sixth century. They were also men of the old way celtic ways and so they fought the Angles and the Saxons but they also fought the Christians and that explains the reasons why Merlin was so often portrayed as a madman or a demon and Arthur preoccupied by the quest for Graal.
Ardrey sheds light on the old ways, the way sexuality, homosexuality and even tranvestism were perceived. Women were not seen as the creatures of temptation and deception that Christianity claimed them to be. It's fascinating to see and realize how much Christianity changed everything and, most often than not, for the worse. When you look at it, the reason why Christianity was embraced by most sovereigns (including King of Francs, Clovis) is because it completely squashed individuality, marginality and replaced it with blind obediance (I'm not setting on an anti-Christian quest here, I'm just saying that at the time, you weren't really asked whether you believed in God, you were forced to). People of the old ways who favored discussions, arguments and couldn't agree on anything didn't really stand of chance. When you look at it, living conditions during the old ways were much more in accordance with nature and human nature in general.
This really struck a chord because I'm all about alternative models of society. I can't understand how we came to be as close-minded as we are and this helped me understand. I can't figure out why we ever thought that spending most of your life working and not with your loved one could ever be a good thing. Society as it is doesn't give you time to develop and grow as an individual and why should it? It's far more content with letting you become a sheep whose only source of information is TV propaganda and is unable to think for itself. Bitter, much? Just a bit... back to the book.
I understand writers who say they find more inspiration in non fiction than in fiction and more essentially history books. Whether Finding Merlin is historically accurate I don't know and quite frankly I don't care. The research and the methodology appeared solid enough for me but hey, I'm no sixth century expert. I know this book dug up some amazing characters for me, namely Languoreth, Merlin's twin sister who was also Queen of Scotland (married to a possibly gay king), played a huge part in the country's history and was contemporary to the greatest figures of the period (Arthur, Merlin, Mordred, Mungo, etc.). There's story to be told here. It tells a lot about Christianity when such a great and powerful woman is simply remembered as an adulteress.
A highly recommended read for both amateurs of arthurian myths and history in general. Ardrey has done a considerable amount of research and crosses results in various fields of study including geography, linguistics and of course, history.
Finding Arthur: The Once and Future King came out in April 2009. Finding Camelot is planned though no release date is available yet. I'm eager to read both.
I cannot begin to describe how much I enjoyed this book. It’s about 800 pages long and quite large but once I started it, I just had to keep it with mI cannot begin to describe how much I enjoyed this book. It’s about 800 pages long and quite large but once I started it, I just had to keep it with me at all times even just to read a few extra sentences between classes. This was mainly Morgan’s story though the way her mother, Igraine fell in love with Uther Pendragon, Arthur’s father is related in details. We also get detailed concerning the Lancelet-Gwenwyfar-Arthur triangle; often of Viviane’s point of view as well. I was a fresh new look at fantasy because, being written from a women’s point of view, there were no battle descriptions and such… and while I love epic stories, it’s nice to read something else once in a while. Other than that, it gave clear details concerning women’s condition at the time… opposing what Catholicism to Celtic beliefs (Avalon and the Merlin’s belief in the Lady). I’m a sucker for Arthurian legends but this book brought up historical notions that I never even suspected…; especially on a religious ground. While I am aware that the author had to bend history so that it would fit her story, the way christianism was brought to Britain and the way the Saxons settled there were nicely portrayed. I enjoyed the complexity of the plot, the way Morgan would constantly try to disentangle her emotions and what she wanted to do form what the Goddess wanted her to do. The author has done an excellent work at characterization, emphasizing the differences and similarities of those women and also the complexity of their relationships and interactions. Overall, every great men had a women at his side and she influenced him in a positive or negative way... even though Catholicism claimed that women should basically keep their mouth shuts. It gave a greater meaning to the saying “Behind every great man, there is a great woman"....more
Books are in the following order: The Summer Tree, The Wandering Fire, The Darkest Road. I was gladly surprised to find all three of these at my localBooks are in the following order: The Summer Tree, The Wandering Fire, The Darkest Road. I was gladly surprised to find all three of these at my local library and therefore read them in French. However, when I picked them up, my only experience with Kay's work was the first book in the Sarantine Mosaic... and I didn't have an unforgettable memory of it and chances were I wasn't going to pick up the second book... but having heard so much good about Kay, I was willing to give him another chance. And I'm glad I did. Even if you don't live fantasy in its tolkienish-sword-and-sorcery way, I'd tell you to give it a try. What I crave for in a book are strong realistic characters and it just so happens that, IMHO Kay excells at characterization. A bit about the plot: five students from Toronto travel the world of Fionavar which is said to be the first world created. Everything that happens in Fionavar inevitably has consequences on all the other worlds. Before reading the first book in the series, I remember coming across a specific review, the author of which claimed that he often got mixed up between the five main characters, who was who and who had said/done what... I couldn't disagree more. Jennifer, Kevin, Paul, Kimberly and Dave are completly different from one another and each one has a role to play in the world of Fionavar and like in real life, that role isn't always clearly defined or very glamorous for that matter. ...more