DNF. I really wanted to like this book. I really really tried hard. I am a significant number of pages in (over 250)...and I just can't do it. There wDNF. I really wanted to like this book. I really really tried hard. I am a significant number of pages in (over 250)...and I just can't do it. There were flaws from the beginning. Those flaws turned into irritations. Those irritations turned into glaring off-putters...and then the whole thing just stopped making any semblance of reasonable common sense. I'm going to bow out gracefully. Or maybe not so gracefully, after I compose my full review....more
"Do not refuse me because I am dark and shadowed. As I am the end, so my lover is the beginning. I encompass the whole work of creation, and all knowl"Do not refuse me because I am dark and shadowed. As I am the end, so my lover is the beginning. I encompass the whole work of creation, and all knowledge is hidden in me..."
Oh, how truly amazingly wonderfully brilliant this book series was. I have heard some mixed reviews about the last book, but save for a couple of minor complaints, I felt like this book series was as close to perfect as it gets...Full review to follow....more
In all honestly, I can see why some readers would finish Sean Pidgeon's debut novel and be left completely cold. If I had gone into this read with a pIn all honestly, I can see why some readers would finish Sean Pidgeon's debut novel and be left completely cold. If I had gone into this read with a predisposition to pull at its many dangling threads, I could easily have done so and had it fall apart in my hands. The plot itself is ambling and tangential. The editing is poor. The love story is awkward, and at times, a little insincere, and the characters themselves sometimes lack a depth of feeling that can easily disengage and disenchant the reader.
I loved this book. I honestly loved it. And I can't attribute that giddy hedonism I felt in the dark nights that I devoured it to one factor alone. I must account for them all, for their part.
'Finding Camlann', as it turns out, is a perfect storm for my affections. It has every ingredient to which I might discover its qualities and rush headfirst into its pages. And that's just what I did. I picked it up quite by coincidence, not having the slightest inclination as to its content, found myself admiring its cover (I'm a true guilty indulgent of this practice) and reading the blurb on the inside cover...and that was it for me. It had to be mine. A combination of Welsh literary history, Arthurian legend, and an archaeological discovery near the sacred ground of Stone Henge?...well, let's just say the whole thing was a given. And once I'd started reading, the more I realized the fortuity and serendipity I had touched upon in finding it on a random table at my bookstore. It's pages are so rooted in Wales (my homeland) - places, characters, traditions and stories of ancient myth, Welsh language poetry - more so than any other fiction I have read to date. What with that, and my fascination with Arthurian legend that stretches back to childhood, I was starting to wonder if the whole thing hadn't been written with me in mind!
Despite the not-so-positive points I mentioned earlier, there are certain elements to 'Finding Camlann' that truly shine. Pidgeon's real genius is his ability to distort the lines between real history, myth history, and pure fiction. This he does with pure finesse, and I think I can safely say that it is in no small part due to the years of research that he took in constructing his story. Pidgeon leaves no Arthurian re-telling or literary reference point unmentioned in the quest to discover 'the real Arthur', if such a man ever existed. Indeed, this is perhaps the most permeable question of the entire novel.
The driving force of the story itself is an archaeologist named Donald Gladstone, as he endeavors to write a book chronicling (through historical and literary reference) his obsession with establishing the truths and fictions surrounding the legendary figure of King Arthur. Unlike most of his predecessors (and fellow academics) however, Gladstone's aim is not so much to feed into the legend and mystique that surrounds the character, but to strip him down to his bare essentials, hopefully exposing historical facts about his origins and life. Despite his efforts, he is having significant difficulty accomplishing his task, given the few historical references available, and the reliability of their sources.
Enter Julia Llewellyn, a gifted Brythonic linguist working at the head quarters of the Oxford English Dictionary. After a chance meeting that coincides with the archaeological discovery of a major burial site near Stonehedge, along with the discovery of a long-lost manuscript at the Bodleian library, his chances of unraveling the origins of Arthur start to seem a little more plausible. The manuscript contains a mysterious (and absolutely beautiful, may I add) poem, apparently chronicling the final battle of a great Welsh legend. While its supposed that the poet himself (who's very identity is in question) is referring to a famous prince and warrior of the Welsh people (Owain Glyn Dwr), it seems to reference Arthur, describing his final hours in battle upon the Welsh hills before his death. What follows is a scholarly detective story, fueled by a fascination with uncovering the truth about Arthur, and the quiet development of Donald and Julia's feeling for each other.
The genius in the story lies here. While Pidgeon's many references to Arthurian source material are all accurate and thoroughly well researched, the key piece of evidence that ties the whole investigation together - the poem called 'The Song of Lailoken', written by poet Sion Cent, and suggestively pointing the reader in the direction of specific historical sources as its evidence - is in fact, a complete figment of the authors imagination. Here, the line is drawn between fact and pure fiction. There is no such poem, in the real world. And yet Pidgeon weaves his story with such mastery, composes his fabrication with such savoir-faire, that the reader is left in total belief of its authenticity. For me, being a Welsh speaker myself, the pure beauty and literary artistry of the poems composition left me spell-bound. It was truly the key that made me buy into the entire story, in the end. The characters fascination with it was not at all hard to believe, and it's what brought the story to life. For me at least.
Wonderful and heart-aching, etched with a timeless and beautiful kind of tragedy that made it feel indicatively Welsh. It made me pine for home.
This is a review that I quite willing admit to you is unfair. It's unfair because I was dumb. I admit it. I made a presumption, I d2 and a half stars.
This is a review that I quite willing admit to you is unfair. It's unfair because I was dumb. I admit it. I made a presumption, I didn't do my homework, and as I result I didn't enjoy this book as much as I probably should, or would have, had this not been the case. I understood this book to be the third in a series. Unfortunately, I took this series to be fairytale adaptations that were perhaps related, but totally separate novels. As the fairytales themselves were separate...well, I just presumed. And presumed wrongly. I should also add that I have not read the preceding two novels...so...yeah. This book made sense, but it would have made a whole lot more sense had I not skipped straight to the third book in a three book series. Yeah, I know. Dumb.
Anyway, what drew me to pick it up in the first place was a few different things. Mostly that it was a fairytale adaption (which is a great start in my book!), and also because it seemed to focus on a few different well-known stories and weave them together, which was a concept I could definitely appreciate. I got an immediate 'Red Riding Hood' vibe from the very first page (well, as well as the beautiful cover), which was immediately followed by a Robin Hood vibe once the male protagonist appeared (which was almost immediately). I then came to understand that this was an adaptation of the 'Twelve Dancing Princesses'. A heady, fairytale-ish cocktail! Yes indeed.
I was very engaged through the first 100 pages of the novel, and it took me almost that long (I'm afraid to admit) to understand that I was definitely missing something. There were characters and crutial elements of the story that should have been better explained, that weren't. It was then that I understood that they had been...just in a different book. Sigh. But yes, on the whole, I did enjoy the story. Fun, innocent, with a touch of darkness that kept me engaged. It did drag towards the end for me (probably because I didn't really form any attachments to the characters..again, probably my bad), and it took me a while to finish it. I think there were elements of the story that could have been touched upon in more detail, and the character relationships developed to a greater degree of believably. It didn't quite cross the god-forsaken line into insta-love...but I wouldn't say I BELIEVED in the relationship, either. It gingerly skirted the edges, and maybe dipped in a big toe, but then decided to back off and play it safe. That actually is how I felt about the novel as a whole. Entertaining enough, but safe. I would say it was geared towards a younger YA readership, maybe even pushing towards middle-grade.
I may read the other two at some point, just for a sense of completeness, at which point I may decide to annotate this review. :) ...more