Mo's Reviews > The Wicked Day

The Wicked Day by Mary Stewart
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Jun 21, 11

bookshelves: historical-fiction, speculativefiction, medieval-europe
Read in June, 2011

** spoiler alert ** I was really looking forward to this book because I enjoyed the Merlin trilogy and Mordred is a character I generally like better than Merlin. As the rating shows, I was much disappointed. Stewart is really not good with female characters - Morgause is a caricature so ridiculous that her passages (which are numerous as she's a fairly major character) repeatedly threw me out of the narrative. She's like a villain from a B-movie: shallow, incompetent, stupid, why is this person Merlin's worst enemy again? Morgan is the same except less prominent; Mordred isn't villainous but equally devoid of personality. It is extremely unsatisfying that all the high drama of the legend, with the incest and the parricide and the kingdoms at stake, boiled down to pure misunderstanding and coincidence in this version. I guess the purpose was to not make Mordred look bad, but instead he and Arthur just look silly. Why don't you guys just NOT stab each other?! No one's making you!

I was also annoyed at some of the continuity problems: Merlin prophesied in an earlier book that Morgause's four sons by Lot would become Arthur's most loyal companions (they did not) and also foresaw the quest for the Grail (which never appeared or was referred to again). Those are both pretty cool prophecies so I was bummed that they didn't come into the narrative. Finally, the third person POV is a bit shaky, transitioning less-than-smoothly from character to character. Distracting.
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