Gill's Reviews > The Wicked Day

The Wicked Day by Mary Stewart
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Apr 09, 12

bookshelves: 2012, other-times
Read from April 03 to 08, 2012

I did not read this as a historical treatise nor do I want to dwell on the academic veracity of the story.
At the end of the book there is a section "The Legend" which summarises the relevant parts of Geoffrey of Monmouth's 12th century 'History of the Kings of Britain' & Malory's 'Le Morte d'Arthur' of the 15th century. The subsequent author's note and the table of known historical dates makes clear the viewpoint of the author from which this tail-note to her Merlin trilogy was written.

I found it strange how polarised the reviews of this book are - from the large number who love it and found it a fulfilling and moving story, to the large number who were bored by it and thoroughly disliked the central character painted by Mary Stewart. From my star rating you can see I fall squarely in the first camp.
I read this book over a very few days, neglecting essential jobs, and reading in every spare moment I could muster. I have read at least one of the trilogy, perhaps all of them over the years, but none evoked such strong emotional responses nor lodged themselves so firmly in my memory as this one has.

I feel Stewart has used the known historical background, and woven from it her own legend of a plausible Mordred with whom I can entirely empathise. Geoffrey of Monmouth's postscript to the life of Mordred in terms of Constantine's subsequent actions, for me reinforces the tragic nature of the whole, the way the foreseen doom would twist the intentions of good men. Nimüe's last words to Arthur, given with the authoritative ring of Merlin's voice, echo on for me, as a warning we would all do well to heed.
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