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Here Lies Arthur

3.63  ·  Rating details ·  2,591 ratings  ·  386 reviews
Gwyna is just a small girl, a mouse, when she is bound in service to Myrddin the bard - a traveller and spinner of tales. But Myrdin transfroms her - into a lady goddess, a boy warrior, and a spy. Without Gwyna, Myrddin will not be able to work the most glorious transformation of all - and turn the leader of a raggle-tagglear-band into King Arthur, the greatest hero of all ...more
Hardcover, 297 pages
Published April 2nd 2007 by Scholastic Children’s Books
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Shelsy Morillo Its a nice story, turns around the perception of Arthur's story. I would totally recommend it for an 11 year old :)…moreIts a nice story, turns around the perception of Arthur's story. I would totally recommend it for an 11 year old :)(less)

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Average rating 3.63  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,591 ratings  ·  386 reviews

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Jan 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: real, past, teen
There are eleventy billion books out there based on the King Arthur story, but this is one of the best I've read. It's one of the "realistic" ones: Arthur isn't a king or a hero; he's a thug who wants to take as much as he can from the other thugs of post-Roman Britain and Merlin is a smooth-talking PR man who's trying to convince everyone Arthur is the one who will save them from the Saxons. The author imagines believable origins for all the stories that have been passed down as glorious myths, ...more
Jul 22, 2008 rated it really liked it
Compelling read. With its super-short chapters, I found it incredibly difficult to put it down. I love books where the title and flap copy make the book appear to be about one thing but then, once you get into it, you realize that there is a much larger theme. In this case, the book appears to be about...well...the man who would be King Arthur. And Merlin, Lancelot, etc.

But it's so much bigger than that. Ultimately, the book is about the power of story to change history and change lives; people
A surprisingly good retelling of the King Arthur legend as told by a fictional apprentice of Merlin that, despite the author saying isn't meant as a historical novel, does feel like one nonetheless. But a grim and dark one, with zero romanticism and where the Arthur we knew from the medieval epics isn't exactly a man with an unpolluted reputation yet still worthy of bard songs.

I liked the non-magical reworking of the plot as well as the explanation through clever trickery of how elements such a
Aug 26, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An excellent, gritty take on the Arthurian legend, basically a look at the possible reality vs the legend. It reminded me very much of The Crystal Cave or one of Rosemary Sutcliffe's books. A quick, interesting read, there's a nice author's note at the end as well. ...more
Amelia, free market Puritan
3.5 stars

I read this book over two years ago, so it's definitely been awhile. What made me remember Here Lies Arthur was a conversation I overheard yesterday in which a mother was looking for more Arthurian tales to recommend to her 13-year-old, who "just loved 'The Mists of Avalon.'" When my eyes uncrossed themselves at the madness of a 13-year-old reading that piece of crap clearly adult novel or watching the miniseries (which I did - accidentally - at 13 and was incredibly disturbed/scarred b
Philip Reeve's Here Lies Arthur is not my favourite retelling of the Arthurian story -- it's probably not even in the top ten -- but it is a fun version, and it's a quick and easy read. It's historical, rather than fantastical, and in the guts and gore school rather than any kind of romance. It references a lot of Arthurian legends, sometimes from several varying sources, with the spin that Arthur was a brute and Merlin his clever PR guy, with the help of some trickery. It feels a bit cursory at ...more
Feb 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: teen, fantasy
A postmodern take on the Arthurian legends that brilliantly deconstructs these timeless myths through the eyes of a gender-bending narrator -- could there be a more perfect retelling of these stories for little ole postmodern-feminist me? Reeve's wonderful book cleverly demonstrates how the lives of ordinary, imperfect people become dazzling, entrancing myths -- and the high price that is paid to create them. In this version, Arthur is no gentle Christian king but rather is the brutish leader of ...more
Jun 17, 2008 rated it really liked it
Writers frequently play with the legendary story and Reeve's version is about the how the legend might have come to be. He gives us an Arthur who isn't a very nice guy and a Merlin who was the orginal spin doctor - creating the stories that people wanted to hear about a king they yearned to believe in. The narrator, a scorned and abused peasant girl, tells an unflinching story of what life was really like and perhaps why the stories took on a life of their own. An intriguing take on the familiar ...more
May 17, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
Here Lies Arthur by Philip Reeve- This novel is a different story about the King Arthur legend.

The story follows a girl named Gwyna, who is running away from her home, which is in flames. During her escape she meets a man named Myrddin (who is Merlin) who takes pity on her and allows her a place to stay for a while. However, Myrddin has another use for little Gwyna, she becomes the Lady of the Lake and is the one who gives Arthur his sword Caliburn (Excalibur). After Gwyna gives the sword to Art
Michael Cattigan
Oct 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
For some reason, I cannot read this title without intuitively reading it in Latin hic iacit Arcturus.

I attended a literacy conference this week where Philip Reeve was - for wont of a better phrase - the keynote speaker and I was lent this book as an introduction to his work as - to my total shame - I've never read any! I've been aware of Mortal Engines and intending to read it - being a definite steampunk fan - but something's always got in my way!

So... onto hic iacit Arctururs which is obvious
Jun 14, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
What a disappointment. I expected to like this book--the cover is awesome, the summary on the back sounded intriguing, and it seems like most people on here thought it was pretty great.

This book about King Arthur makes him into a selfish, unlikable thug and murderer. His character is so much worse than I can describe. I disliked him from the very first chapter, and I wondered how the author was possibly going to spin him into someone I would care about. In fact, the author just made him more hor
Michael of Solace
I really don't know. This was a weird, weird book. I'm just surprised I was able to finish it. ...more
Arielle M.
Jun 29, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: arthurian-legend
It was an interesting take on the legends, but I felt that it didn't stay true to the spirit of the old stories. That ruined it for me. It stripped away the magic, and instead of feeling like a historical take, it felt (IMO) too pessimistic for me to like it.

I don't recommend this to lovers of the legends.
Jun 01, 2013 rated it it was ok
Ultimately, I did not care for this book.

Unlike other readers, I wasn't put off by how Reeve depicted a less than heroic King Arthur. This is not a new concept... Arguably it was done as early as the 12th century in Chretien de Troyes works! I bring this up not to be a literary snob, but to dispel the idea that the Arthurian legend is sacrosanct. It never has been. Add in recent high profile movies and tv shows that try to deconstruct this myth and arguably Reeve is part of a trend.

What does he
[T]hey weren't thinking of the Arthur I'd known. It was Myrddin's Arthur they wanted back, the story-Arthur, the wisest and fairest and best king they had ever heard of. You can't blame people for wanting to believe there'd been a man like that once, and might be again.
Actually amazed. Reeve is one of my favourite authors so I knew it'd be good, but I wasn't expecting to enjoy this so much! More historical fiction than fantasy, Reeve has entwined historical research with a splash of drama gr
Katy Noyes
May 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Superb imagined retelling of Arthur and Merlin. Convincing historical details.

Reeve imagines here how the myths may have come about, and lets us in on what really may have happened to build up Arthur into the legendary figure he became.

A young girl, Gwyna, escapes the burning of her village, and through chance, meets Arthur's magician and bard, Myrddin, who needs her to set up an event that will begin to cement his lord's status as saviour of Britain. Gwyna must then become a boy to escape dete
Miss Clark
Fans of the Arthurian legends should enjoy this fresh revisioning. Personally, I think his "Larklight" series is far better.

Almost three stars. A reinvention of the Arthurian myths, with a much more "authentic" feel than most, esp. the Roman and Welsh touches.

Here, Arthur was no hero, no great king. Nothing more than a bully and a tyrant, surrounded by men just as petty and small - minded as himself. It was Myrrddin, the bard, whose stories gave Arthur power and prestige. It was the idea of some
Apr 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing
You can find almost every kind of fantasy within the Arthurian tradition, such as classic fantasy (The Once and Future King), feminist fantasy (The Mists of Avalon), and semi-historical fantasy (The Crystal Cave). "Here Lies Arthur", perhaps, represents something new: anti-fantasy. Despite the pretty unicorn sticker affixed to my copy's spine by the Oakland Public Library, "Here Lies Arthur" contains not a single fantastic event. Reeves bursts just about every bubble in the Arthurian soap. Merli ...more
Dec 11, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
We’ve all heard the story of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. A young Arthur learns of his kingly destiny by pulling the sword from the stone. He is a fair and much loved ruler who weds the beautiful Guinevere. We also know of Guinevere’s betrayal and her deep love for Lancelot.

It’s a fabulous story but what if that’s all it is? Maybe it’s not the true story at all. Perhaps the real story is much grittier and far less polished.

Here Lies Arthur tells of an alternative Arthur and
Apr 27, 2009 rated it really liked it
“They’re only stories,” he would say, “What do stories matter?” But he wasn’t stupid. He knew as well as Myrddin that in the end stories are all that matter.
--Here Lies Arthur

“The heroes, the Trows--the stories that bind us, Halli. The stories we live by, that dictate what we do and where we go. The stories that give us our names, our identities, the places we belong, the people we hate.”
--Heroes of the Valley

Story seems to be the theme of my reading lately (see here for more), and these two boo
Brendan Balkema
May 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Here Lies Arthur is very creative and a great read. This book is about a little girl named Gwyna. She was a servant for many years of her life. That changed when King Arthur and his army burned down the town that Gwyna had been living in. She was all alone. Until Arthur’s bard Myrddin came and asked for her help. Myrddin wanted Gwyn to be the Lady of the Lake so there was a believable story as to how Arthur got his “magical” sword. Gwyna became the Lady of the Lake and handed Arthur his new swor ...more
Jun 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
Gwyna is 10 or 11 and a servant/slave girl at a time when Arthur is roaming the countryside looting and doing Mafia like stuff in order to rule his bit of England. Meriddyn is his story teller who manages to weave magic out of the tawdry. When all 3 meet up then you get the "truth" about Arthur and Merlin and not all the hoop-la that we read nowadays.

A new take on the Pendragon myths.

Spoiler alert.

Arthur is a psycho and a jerk.
Meriddyn is a con man.
Everyone else is just in it for the loot and th
When I was about 10 to 12, I went through a period of Arthuriana obsession. I read everything I could get my hands on, from Mallory and White to Bradley and whatever random Time Life illustrated volumes my school library had on the shelves. If I had stumbled across this book, I would have devoured it.

As an adult, I am less sure that the world needs yet another take on the Matter of Britain or that this particular grimdark version adds much to the field. But somewhere out there, there is another
Jane Williams
Sep 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fun read, with a different perspective from many. We all know the story of Arthur got "embellished" over the ages - this works on the theory that those embellishments got built in right from the start. Arthur is, frankly, a thug. But Merlin the storyteller thinks that to drive out the Saxons, the Romano-British need a hero they can unite behind, and if he picks one (preferably without too much in the way of brains), and tells enough stories about him that make him out to be something much grea ...more
I had thought this would be suitable for younger (primary school) readers, but it's not really so. It's an interesting version of the King Arthur legends - in present day language and words used by a friend who recommended this book - it's basically about fake news and how it could have spread during medieval times. ...more
Apr 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a book about the power of stories, I highly recommend.
This was such an original and refreshing story that I really enjoyed. The plot is quite slow but Gwyna is such an interesting character that I did not mind in the slightest, I was fascinated by her transformations and the things that she saw.
I love the critique on the difference between men and women and also the way that the story changes the Arthurian legend that has been told so many times. It was a really clever twist on the sto
Brandy Painter
3.5 stars really

Originally posted here.

I have been in an Arthurian sort of mood this week. If you should ever find yourself in an Arthurian sort of mood then Here Lies Arthur by Philip Reeve is one I would definitely recommend. Be warned that this is one of those stories that tries to place Arthur in his actual historical context. This not Le Morte d'Arthur. Not anywhere close, and that is actually my favorite thing about it. I like it when an author tries to separate the man from the myth, and
Eva Mitnick
May 24, 2009 rated it really liked it
I don’t know what took me so long to get to this book, seeing as how I’m a huge fan of both Reeve’s Immortal Engines quartet and practically anything even remotely Arthurian (including books that simply take place in the cold and mucky England of yore – very long-ago yore).

Here Lies Arthur was well worth the wait. After Myrddin the bard rescues young Gwyna from the aftermath of one of war-band leader Arthur’s slash-and-burn raids, she is transformed from a slave who just tried to get through eac
Lily Walter
Feb 02, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I so wanted to love this book, but I think it fell short of what I had expected.
The best part of this book was Philip Reeve's writing. The way he shapes his words into stories that I can so clearly see play out in my mind, I felt like I was right there in the woods with Gwyn and out on the battlefield next to Arthur. It was an incredible feeling.
Although it didn't end as badly as it could, it felt like a tragedy. I know it was the intention of the story, but it showed the hard truth of humanit
Dec 30, 2010 rated it really liked it
I got this book as an uncorrected proof through the Amazon Vine program. This was a really good book. It is a very unique take on the tale of Arthur and his "knights".

This book focuses around the life of Gwyna. When her village is burned down by Arthur and his warband she is pulled aside by Myrddin and asked to aid him in a ruse as the Lady of the Lake after Myrddin sees Gwyna swimming down the river from her village. Myrddin decides to keep Gwyna around after the ruse is accomplished and from t
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Philip Reeve was born and raised in Brighton, where he worked in a bookshop for a number of years while also co-writing, producing and directing a number of no-budget theatre projects.

Philip then began illustrating and has since provided cartoons for around forty children's books, including the best-selling Horrible Histories, Murderous Maths and Dead Famous series.

Railhead, published by Oxford Un

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