Shiloh's Reviews > Taliesin

Taliesin by Stephen R. Lawhead
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's review
Dec 20, 2011

did not like it
bookshelves: fantasy, medieval, mythology, dissertation
Read from December 20 to 29, 2011

Lawhead's Pendragon cycle gets off to a rocky start with Taliesin. Perhaps it's that I set the bar too high, expecting great things from such a renowned author, or perhaps it's that I'm reading the cycle for my dissertation and hence got overly critical, but either way, the book suffers from poor writing, poor plotting, and a few major historical inaccuracies that ruined it for me.

The writing: passive voice abounds. The dialogue is stilted. The characters are two-dimensional and hardly have any development at all. And when the romance gets started, the pathos is stifling.

The plotting: this whole book could have been done in half the space. Not much actually happens, and there is a ton of padding. Even with two concurrent storylines running for the first half of the book, nothing much actually happens. I spend most of the book wondering why any of the stuff Lawhead was telling us about was in any way important.

And the historical inaccuracies: unless some sort of time-travel occurs that I missed, Lawhead has Atlantis sink in the 400s AD, right around the time the Romans are withdrawing from Britain. Considering that the legendary Atlantis sank closer to 9600 BC, this completely ruined a huge chunk of the book for me. The British people believe that the Atlanteans are faery folk, and if that had turned out to somehow be the case--if they'd hung out for a few thousand years before the British ran across them--that would have been different. But they're mortal, and the legendary sinking is stuck right in the middle of recorded history. Also, Taliesin takes to Christianity entirely too quickly and with too much verve. Yes, the British people were Christian before the Anglo-Saxons came in, but in the space of a conversation with God (!!) during a spirit-walk (which, tellingly, Taliesin swears never to do again after converting), Taliesin is a full-blown Christian who refers to the pagans around him as heretics, blasphemers, and unlearned people--as if he wasn't a pagan twelve minutes before.

Overall, this book was a huge disappointment. Considering all the hype around Lawhead (I've heard he's right up there with Marion Zimmer Bradley for authoritativeness in modern Arthurian fantasy), I expected much more.
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12/26/2011 page 258
09/16/2016 marked as: read
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