For a delve into Arthurian legend from the side of Elaine the seer, for a form-shifting read that excels at mirroring the readers’ experience with the characters’, for a dark yet hopeful spin
Everyone knows the legend. Of Arthur, destined to be a king. Of the beautiful Guinevere, who will betray him with his most loyal knight, Lancelot. Of the bitter sorceress, Morgana, who will turn against them all. But Elaine alone carries the burden of knowing what is to come–for Elaine of Shalott is cursed to see the future.
On the mystical isle of Avalon, Elaine runs free and learns of the ancient prophecies surrounding her and her friends–countless possibilities, almost all of them tragic.
When their future comes to claim them, Elaine, Guinevere, Lancelot, and Morgana accompany Arthur to take his throne in stifling Camelot, where magic is outlawed, the rules of society chain them, and enemies are everywhere. Yet the most dangerous threats may come from within their own circle.
As visions are fulfilled and an inevitable fate closes in, Elaine must decide how far she will go to change fate–and what she is willing to sacrifice along the way.
The first thing I’ll say is that I have NO IDEA who Elaine is outside of this story. I have no other context to compare her to, so I really can’t speak to that aspect of the experience. If you’re familiar with the lore already from other media, I have no idea how this might align with the way it’s been told elsewhere. That said, I think the way it was told here was quite compelling.
My absolute favorite aspect of this book (besides the plot itself) is the way my experience reading it mirrored Elaine’s experience as a seer so well. Past, present, and future all blend together with timeline and perspective shifting often, and not always with clear delineations. If this might drive you crazy, then be forewarned, but I promise it enhanced the book, not detracted. Elaine’s glimpses of the future bleed in to every action of the present and affect her memories of the past. How can you act on love when you literally KNOW it will lead to heartbreak of the most dire kind?
The mood throughout is grim and dark, and the characters pretty much face endless impossible scenarios — and yet, due to Elaine’s abilities, they know they must succeed SOMEHOW, even if they truly have no idea how (yet). It’s a bit of a mind trip.
Moragana is an absolutely incredible character and I’ll probably read more about her later on. She’s the epitome of magic out of all the characters, and the feats they accomplish together are truly incredible. I was so sucked into the story every step of the way, and felt like I was there beside the characters seeing the monsters of Lyonnesse, and the sneer on Margause’s face, and the wild bonfire nights on Avalon.
Definitely a slower read, and all the better for it. More often than not during the day, I found my mind wandering back to think about what I had read so far and how the story might next move forward. I don’t often have the chance to do that because I usually finish books in a day or two. This one took a week or two because it allows you to read more slowly, to meander, to consider. Perhaps that, more than anything, is why I felt so clearly attached to the characters and the situations.
So yes. This is definitely worth a read.