Here Lies Arthur
Author: Philip Reeve
Here’s a Dark Ages Arthurian story; no magic, no high romanticism, and no chivalrous Lancelot. The story of Arthur is told through Gwyna’s voice, a young girl who is apprenticed to Myrddin. Gwyna is disguised as a boy for safety early in the story, and as the story unfolds she switches between male and female in response to changing circumstance. She becomes the ‘Lady in the Lake’ for Myrddin, and learns how easy it is to manufacture magical stories that grow with each retelling.
It is Myrddin’s role as bard to embellish the everyday tales of reality until they become mythical and majestic – and this is such a powerful theme carried right through this story. The ill-fated romance between the lovely character of Bedwyr and Arthur’s wife Gwenhwyfar, emphasizes the price of deceit and betrayal.
There’s a harsh feel to this story - life is tough, and battles are full of mud and blood and wounds and death. This Arthur is a brutal war-lord, and it is left to his bard to make his exploits presentably ‘heroic’ for the commoners.
An interesting and thoughtful reworking of the Arthurian tale.