Monday, March 14, 2011

Middle Grade Monday: The Shards of Excalibur

The Shards of Excalibur: Song of the Sword, by Edward Willett

Publisher: Lobster Press
Pages: 336 (Paperback)
Reading Level: 12 and up
Enjoyment Level: Medium

This one came from the publisher as an ARC, though I’m just getting the review up now. I’m not terribly late with it, but…

From the publisher:

Ariane Forsythe’s life is in turmoil. Two years ago, her mother disappeared. She bounced from foster home to foster home until her aunt finally took her in. An outsider at her new school, Ariane quickly becomes the target of group of girls that is determined to make her miserable. And to top it all off, she is having frightening premonitions, and they are becoming more intense. The moment water touches her skin, she sees visions of a lake, a lady, and a sword.

Ariane learns that she is heir to the Lady’s power, and soon the stories she thought were legend become a real life nightmare. She and her unexpected companion, Wally Knight, are charged with finding the scattered shards of Excalibur before Merlin can get his hands on them. The infamous magician, known in this world as software tycoon Rex Major, is trying to recover the pieces of Arthur’s sword so he can reforge it and restore his limitless power. Suddenly, Ariane’s life seems to have a purpose and a clear direction – but how can a troubled teen and her brainy sidekick outwit the ancient, ruthless sorcerer?

I’m not particularly fond of Arthurian tales, as a rule. Arthur is done too often and there aren’t that many new ways to look at him – and there’s very little historical data in the first place. I surprised myself by choosing this book from the publisher, but it sounded interesting and I thought I’d give it a shot.

Song of the Sword is not a fast read. The beginning is pretty slow, and I felt like there were more explanations than were necessary. They dragged the pace a little and kept me from really getting into the plot and the characters. I definitely wished for something more interesting going on for the first part. I think it would have been great if the first four to five chapters had been condensed into one.

I did like the main character, Ariane, and her “sidekick” Wally. They were both developed well, and they felt well-rounded. Wally is particularly interesting as the nerdy kid who attaches himself to Ariane. There’s a nice dark side to him that comes out every once in a while, and it added depth to what was happening.

And the story got interesting about halfway through. Once the action actually got started, I was invested, and wanted to know what would happen. The tension turned on and was only interrupted again once by an explanation of something. Then, I was pleasantly surprised when the main character was thwarted again near the end, making the last bits unpredictable.

It was a different enough take on the Arthurian legend that it didn’t feel as tired as some. I don’t know that I would recommend this to reluctant readers, but it might make a good read-aloud story for classrooms.

Until next time, go read something!

~ Vilate

No comments:

Post a Comment