Guy talking to a library lionIt’s really amazing how many good books have been written using the Arthurian legends as their base material. And here’s another one. This one keeps things fresh by mixing the Arthur stuff up with Faerie and the eternal Seelie vs. Unseelie court intrigue. Along with that leavening, Bear’s book also brings the story to the current day and puts part of it on the streets of New York City.

It took me a few pages to get used to Bear’s slightly heightened style. She uses lots of adjectives (usually color-related) and novel similes that made sentences stick and require rereading until I got used to the style and was able to trust that she really did write the surprising sentence I thought I read. This makes it sound as if the book is full of awkward sentences, but they read so smoothly (once you stop trying to second guess them) that they belie their complex vocabulary. I read a few passages aloud to B and was surprised each time at how smooth and rhythmical they were when spoken. Lovely.

I really liked how all the characters felt like they were in over their heads, but went ahead and did the best they could under the circumstances. It would be easy in a story like this for events to seem arbitrary, but Bear managed to make everything that happens clearly result from a decision that some character plausibly thought was a sensible course of action.

I only wish we’d gotten to see a lot more of her Merlin.