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by Stephen R. Lawhead
Published by Crossway Books, 1987
Amazon.com: paperback, audiobook
Amazon.ca: paperback, audiobook
Recommended by: Ross Pavlac
This is the first book in Lawhead's Pendragon Cycle series. In it, he weaves together the legend of Atlantis, the stories about King Arthur, and bits and pieces of British folklore to create a tale of the events leading up to the reign of Arthur, which Lawhead dates to the end of the Roman occupation of Britain.
There are two story lines: one following Charis, a princess from Atlantis, and the other following Taliesin, the adopted son of a Welsh king. Lawhead takes his time before bringing the two characters together (so long, in fact, that I began to wonder whether he ever would bring them together), but they meet at last, and the stage is set for the next book in the cycle.
Lawhead portrays a power struggle between the religion of the Druids, the sun worship of the Atlanteans, Mithraism, and a new religion, come from the distant East: the worship of Jesu, called Christus by the Romans. But he also portrays at least some druids recognising Jesu as the son of "the Good God."This accomodation between Christianity and druid religion is probably dramatically necessary if Merlin is to be portrayed as a druid. After all, Arthur is usually portrayed as a devout Christian, and it would hardly do to have his chief advisor as a pagan priest. However, the positive attitude towards druid practices conflicts with the Old Testament condemnation of paganism.
In the edition I read, there are a few anachronisms, such as potatoes being part of the British diet over a thousand years before they were brought back from the New World. I understand that these have been fixed in later editions. Greg Slade (January, 2004)
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