This old legend retold by a master storyteller is woven with great respect, giving the well-known characters added depth and new life. Yolen captures the reader from the very beginning, luring one in without letting go until the spellbinding conclusion. It is a welcome addition to the Arthurian legend — a true standout! Recommended By Richard C., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
The newly crowned King Arthur is unsure of himself; worse, the people are unsure of him. Too many people want the throne, and treachery is everywhere. Merlin must do something before the king is betrayed, or murdered, or worst of all gets married. So Merlin magically places a sword into a slab of rock, lets it be known that whosoever removes the blade will rule all of England, and invites any man who would dare, to try to pull out the sword.
After a bit of showmanship, Arthur will draw the blade (with a little magical help, of course), and the people will rally around the young king.
Except someone else pulls the sword out first....
"In Yolen's spellbinding twist on the Round Table legend, Morgause feels that her 17-year-old son Gawaine belongs on the throne of England. As she attempts to install him there, she tangles with both the court wizard and Gawaine himself. The author makes Gawaine the emotional lynchpin of the story; he mistrusts his mother and is wholly devoted to the only slightly older King Arthur. Portrayed here as the North Witch, Morgause detests Arthur (her half-brother, according to Arthurian lore), who she feels has usurped the throne. Morgause sends three of Gawaine's brothers back with him to Arthur's court under a diplomatic pretext, and Merlinnus, learning that one of Morgause's sons intends to assassinate Arthur, manufactures the tale of a sword lodged in a block of stone (which, of course, will prove Arthur's fated place upon the throne to a kingdom that has yet to fully embrace him). Yolen constructs a fascinating history linking Morgause to Merlinnus, and breathes fresh life into well-established characters; their encounters crackle with the vitality of overheard conversations. The dynamic between Merlinnus and Arthur is especially well realized: the former a shrewd, resourceful, fatherly man battling the discomforts of age, the latter a restless young king who merely tolerates the mundane responsibilities of monarchy ('Arthur had never met a chair he liked. Or a sport he disliked'). Yolen has explored Arthurian legend before, but her latest foray is a standout in this enormous canon. Ages 12-up." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Yolen works her reliable magic on the old tale of the sword in the stone, not by re-telling it but by borrowing its themes and characters and shaping it into a whole new story, shot through with equal parts humor, intrigue and poetry." The Washington Post Book World
"Although the prolific Yolen usually supplies more action, those who can't get enough of Arthur and his court will likely enjoy the different slant on his rise to power." Kirkus Reviews
"[A] page-turning tale of magic and adventure, betrayal, loyalty, and love. Through smooth, accessible prose, she draws her characters with broad strokes." School Library Journal
"[I]n [Yolen's] hands, this old tale of King Arthur is fresh and alive....Yolen's words and phrases evoke this ancient time yet will appeal to today's reader. Put this at the top of your read-aloud list." Children's Literature
"Yolen is a gifted writer of fantasy and has returned to this legend of Arthur and Merlin time and time again. She makes the action flow, blending the magic with reality." KLIATT
"Yolen employs simple vocabulary and straightforward storytelling to weave a subtle, many-layered tale. Her characters have depth and personality....It is, as the book's ending tells readers, 'an old story but a good one,' and Yolen does it honor." VOYA
The newly crowned King Arthur has yet to win the support of the people. Merlin must do something before the king is betrayed, or murdered, or--worst of all--gets married. So Merlin creates a trick: a sword magically placed into a slab of rock that only Arthur can withdraw. Then he lets it be known that whosoever removes the blade will rule all of England, and invites any man who would dare, to try to pull out the sword.
But then someone else pulls the sword out first. . . .
A boldly imagined tale of the early days of King Arthur's court.
About the Author
Jane Yolen has written more than two hundred books for children and adults, including the three volumes in the Young Merlin Trilogy: Passager, Hobby, and Merlin. She has won several of the most prestigious awards in children's literature. Ms. Yolen lives in western Massachusetts and Scotland.
Table of Contents
I.Queen's Anger/Mage's Dream 1
3.Queen's Entrance 15
4.Travel from Orkney 22
5.Message Delivered 36
6.Castle Mage 46
8.May Queen 65
9.Talking to Trees 72
II.Mage's Dream/King's Hope 79
10.Under the Oaks 80
11.Visitor to Cadbury 88
14.Hard Work 116
III.King's Hope/Prince's Danger 123
15.Riding South 124
16.Hard Hands 131
18.Prince's Choler 148
19.Off on the Hunt 160
21.The Price of Honor 176
IV.Prince's Danger/King's Hand 189
22.The Marvel 190
23.Sword in the Stone 196
25.Helping a Mage 207
26.Round Table 217
28.Hand to the Sword 236
V.King's Hand/Queen's Magic 245
29.May Queens All 246
30.At the Gate 252
32.The Great Dinner 268
VI.Queen's Magic/King's Sword 307
36.Reading the Air 308
37.Out to the Stone 316
38.Trying the Sword 324
39.Sword of the Rightful King 334