Friday, September 09, 2016


To revive this King Arthur is to revive injustice

Eileen Enwright Hodgetts – Excalibur Rising, Book One – 2014

Arthur will never die, and his Excalibur will never rust away. But Merlin will end up as a pile of pebbles on a beach. His magic will be dead of course. So here is the new phase, the new introduction, the new rebirth, revival and resuscitation of brave King Arthur and his Round Table Knights, except one, the bad boy, the unfaithful, wife-thief Lancelot.

The best side of this story is the treasure hunt after Excalibur that is a myth, as everyone knows, a myth that has no existence in no historical timeline, just the same as King Arthur who is a reconstruction, if not a simple construction of medieval minds. And yet the author assumes that the 12th century is the date of the BIRTH of the legend. Of course not! The 12th century is the turning point in England when all kinds of epic stories are codified into the forms they will have forever after by being finally written down on some parchment or paper (the paper mills started developing in the 12th century, brought back from the Crusades). It is the same thing with Tristan and Iseult, and some others. The mistake is that people do not see that such stories when they find some ancillary writer who will for the first time write them down on paper have existed for centuries and centuries, being invented, developed, multiplied, changed and made to go through many other mutating elements. The date on the manuscript that reached us is nothing but the end of the oral existence of the tale that was the only form of circulation it could have: being told by story teller, troubadours, minstrels or whatever they may have been called in the dark ages.

If you keep that in mind, then the legend of King Arthur has roots that go back to at least the end of the Roman Empire, when Great Britain was invaded by the Germanic tribes and then the Vikings, etc, something like at least six centuries if not even seven before the official date of the first written version known to us.

To revive King Arthur in our modern time can of course not happen in our world. It has to happen in another world, a parallel world and we are in the parallel worlds of Fringe or Stephen King, with or without Peter Straub. That’s an easy way to avoid impossible anachronistic confrontations. But then you have to build a fable to enable this Excalibur that has to be in existence on this side of the divide to be brought back to King Arthur, the living dead king hidden with his knights on this side of the divide in some caves that are going to be flooded because of a dam that has been built in this valley. That gives some sense of urgency and some military and police presence in the valley with modern dragon like helicopters.

But that would be too simple like that. So you must bring some strange people in the treasure hunt after Excalibur. First a small professor of history, turned TV anchorman for some treasure hunting reality show, turned unemployed because of the Internet and then finally turned curator of a private collection of a mafia boss. Second a psychic who can see and feel things just by touching objects or people. No secret possible. She knows it all, and yet in spite of this real psychic power she is nothing but a greedy woman who wants to get money out of the mafia boss by delivering any old sword to him and telling him it is Excalibur. Anyway Excalibur has never existed, has it? Third the descendant of the illegitimate son of Arthur whose wife could not carry out the essential task of child bearing, and the book strangely enough assumes or endorses the hostility of Arthur against his own illegitimate son, Mordred, though frankly I would rather prefer the mongrel son who is rejected even by his own father because he is a mongrel. I would prefer a rewriting of the re-apparition of King Arthur in a more modern way that respects the identity of people and refuse any segregation. King Arthur, it is high time you let your only son take over.

But that may be the matter of the next volume, after all.

You will like the style, the nice violence and the nasty social climbing psychology of the characters, on both sides of the divide. Nothing new under the sun, but there might be something new under the son, though he is not depicted as a very sympathetic person. It is high time the son could out-father the father and the father should accept his being out-fathered by his own son, even if he was conceived in some back alley of some dirty red district.


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