This book has been on my shelf for so long, I don’t know what kept me from picking it up. The last time I tried to pick it up I had the flu and fell asleep reading it and then had a terrifying dream – so I think that has something to do with it.
This book is told entirely in verse and is set on the cusp of King Arthur’s court. The poetry of it all isn’t too flowery, and it reads naturally, but with less dialogue and not much time spent on descriptions.
We follow Elaine, who is a play on the Lady of Shalot, and she lives with the men at a battle camp and helps heal them. Elaine loves helping her friends and brothers, but worries about them. She enjoys her freedom in the camp, but is finding herself more restrained as she is becoming a woman. As Arthur becomes the leader of the Britons, he decides that they must push the Saxons out of their lands. She finds herself in love with Lancelot, and things get even more complicated when another woman joins the camp. As the troop prepares to leave, Elaine decides that she will not leave them to fend for themselves, and she plans to follow behind them in secrecy to see help them defeat the Saxons.
Even though this book is nearly 400 pages long, it was a pretty quick read for me. It’s different from anything I’ve read so far this year and it was a breath of fresh air. Each time I sat down, even for a short time, I found myself reading 30-40 pages. The poetry quality of it felt very atmospheric.
I enjoyed reading about Elaine, she was very self-sufficient and free-thinking for her time. I liked that she did her part to help the men, and they didn’t look down on her but viewed her as an equal in her service. Even though she is in love with Lancelot, the romance doesn’t pay a central role, but rather her love for the troops and her family as a whole. She ends up saving them all with her bravery, and that is what is important. Only after she does that, does her heart finds its “song.”
I will be keeping this book, the poetry is beautiful and I think I could take something new from it each time. Plus, I think it will be fascinating to read it again later as I know more about Arthurian tales.
I would recommend this for anyone who appreciates poetry, but especially anyone who has a particular interest in King Arthur’s court.