Anna Elliott – Short Stories: The Witch Queen’s Secret & Dawn of Avalon
Genre: Short Story, Historical Fiction
Started: 22 September 2010
Finished: 23 September 2010
Summary: “The Witch Queen’s Secret” occurs after the events of Twilight of Avalon, although it’s probably understandable without having read that book. It picks up the story of Dera, the camp follower/prostitute, who had come with her son to the Lady Isolde for help. She comes back, and will find that her help is needed in turn – both in the sickroom, and on a highly important and highly dangerous mission among the troops outside the castle.
Review: I liked Dera as a character, and it was interesting seeing Isolde from a different perspective, but I never felt like I got entirely into this story. It might have been because I was reading it late at night and on an airplane (neither of which are conducive to full attention), or it might have been because some parts of the plot involved remembering names and details of the people involved in the political situation at the end of Twilight of Avalon, and I’ve got a notoriously leaky memory when it comes to that kind of thing. Still, it was a quickly-paced, well-plotted, and enjoyable little story, it got me excited to read the newly-released book in the series, Dark Moon of Avalon, it took my mind off of the unpleasant realities of air travel for a while, and it was free, so there’s not much more that I can really ask for. 4 out of 5 stars.
Recommendation: If you liked Twilight of Avalon, this story’s definitely worth your time; if you haven’t read Elliott’s other work but like historical fiction and/or non-standard Arthuriana, this would be a good (and free!) way to get a feel for her style.
First Line: Knowing that you’d gotten your own self into a mess wasn’t all that much consolation when you were about to die.
Started: 23 September 2010
Finished: 24 September 2010
Summary: Long before Arthur became the High King, there were forces of Fate moving in Britain. One such happenstance tossed together two young people: Arthur’s half-sister Morgan, the seeress, and Merlin, a druid who also catches ripples of the future – or is it the past? Their separate destinies will soon drag them apart, but together they will contrive to steal from fate one perfect day to call their own.
Review: I liked this story quite a bit, although I’m admittedly a sucker for a good love story. It was a little bit strange, however, since I’m so used to the standard Arthurian retelling where Merlin is substantially older than Arthur (and therefore than Morgan), that it felt a little bit strange recasting him as a romantic lead. Maybe because of this, it took me a little while at the beginning of the story to get my bearings and pin down who each of the characters was, and how they fit into the world that Elliott had already created. Once I got my footing, however, it was a highly enjoyable story – nothing too meaty, but a fun distraction. 4 out of 5 stars.
Recommendation: Although this story is nominally a prequel to Twilight of Avalon, neither is required for understanding the other, so if you like Arthuriana, Elliott’s writing, or good free short stories (or all three), it’s worth checking out.
First Line: Pain. He was awash in a black sea of it, and each wave gnawed at his every muscle and nerve.
Vocab: (see the whole list)
- Location 239: “A beat of Sight, maybe, like a second pulse, showing me the memory of Gamma’s silent nemetons, the sacred groves where I had lived until last spring.” – a sacred space of ancient Celtic religion.
Other Reviews: Libri Touches (Dawn of Avalon)
Have you reviewed either of these stories? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.
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