George V. Reilly

Review: Uther

Uther
Title: Uther
Author: Jack Whyte
Rating: ★ ★ ★
Publisher: Tor
Copyright: 2001
Pages: 916
Keywords: historical, fantasy
Reading period: 13–28 January, 2007

This is the seventh volume of the Camulod Chronicles, Jack Whyte’s sprawling retelling of the Arthurian legend. Whyte is consumed by the backstory of the legend, so much so that the sixth book The Sorceror Meta­mor­pho­sis ends with young Arthur drawing Excalibur from a stone. The first two books, The Skystone and The Singing Sword, tell of the founding of the Colony of Camulod by two far-sighted Romano-Britons, Caius Bri­tan­ni­cus and his brother-in-law Publius Varrus, who foresee the collapse of the Roman Empire. The third book, The Eagles’ Brood, tells of their grandsons, Caius Merlyn Bri­tan­ni­cus and Uther Pendragon. Narrated by Merlyn, that book shows them growing up as in­sep­a­ra­ble friends, who fall out in adulthood. The next three books, The Saxon Shore, The Fort at River’s Bend, and The Sorceror Meta­mor­pho­sis, detail Merlyn’s efforts to raise Arthur from infancy to adulthood, largely in secrecy.

This book, Uther, is a parallel novel to The Eagles’ Brood, told from the per­spec­tive of Uther, shedding light on the more mysterious events of the earlier book. It is suf­fi­cient­ly different from the earlier book that it stands in its own right. Uther is the king of the Celtic people of Cambria, though he spends much of his childhood at his cousin’s home in Camulod. Much of the book concerns Uther’s long war with Lot, king of Cornwall, and Uther’s secret re­la­tion­ship with Ygraine, Lot’s queen, and the mother of Arthur. Merlyn is a secondary character.

Whyte’s tendency to towards long­wind­ed­ness has grown worse as the series advances, and this book would have benefited from a firm-handed editor.

Moderately enjoyable, but rec­om­mend­ed mainly for com­pletists who have read the rest of the series.

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