I thought that I would begin by sharing my thoughts on indie author K.M. Shea’s King Arthur and Her Knights series, as Ms. Shea is about to release the last book in this series hopefully within the next few weeks.
These books- each only the length of a novella except for the last one which, according to K.M. Shea’s blog, will be about 75,000 words- follow the story of Britt Arthur’s, a college-aged American woman from the twenty-first century who gets sucked back in time when she touches a magical sword in a graveyard while on a British Book Sightseeing Tour with a few of her friends. She arrives in Camelot-age Britain, smack-dab into the presence of Sir Kay, who eventually becomes her reserved but fiercely loving stepbrother, Sir Ector, her jolly, doting stepfather, and Merlin, the misleadingly young wizard who is grumpy, obsessed with uniting Britain, and extremely reluctant to feel anything other than professional concern for Britt. He is quite possibly my favorite character. Britt is informed that the real Arthur has run off with a shepherdess and she has been chosen by the spell that Merlin cast upon the Sword in the Stone to become King Arthur. Subsequently, what follows are the adventures of Britt and the friends that she makes in Camelot.
Now, I have a dirty little secret to tell you all… (Drum roll please). I’ve never actually read the original King Arthur story, so I don’t know how faithful these books are to the legends, but I have been informed that K.M. Shea does an admirable job. I know, I know, this is probably the Greatest Mistake of My Life, but, well, there it is. I do intend to remedy that eventually, which redeems me a bit. Doesn’t it? Guys?…
Anyway, to continue on. I absolutely love these charming, lovely, books that both made me laugh out loud with each rereading- yes, I am an avid spokesperson of rereading- and feel great empathy for almost all of the characters. It may seem like a fluffy, trite storyline the way I’ve explained it here, and it’s true that it isn’t anything that will make you do a complete rethinking of your whole existence, but it isn’t entirely without morals and feelings. Britt is smart, funny, capable, and generally just loved by everyone. (Yeah, Merlin, even you.) At first she is reluctant to accept that her whole experience isn’t simply an elaborate prank or a dream, but eventually she comes to realise that it’s very real. She misses her family and friends dreadfully. Enough, even, that she develops a severe case of insomnia- I try to be sympathetic about this, but her nightly prowls make for some of the best scenes in the books- and this never really goes away, though, over the passage of time she seems to learn to cope with her loss better.
I could write a whole other post on the relationships in these books; the platonic ones as well as the very few romantic ones; but I think I shall have to just focus on Britt and Merlin’s special brand of camaraderie for today.
As I’ve already mentioned, Merlin is my favorite character in all of the King Arthur’s books, but as I ponder it, I think it’s less because of him on his own and more because of what Britt does to him. Together, their dialogue is some of the most entertaining of any of K.M. Shea’s characters.
“Keep that hairy mutt outside the great hall,” Merlin ordered as they made their way to the treasury door.
“You are acting like a child.”
“I am a woman masquerading as a 15-year-old boy king who makes no decisions about his own kingdom. The least you will allow me to do is to make decisions regarding my pets.”
The matter-of-fact way that Britt presents the way she feels to him, and the confused, annoyed, distraught way that Merlin tries to deny it all are written superbly- so superbly, in fact, that there were many times that I quite literally yelled at Merlin through the screen of my kindle that for such an intelligent man, he certainly was being stupid. However, by the last scene of Endeavor (yes, all of the book titles are words that start with the letter E. I really want to meet this author) I was… well, not satisfied, but temporarily satiated.
I really enjoyed all of the strong female influences as well. Nymue, Morgause, Morgan, and, of course, Britt herself. These ladies don’t take no for an answer, and I especially enjoyed their sheer hatred of chauvinistic pigs such as Lancelot and his cousins (yeah, ‘cuz in this version, Lancelot is a jerk. At least, I think…)
All, in all, the verdict. Read it. Read it all and love it. Now. Shoo.
Still here? Well then, I suppose I’ll say that I apologise for the 800 word post, and to reiterate that I will not live until I have the newly published Endings- the long-awaited series finale- in my hands.