If you’ve read one Philip Reeve book, you’ve probably read all of Philip Reeve’s books, because he’s the sort of writer whose stories make you want to head out and read everything he’s ever done. So it should please his fans that his latest offering, Here Lies Arthur is a gutsy, wholly original revamp of the traditional Arthurian legend.
Readers will recognize Myrddin (Merlin), Gwenhwyfar (Guinevere), Bedwyr (Lancelot), Peredur (Perceval) and of course, Arthur, but there is a lot that’s different in this retelling. Myrddin the bard takes centre stage as the brains behind Arthur’s brawn and lust for power. In fact, Reeve presents Myrrdin as a myth-maker, as the storyteller who manipulates events to portray Arthur, who is fairly unimpressive in reality, as a remarkable leader. The narrator is Gwyna, an orphan slave-girl taken in by Mryddin to work as his assistant. At Myrrdin’s side, Gwyna ends up learning a great deal about politics, deception and gullibility.
This book will make you think. It will make you consider the power of one person to “spin” an event to suit whatever purpose or plan they might wish. In this way, Reeve has created a novel with an instant connection to the present. This old, old story feels suddenly modern and easy to relate to current figures and events, to the media and celebrity.
Those who hold the original Arthurian characters very close to their hearts might not want to read this version, because I think it will change forever how you think about the story. It will make you wonder and ask questions. Here Lies Arthur is about blood and betrayal, loss and love and trickery. Very highly recommended.