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by: Stephen Lawhead
Review by Ciara Grey

To correspond with this issue's
interview with Stephen Lawhead, I'm going to review his latest release, Avalon.

During my "research" of this novel, I discovered a couple of things that Lawhead puts to good use, which are important when writing. The phrase, "write what you know" came to mind several times.

Mr. Lawhead writes a good and solid plot. His characters are well developed and the story has a good pace throughout. I enjoyed the prologue. It actually had immediate bearing on the story. So many times prologues leave you wondering why they were written and what their bearing was to the story.

The author is professional enough to successfully work into the story the overlapping of modern British politics and ancient Arthurian politics. Mr. Lawhead knows how British Parliament works and he is well informed about monarchial government. He's done his homework, and displays that knowledge without dumping the information on the reader. Rather, it is integrated into the plot and characterizations smoothly.

There was a point though in the story when Merlin and Morgian meet to do battle. The whole fight seemed to be missing something. There was a lot of wind and tension but I'm not really sure what went on. Merlin doesn't even know what he did to Morgian. I would have thought Merlin would not have been one to fool with unknown magical forces. This scene could have been fleshed out a touch more, in my opinion.

In one scene, the protagonist, James was attacked by a gang of skinheads with pitbull dogs. The description of the fight with the skinheads was good, the tension mounting and the action believable. However, the pitbulls and how they were dealt with wasn't as credible. Pitbull terriers are notoriously vicious when provoked. Yet I felt the dogs were defeated too easily.

Another part that didn't sit well with me was how James and his girlfriend Jenny got together. Jenny was upset with James because he had not made a commitment nor given her enough attention. After he proclaimed himself the rightful king, he asked her to marry him. It appeared that she was going to make him sweat her decision, but suddenly out of the blue she agreed to marry him. This seemed a little contradictory in the character Mr. Lawhead had shown her to be. Most women would have made it more difficult. I know I would have, king or not!

This was an interesting twist on the Arthurian theme. It had the Camelot mystique with new innovative characters, and maintained a great blend of history and present, without confusing the reader with unclarified timelines at all. Overall the writing in this novel was very high quality. The worst part was that it came to an end.

Because of the high professionality, great story and huge enjoyment factorI rate this novel
* * * * *

Rating Scale:
* * * * * = Un-put-downable, excellent reading!
* * * * = Good value, interesting reading.
* * * = Had potential, but could have been better.
* * = Slow, difficult to read, could have been improved.
* = Imminently forgettable.



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