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The Saxon Shore


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About the Author

Jack Whyte is a Scots-born, award-winning Canadian author whose poem, The Faceless One, was featured at the 1991 New York Film Festival. The Camulod Chronicles is his greatest work, a stunning retelling of one of our greatest legends: the making of King Arthur's Britain. He lives in British Columbia, Canada.


The fourth book in Whyte's engrossing, highly realistic retelling of the Arthurian legend takes up where The Eagle's Brood (1997) left off. Narrated by Caius Merlyn Brittanicus from journals written at the end of the "wizard's" long life, this volume begins in an immensely exciting fashion, with Merlyn and the orphaned infant Arthur Pendragon in desperate straits, adrift on the ocean in a small galley without food or oars. They are saved by a ship commanded by Connor, son of the High King of the Scots of Eire, who takes the babe with him to Eireland until the return of Connor's brother Donuil, whom Connor believes has been taken hostage by Merlyn. The plot then settles into well-handled depictions of political intrigue, the training of cavalry with infantry and the love stories that inevitably arise, including one about Donuil and the sorcerously gifted Shelagh and another about Merlyn's half-brother, Ambrose, and the skilled surgeon Ludmilla. As Camulod prospers, Merlyn works hard at fulfilling what he considers his destinyÄpreparing the boy for his prophesied role as High King of all Britain. Whyte's descriptions, astonishingly vivid, of this ancient and mystical era ring true, as do his characters, who include a number of strong women. Whyte shows why Camulod was such a wonder, demonstrating time and again how persistence, knowledge and empathy can help push back the darkness of ignorance to build a shining futureÄa lesson that has not lost its value for being centuries old and shrouded in the mists of myth and magic. Author tour. (June)

"From the building blocks of history and the mortar of reality, Jack Whyte has built Arthur's world and showed us the bone beneath the flesh of legend." --Diana Gabaldon

YA-Three earlier books in this series have dealt with events that foreshadowed the rise of King Arthur. In this installment, readers learn of Merlin's antecedents and his descent from a Roman legionnaire and craftsman whose master creation was the sword Excalibur. Here, Merlyn Britannicus is presented as a man in his 30s, a wily political figure but very much a warrior, with no magical powers. In the vivid opening scene, he is adrift on the open sea with an infant in his arms, his cousin, the young Arthur. The following adventures concern Merlyn's efforts to assure Arthur's safety until he is old enough to begin to unify the divergent native clans of Britain with Saxon and Celtic invaders. This is first achieved by Merlyn's success in establishing a friendship with the Eirish tribe called the Scots, who effected his rescue from the shipwreck. His return to England with a force of the Scots and their remarkable war horses leads to the buildup of a fortressed community, which will eventually become Camulod, or Camelot. At the book's close, Arthur has become a capable young boy and Merlyn is removing him to Cumbria where Roman influence lingers. His intent is to raise and train him to worthy readiness for a great future. Whyte has taken an engaging approach to the long-established character of Merlin. Much that is new and intriguing brightens a legend that in many forms has always been enchanting.-Frances Reiher, Fairfax County Public Library, VA

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