|Prophecy: Clash of Kings by M.K. Hume|
This is one of those books that I felt held so much promise within its ample pages. I have never read or come across any historical fiction that includes or is about the events leading up to Merlin's birth and then the childhood of Merlin. I was generally excited to find out what M.K. Hume's vision of these phases of Merlin's life were going to be like.
In fact, when it comes to the entire story surrounding the Arthurian myths I have read very few historical fiction books that include King Arthur and Merlin. Books on these figures of mythology tend to go down the fantasy path and mythological fantasy does not interest me at all.
There are books out there such as the Bernard Cornwell Warlord Chronicles (The Winter King, Enemy of God, Excalibur) and the Jack Whyte Camulod Chronicles (which numbers nine books now, of which I have only read one), that deal with the Arthurian saga in a straight, non fantastical manner. The way I prefer it. So when I came across the M.K. Hume books I was delighted to discover from the book blurb and from the lips of the author, that these too were purported to be straight historical fiction. Only this was not true. The book technically should be classed as Fantasy Fiction despite its marketing as straight.
I had been assured Merlin has no powers, no magic, and what was there, such as the 'sight' could be rationalised by cynics like me who want a realistic version of Merlin that could have actually happened, or on the converse, believed by those who revel in the suggestive nature of myth and embrace all hints of the mystical and magical. The sight could not be rationalised however. It was done in a fantastical way and could not be rationally explained. So no, not straight fantasy free historical fiction at all.
The promise I thought the book held within its ample pages, soon dwindled away and then flickered out completely. I could not finish it. It was not what I had expected and it did not suit me as a reader.
There are times when I did not feel that it was the cleverest of writing and some scenes seemed forced or were simply peculiar, awkward, rushed or overworked to fit the tale or timeline. From time to time I also had 'setting' confusion. On occasion it read like it was set much later than it was. For some reason I kept slipping forward to Sixteenth or Seventeenth Century.
But the book was written well enough. Overall, it is not awful writing, it was just, well, young. I do not know how else to say it. Like a Young Adult book. And the fact that the author was a woman was also very evident. I found the book to be strongly feminine. Even, if I dare, strongly feminist too. Not sure if that was intentional, or whether the author was unwittingly soaking through into her character development.
I can see how this book would gain fans and find appreciators in all walks of life and in many countries around the world. I think it is wonderful that someone is writing 'borderline' straight historical fiction, which can cross age boundaries, that is based on the Arthurian mythology. That here is a series with much to offer young adults and teenagers. A writer who can reach them and stir their imaginations whilst at the same time reacquainting and refiring the minds of adults too.
To my dismay, it was not for me. It did not reacquaint or refire anything in me. I give it 2 stars out of 5 and shall bid M.K. Hume's Merlin adieu.