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Excalibur by Sanders Anne Laubenthal
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Excalibur (edition 1973)

by Sanders Anne Laubenthal

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131291,855 (3.43)4
Member:tiffin
Title:Excalibur
Authors:Sanders Anne Laubenthal
Info:Ballantine
Collections:Your library
Rating:
Tags:Modern Fantasy, Writing by Women

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Excalibur by Sanders Anne Laubenthal

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This was too slow for my taste, but still an interesting book. I liked the premise a lot, which centers around the Madoc legend in Mobile, AL. This legend is real, and is what the English used to lay claim to the Americas when Columbus "discovered" them for Spain. The story itself is interesting, but only the fact that Mobile has this legend is relevant to the story.

The main characters, Rhodri and Linette, excavate an ancient ruin under Linette's family's ancestral home of Silverthorne. While excavating, they begin to be assaulted by the witch Morgaine through Morgan, a visiting scholar staying at Silverthorne. While Rhodri and Linette are looking for Excalibur through both reality and... not reality, a parallel quest is going on for the Holy Grail via one of Linette's childhood friends.

Lots of interesting devices are used - Linette is a "conduit" for Morgaine, who doesn't want Excalibur and the Grail discovered, so she frequently takes possession of Linette's body. To counter this, someone else far away takes on the burden of getting possessed by Morgaine. Meanwhile, Morgan stokes the fires of Morgaine's power from yet another location.

The Grail Quest was the best part of this story. The character wanders dreamlike through both real and fantasy landscapes around Mobile. What start off as reality-based trials (saving a woman from rape) become more and more like the somewhat nonsensical tasks of legend. To protect him, yet another character begins to take on the madness of the evil forces pursuing him, so we have two very different perspectives towards the end of the quest.

But the characters didn't feel very accessible, and it was difficult to root for them. Descriptions are slow, ponderous, and frequent. It adds to the dreamlike atmosphere, but it was difficult for me to convince myself to read and finish this relatively short book knowing I'd have remote characters and copious descriptions of ethereal places to look forward to.

It is a good book, and there are definitely reasons to recommend it, but it wasn't for me. ( )
  ConnieJo | Jan 17, 2016 |
I read the original pb version of "Excaliber" many years ago when it was first published. The beginning is not great but I remember thoroughly enjoying most subsequent scenes. In them, the main characters interact with mythical beings, get swept up into an "alternative reality", and sometimes are involved in what might what be called "spiritual warfare".

One series of scenes in particular is strongly reminiscent of Charles Williams' principle of "substitution". Basically, this involves one person consciously taking on the psychological or spiritual burden currently shouldered by someone else. Williams demonstrated this best in his spiritual thriller novel, "Descent into Hell".

Laubenthal does a superb job of showing the same transfer & its effects toward the end of this book, as one character aids another who is on a kind of quest.

I ordered and received this revised SFBC edition of "Excalibur" via a used book dealer. (Hard cover -- see the illo above). I've been given to understand that Laubenthal was asked to revise her original manuscript by the new publisher, and I am hoping that she had a chance to fix some of the weaker scenes in the book. After I read the new edition, I may be editing my score for this title. I hope so! ( )
  SherryThompson | Jul 28, 2011 |
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