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The Anvil Stone by Kathleen Cunningham Guler
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‘Death to you. Two sons of the North or two of the White Dragon. Your choice. Beware … Excalibur.’ (page 373)

Marcus ap Iorwerth follows his dream to unite Britain and fights Saxon’s threat. Marcus is helped by his wife Claerwen, who foresees the future with what is called ‘fire in the head’.

‘The light burst inside Claerwen, firing magnificent and hot and raging, and from its center she saw a hand ran up through the water’s surface. It was the woman of the lake’s hand, and her graceful, slender fingers clutched a sword’s hilt as sure as strong as any warrior’s. The blade, long and slightly tapered, was forged of fine steel; the hilt, pommel and cross-guard of brilliant, chased gold. Light radiated from it …’ (page 92)

Rival fractions fight each other to impose a new king on Britain, they are also searching another piece of Macsen’s Treasure: the sword Excalibur. Uther, present king, already holds parts of Macsen’s Treasure: the crown, the spearhead, and the torque; but Excalibur is waiting for the new king: Arthur.

Marcus gets injured, so follows a long exile and separation from Claerwen.
Eventually many mysteries are revealed, but Arthur is still a boy …

The Anvil Stone also fights against an enemy: Arthur’s legends and hundreds of books already written about his adventures (legend or truth).
Arthur and Excalibur are the winners.
King Arthur lived in the early sixth century, according to legends he defended Britain from the invaders Saxons. Legends and history tells a story where magic is important and necessary.
The Anvil Stone lacks of magic, fantastic scenery, supernatural events.
Myrddin (or Merlin the Enchanter) spreads a bit of fantastic on Marcus’s life, but insufficient to bear an entire book (it comes at the end of the story): ‘He will be the light that comes out of the darkness. You (Marcus) are a blacksmith. You know of dark and light, fire and iron.’ (page 401)

Marcus and Claerwen’s story is a thoughtful passage of their life. They clarify each other of previous fears, nightmares, dreams.
Marcus’ dark side (Iron Hawk) is unveiled when his past is narrated to Claerwen.
Claerwen: ‘Is this your true nature? Is the disdain for killing just a mask to hide it, a nature you won’t admit to himself except through the Iron Hawk?’ (page 369) ( )
  GrazianoRonca | Jan 28, 2011 |
The third installment of the series has been my favorite so far. We a get a more in depth look at the characters without sacrificing plot. This is also the first of the series where I really began to recognize some of the Arthur legend. ( )
  janemarieprice | Apr 6, 2010 |
Wow! What a ride!

Kathleen Cunningham Guler's "The Anvil Stone", is the third book in the Macsen's Treasure series, set in fifth century Britain.

This is a difficult book to review without introducing spoilers, because there is so much going on.

Our hero and heroine, Marcus the spy, and his wife Claerwen, return for another adventure, and there is, perforce, another piece of Macsen's treasure to be found. In this case, it is Excalibur, the sword we all know as the one found by the legendary King Arthur and pulled by him from the fabled stone. Guler chooses to construct the story in such a way that Marcus and Claerwen know the name "Excalibur", but for much of the book do not know what, or who, it refers to.

This preliminary quest for Excalibur is interwoven with the ongoing task of keeping the various factions of early post-Roman Britain united against their common enemy, the Saxons.

The story begins with Marcus experiencing a kind of flashback dream to a horrific incident that occurred during his childhood. This turns out to be significant later in the book, and is used to help explain how Marcus became a spy. However, the plot really begins with Marcus receiving a horrific effigy from a stranger who later turns out to be a kind of arch-enemy for both Marcus and Claerwen.

While Claerwen is often found at the side of her husband in his work as a spy, there is a lengthy period of separation that serves as an effective device, allowing the author to advance the plot on two fronts simultaneously.

The characters and plot here are richer and more complex than in the earlier volumes of the series. In addition, the level of excitement the author brings to the many battles and sword fights with gripping narrative has risen to a new high. This makes the book hard to put down.

This book is easily the best of the first three installments in the series, for the interest and complexity of the plot, and the brilliantly written action sequences. ( )
1 vote jmccarro | Feb 24, 2010 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0966037154, Hardcover)

In fifth-century Britain, only a few souls believed Merlin the Enchanter’s prophecy, that the “once and future king” called Arthur would one day rescue them from fierce and deadly Saxons. In a world where “king” simply meant “warlord,” many wondered: would there even be a Britain left for Arthur to rule once he was born and old enough to wield a sword of his own?

One man refused to let that dream fade into nightmarish despair…

“Freedom is all that matters.” So says spy and master of disguise Marcus ap Iorwerth of his greatest dream. For years, he has courageously struggled to unite Britain’s feuding internal factions and derail the ever-encroaching Saxon threat that has made his homeland a deadly place.

So when a mysterious stranger delivers a gruesome, bloodstained effigy fashioned to look like him, Marcus immediately knows it’s both a warning and a challenge. He and his wife Claerwen—whose gift of second sight makes her a target as well—run headlong into the daunting fray. Rival factions are instigating war both among themselves and with the Saxons, and while Marcus sets out to quash their treachery, Claerwen discovers another crisis. Those same factions have mounted a desperate search for one of Britain’s most cherished symbols—a magnificent sword of the ancient high kings that has been lost for decades. She knows the sword must be found; it is part of Britain’s future and will pass to a great king called Arthur who has been prophesied to come. With battle about to erupt all around, Marcus learns the stranger, an assassin bent on killing him, may be one of the last sources that could lead him and Claerwen to the sacred sword.

The Anvil Stone brings the volatile tribal nature of Dark Age Britain to life and deftly interweaves it with its mystical Celtic roots and the promise of hope found in the Arthurian legend. A stunning display of the storyteller’s craft, this book is the third in the spectacular four-part Macsen’s Treasure series that began with Into the Path of Gods and In the Shadow of Dragons.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:00 -0400)

In fifth-century Britain, only a few souls believed Merlin the Enchanter's prophecy, that the "once and future king" called Arthur would one day rescue them from fierce and deadly Saxons. In a world where "king" simply meant "warlord," many wondered: would there even be a Britain left for Arthur to rule once he was born and old enough wield a sword of his own? One man refused to let that dream fade into nightmarish despair...… (more)

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