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Mordred, Bastard Son (2007)

by Douglas Clegg

Series: Mordred Trilogy (Book 1)

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2414113,697 (3.59)4
A monk becomes enthralled by the story prisoner Mordred has to tell, one of ambition, power, and betrayal. Here, Mordred emerges as a sympathetic and romantic hero, tortured by his love for the knight he cannot possess. This is the paperback release of the very well-received re-imagining of the Arthurian tale - retold for a gay audience.… (more)

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» See also 4 mentions

Showing 4 of 4
i enjoyed this book, and i look forward to the next two books in this series, but i cannot lie: this book read a little like slash fanfiction. that's not a bad thing -- allah knows i would read fifty retellings of arthurian legend from the point of view of a strong, smart homosexual protagonist; the fact mordred was gay lends an interesting angle to a story i've loved for a very long time. but hot damn, the prose was a little purple, and by 'a little' i mean 'a lot'. ( )
  kickthebeat | Nov 1, 2020 |
Lots of potential but quite dull in execution. This novel starts off strong, with a wounded Mordred beginning to tell his life story. Unfortunately, Mordred's childhood is boring. Most of the book is him wandering around the Lake, lusting hopelessly after other young men, and learning the occasional bit of magic. The potential is present: Merlin is a composite of his many thousands of incarnations, the witches in the forest worship an ancient and foreign goddess, the mysterious hermit just might be Lancelot... But, by the time the action starts, the book is over, and as the first of an unfinished trilogy, I guess that's it. ( )
  semjaza | Nov 6, 2015 |
I read the final Harry Potter book in seven hours; this book took me three weeks because I kept putting it down. The opening is quite promising. A hooded man slips ashore in Britain. He’s a hunted man, the most wanted man on the isle. Close to capture, he is hidden by a monk in exchange for telling his tale. Clegg is best known for his horror, so I expected more vibrancy. Instead, I often felt as if I was reading Sir Thomas Mallory’s “La Morte D’Arthur”. On the plus side, this made the story feel less like a modern interpretation and more like a tale from the pages of history. Unfortunately, the book was bogged down by a lot description. The majority concerns Mordred’s upbringing and tutelage by Merlin; a young boy describing his everyday life, albeit in a medieval setting concerned with rituals and goddess lore. This is intended as the first of a trilogy, and subsequently there’s no action to counter all the description and somewhat poetic language.

That said, I am disappointed that the publisher has not followed through with the sequels. The author brings a lot of great new twists to the tale, and Mordred is an interesting protagonist. His mother didn’t seduce Arthur; she was raped by him – likely due to the malevolent influence of Excalibur. Merlin is not an ancient sage; he is reincarnated again and again, but retains all the memories and wisdom from the prior lives. And, he loves Mordred as a son. All the factors start to come together for a fantastic tale. Though I was a bit underwhelmed by this, I would definitely read the sequels because the potential is here and I do want to know what happens next! ( )
  jshillingford | Sep 22, 2011 |
Plot: A retelling of the Arthurian legends from Mordred's point of view. This book is the first in a trilogy (at a bit over 200 pages, a meagre trilogy unless the page count goes up in the next volume) and covers Mordred's life pre-court. A love story with Lancelot is thrown in for good measure. Overall, not too much really happens.

Characters: Most characters are well known from the legends and don't go through too much character development. The three witches from Macbeth were somewhat distracting. Mordred himself is written as highly sensitive and delicate, which did not quite work for me.

Style: Overly mystic at times. A lot of description that tends to kill off momentum. It's a slow read that gets bogged down by too many words at times.

Plus: re-interpretation in some areas. Mordred/Lancelot action for those who, after Mists of Avalon, knew that something of the sort had to be going on in Camelot.

Minus: Too mystic, too short to justify a trilogy. Occasional weirdness.

Summary: A fun re-interpretation at times, but it falls short of expectations.

Caveat: Clegg currently is not working on the sequels, but on a new project. ( )
1 vote surreality | Jun 9, 2007 |
Showing 4 of 4
. . . a meticulously-researched and beautifully-written tale that is at once supremely romantic and tragic, yet somehow also a poignant, modern portrayal . . .
*Starred Review* Clegg puts an inspired wrinkle in the hoary tale of Arthur and the grail . . . This is the riveting first volume in a trilogy. How excellent.
Clegg (The Priest of Blood) maintains a nice balance between the human and mythic dimensions of his characters, portraying the familiar elements of their story from refreshingly original angles.

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With thanks for being as much a partner on this novel as you are with every novel I write.
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This book is a bit of an unusual spin on the Arthurian legends. I consider its genre alternate historical fantasy, if anything can be called such, since I fully imagine mythical beasts and ancient sorceries existing alongside such people as Mordred, Morgan le Fey, and Merlin. -Foreword
The long wooden boat, its sails lowered, glided along the marshy shoals at an inlet from the mist-shrouded sea. -Chapter One
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A monk becomes enthralled by the story prisoner Mordred has to tell, one of ambition, power, and betrayal. Here, Mordred emerges as a sympathetic and romantic hero, tortured by his love for the knight he cannot possess. This is the paperback release of the very well-received re-imagining of the Arthurian tale - retold for a gay audience.

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