Thursday, January 3, 2008

Song of the Sparrow by Lisa Ann Sandell

I recommend this book for: middle school and up, fans of Arthurian legend

I was excited to hear about this book - the life of the Lady of Shallott! Written in verse! How tremendous! I'm sad to say, I was a bit disappointed.

The premise is wonderful - Elaine of Ascolat lives with her father and brothers in King Arthur's camp since their mother was killed and their home destroyed. She heals the wounded and mends clothing and armor for all of the men, thinking of them all as her brothers. The exception is Lancelot, to whom she wishes to be much more than a sister. Then the ladylike, pampered Gwynivere arrives, and they are enemies from almost first sight. Girlish jealousy is not the worst of Elaine's problems, however - all sorts of events are set into motion, including one of Arthur's most famous battles, in which the two girls will play a crucial role.

This Elaine is not confined to a tower, but those who have read Tennyson's poem will recognize some of the images repeated in this work. Fans of Arthurian legend will find much familiar and also some pleasant surprises - for instance, both Elaine and Sir Tristan find much happier endings in this tale than in any of the other reworkings I've read.

My biggest problem with this book was the verse, which seemed very uneven. The best bits of poetry were wonderful, but some of the parts that seemed like an attempt to be elevated fell flat with me. The dialogue was sometimes spot on and sometimes very awkward. In the end, the story was fantastic, but the form could have been improved.

No reviews, but here it is on Amazon.

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