Book Review: Mordred, Bastard Son by Douglas Clegg
You all know my Arthurian legend obsession, right? It’s all-consuming and the mere mention of a character from the Arthurian legend or a simple sniff of Camelot will get me to at least take a first glance at a book. So, when I stumbled across Mordred, Bastard Son by Douglas Clegg and read the blurb I had to check it out. Mordred is a pivotal character in Arthurian legend and is credited with the death of King Arthur himself. He’s often the villain but he is also one of my favorite characters. I was very interested in seeing Clegg’s version of the myth.
Mordred emerges as a heroic and romantic figure, torn between his powerful mother’s desire for revenge against Arthur, his own conflicted feelings toward the father who betrayed him, and his passionate love affair with a knight in King Arthur’s court. From his birth into his youth, Mordred’s soul is forged by the great forces of the Arthurian world – and of the shadow legend of a father who has sought the death of his only son. This is the legend like it has never been seen before; showing a take upon the familiar characters that has never been seen before and giving us a unique look at Mordred.
I’ve found mixed reviews for Mordred, Bastard Son, most of them slightly negative. I can’t completely disagree with them. The book is well-written but well-written does not necessarily mean good story telling. If I wasn’t an Arthurian legend fanatic I probably would not have finished the book and as it is, it took me almost a month to wade through it. The writing is poetic and flowery and I often found the dialogue annoying. I found most of the characters themselves annoying as well, which is not a good thing for a book. The plot is also slow and, for the most part, nothing happens until the very end. Mordred, Bastard Son could be condensed into half the size and retain the same amount of important information.
Logically, based on the legend, you know Mordred must end up in Camelot and that hope can carry a person through the slow ebbs of the book. However, disappointment will be your only reward, as by the end of the book Mordred is just leaving his childhood home. It’s very frustrating to read a book and not get anywhere. Mordred is passive and Morgan, his mother, just makes me angry and annoyed. I feel slightly guilty for this because the legend of Morgan is rather heartbreaking. Arthur rapes her, his half-sister, and then tries to kill her and their unborn child because of a prophesy that a bastard son of Arthur’s will kill him. Morgan basically stops functioning and by the second time she tries to kill herself, I’m ready for her just to die so we can move on with the story already. This seems horrible of me but Mordred spends the whole book damning his own soul in repeated attempts to save Morgan, who plainly just wants to die. I’m all out of sympathy. Sorry.
I’m always looking for something great when I pick up a book based on Arthurian legend and while I will be checking out the sequel to Mordred, Bastard Son out of shear curiosity, the book was a bit of a disappointment. I wasn’t able to get into the story and the emotion the characters brought out of me most was annoyance. The plot is so slow that it drags and none of the events are very exciting. It’s a very frustrating book. I was hoping for much, much more from Mordred, Bastard Son by Douglas Clegg.