2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Be forewarned about this one...then it won't disappoint!
Fans of the first three volumes of Lawhead's "Pendragon Cycle" need to be forewarned about two things before they commence this fourth volume of the series.
Firstly, "Pendragon" is not a continuation of the story that ended in volume 3. "Taliesin", "Merlin" and "Arthur" complete Lawhead's retelling of the Arthurian...
Published on April 5 2001 by Godly Gadfly
3.0 out of 5 stars A little disappointing.
After the first three books, I expected much more from Pendragon. The first three told an enchanting story through several generations. This one, as near as I can tell, takes place between sections 2 and 3 of "Arthur." The main battle seems to be the same as the final battle in book three; did Arthur go through the same thing twice with two different enemies...
Published on May 31 1999
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Be forewarned about this one...then it won't disappoint!,
This review is from: Pendragon: Book Four of the Pendragon Cycle (Mass Market Paperback)Fans of the first three volumes of Lawhead's "Pendragon Cycle" need to be forewarned about two things before they commence this fourth volume of the series.
Firstly, "Pendragon" is not a continuation of the story that ended in volume 3. "Taliesin", "Merlin" and "Arthur" complete Lawhead's retelling of the Arthurian legends, and form a complete and independent story in themselves. In "Pendragon", Lawhead expands on a part of the story about king Arthur that he has already described by recounting one of the struggles that the king Arthur faced in the early days of his kingship.
Secondly, "Pendragon" does not match the high standards of the three volumes that preceded it. Readers familiar with the first three volumes will find that Lawhead recounts much of Arthur's life that they are already familiar with. In fact, the description of Arthur's king-making is nearly identical word for word to the description of this same event found in "Arthur", the only difference being that "Pendragon" recounts the event from the perspective of Merlin. But the initial drama and sense of passion and glory is gone, because we have been here before. Even though events such as Arthur's youth are described in more detail here than in "Arthur", the fact remains that we already know the basic plot, and this detracts from the amount of enjoyment you can expect.
Yet with this warning in mind, "Pendragon" is still a worthwhile read. Lawhead focuses on one aspect of Arthur's reign, namely his conflict against the barbarian Vandals and against a pestilent plague. Don't be confused: this is not an enemy described in "Arthur", hence its ascription as "The Forgotten War" (Chronologically both "Pendragon" - aside from the first part - and "Grail" both fit between books 2 & 3 of "Arthur")
In this great conflict, the human element strongly comes into the foreground, especially the twin roles of the bard Merlin, and the king Arthur. The first point of view heightens the readers understanding of Merlin's role in this conflict. Lawhead's treatment of Merlin is profound, and particularly outstanding in my mind is one passage where Merlin comes to realize that "in order to welcome redemption, one must first embrace the utter hopelessness of failure. For how can a man look for rescue unless he knows he is truly lost?" (p.69) - a wonderful metaphor of salvation for lost sinners. Equally outstanding is Merlin's journey to the other-world, where Lawhead uses a profound sequence of events to bring Merlin to understand his role in the great conflict over against evil.
Also profound is Lawhead's treatment of Arthur. The last third of the book in my view is a climactic masterpiece, and after being entranced by the last section of the novel, Lawhead's weaknesses in the first half of the book were quickly forgiven and forgotten. Arthur's role in the struggle against the enemies of the people is central: as leader and king he must fight on behalf of his people. In an absolutely unforgettable climax, the whole weight of his people's hopes depend on him, as Arthur himself must single-handedly take on the leader of the barbarians in a battle to the death. The imagery will not be lost on you, as Arthur makes a distinctly Messianic figure, bruised for his people, a Christ-like king giving his everything for his people at the risk of his own life.
Yes, "Pendragon" has weaknesses. Does this make "Pendragon" a failure? If you were not forewarned, you would likely be disappointed. Even if you are forewarned, you may still be disappointed with the first half of the book because it lacks Lawhead's typical depth and drama. But in the last half of the book Lawhead more than redeems himself with a captivating narrative that you won't be able to put down, and will in the end leave you breathless at its sparkling imagery and depth, and eagerly grabbing the next volume in the series.
5.0 out of 5 stars quality stuff,
This review is from: Pendragon: Book Four of the Pendragon Cycle (Mass Market Paperback)A wonderful book, which Lawhead says should be read between the second and third books of Arthur . . . It is very powerful to me that Lawhead's characters see their own weaknesses so clearly.
1.0 out of 5 stars Lawhead continues to mess up the original Arthurian tales,
By A Customer
This review is from: Pendragon: Book Four of the Pendragon Cycle (Mass Market Paperback)I was very disappointed with this book. I, too, noticed that Cai's green eyes had made a sudden shift to blue, but since his eyes are only mentioned once, this is easy to miss. At one point in the book, Lawhead states that Arthur's warriors "plight their troth" to Arthur. Well, Lawhead should look this up in the dictionary--the way he used it is very confusing, because to "plight one's troth" has the primary meaning of getting engaged to someone in order to marry them. Not until I got to the third meaning in my dictionary did it state "to swear an oath of allegiance". Gwenhyvar never had a chance, I guess--Arthur had married his generals. :)
The legend that concerns Twrch Trwyth is actually the story of Culhwch and Olwen. Culhwch wants to marry Olwen, but before he can do so, he must fulfill a series of quests put upon him by Olwen's father. One is to kill the boar Twrch Trwyth (whose name I was unable to find a meaning for) and get the comb and razor from between the great boar's ears. This boar just so happens to be a king who ticked off God and, Quite literally, was turned into a boar, and all of his household and followers were turned into piglets. Arthur is not the main character in this story, he has sort of been just stuck in, because all he really does is assist Culhwch in his various tasks (along with another character, Mabon, who happens to be a Celtic god). The chase of the hunt for Twrch Trwyth starts in Ireland, but ends up in South Wales and Cornwall--not Scotland. Arthur does not get so severely injured that he needs to be healed with the Grail, either--in fact, this tale is an oddity in the Arthurian mythos because it has absolutely nothing to do with the Grail, or any of the other stories in the Arthurian legend.
Lawhead also employs a very odd narrative technique here, one that ended up irritating rather than helping. In the middle of the battle, Merlin suddenly goes racing off, and of course the reader is forced to follow him because he's the narrator. This was very annoying, because then the reader is left wondering what is happening with the battle while Merlin goes off investigating the plague. It would have been far better to have someone else narrating this part of the book, like Bedwyr or Cai, so that Merlin's racing off doesn't produce such a weird break in the action, and when he came back he could tell them all about the plague. Even though Merlin does eventually return, and finds out nothing has happened since he was gone (?!), this has still got to be one of the worst ways to write a book.
Oddly enough, the plague is supposed to be this big huge menace, but it gets very short shrift in this book. I suppose the reason for this is that the plague problem will be dealt with in Grail.
Gwenhyvar--well, we get more background on her, but still no explanation of why she's got a Welsh name and she's Irish. In the original Arthurian myths, she is Welsh, so the name makes sense there, but not in Lawhead's book.
I am still completely mystified as to why Charis is called The Lady of the Lake. At least we get to see now the connection between Avallach and the Grail, and that "The Fisher King" is not just a title, but that he really does have a connection to the Grail like the Arthurian Fisher King did.
Llenlleawg--it should have been pointed out earlier that he was supposed to be Lancelot. All through Arthur I thought Lot was Lancelot, because Lancelot is the only knight who falls out of Arthur's favor. While it was briefly mentioned in this book, it still should have been done earlier.
Also, after swearing off fighting because of the loss of Ganieda, why does Merlin pick up a sword again? In Merlin he is committed to helping the Summer Kingdom come to fruitition, but not through fighting! Suddenly he picks up a sword again, forgetting all about his lost love and his unborn child that was killed, and goes off fighting again! His vision is restored fairly quickly after he lost it--how is it that Aneirin, the narrator in the last section of Arthur, still thought he was blind? This section picks up many years after Pendragon--something like 5-10 at least, maybe even more than that.
There are a lot of mistakes and inconsistencies in this book. I really dislike this kind of sloppy writing, and "rewriting because I feel like it" is not a good enough reason to me to be severely altering the Arthurian stories, which are good enough in their own right.
4.0 out of 5 stars Gets better with each reading,
This review is from: Pendragon: Book Four of the Pendragon Cycle (Mass Market Paperback)I just finished reading Pendragon for the third or fourth time and enjoyed the book this reading more than any other. As I age, I enjoy different aspects of Lawhead's books with each reading and Pendragon was no different. Many ancient traditions of oaths, fealty, and faith are made present to the reader through the story and characters of Pendragon. In this way the reader comes in contact with holy ideas long forgotten in our present age. I love the characters and this story was one more adventure with those I love like Arthur, Gwenhwyvar, Cai, Bedwyr, Lleanlleawg, and Merlin. Merlin is such a tragic and triumphant character! Read this book, it is well worth the journey. One more thing, one of the other reviewers claims that Merlin recognizes Arthur as the Summer Lord several times in Pendragon, when it is Avallach in Arthur who recognizes Arthur. I read Pendragon, specifically looking for this fault, but I never found it. It is true that Merlin doesn't recognize Arthur in Part 1 of Pendragon, but this takes place chronologically before Avallach recognizes Arthur in the book Arthur. Thus, as far as I can tell, there is no discrepancy. This reviewer may be mistaken.
3.0 out of 5 stars A little disappointing.,
By A Customer
This review is from: Pendragon: Book Four of the Pendragon Cycle (Mass Market Paperback)After the first three books, I expected much more from Pendragon. The first three told an enchanting story through several generations. This one, as near as I can tell, takes place between sections 2 and 3 of "Arthur." The main battle seems to be the same as the final battle in book three; did Arthur go through the same thing twice with two different enemies? The ending (with Arthur being taken away to be healed) is almost the same as in the previous book, and since it takes place before the ending of "Arthur" we are no closer to having that book's ending explained. I'm hoping "Grail" clears a few of these things up, otherwise Lawhead would have done much better leaving it off as a trilogy.
2.0 out of 5 stars A let down.,
By A Customer
This review is from: Pendragon: Book Four of the Pendragon Cycle (Mass Market Paperback)Much of this book was merely a retelling of what happened in Arthur. It's major virtue is that it helps clear up the end of the last one.
3.0 out of 5 stars Deceiving, when compared to the 3 first.,
By A Customer
This review is from: Pendragon: Book Four of the Pendragon Cycle (Mass Market Paperback)First of all, one should notice that in the 3 first books, there is an evolution in the world created by Lawhead (in religion especially, and in culture too) that makes place for new things to happen. Pendragon is barely a remixt of the past two books, with the difference that the foe, instead of being plenty (Saecsens, picts, irish, scots...), are only two, the Vandali and the plague, but they are more powerful. Also, as noted in a previous review, it includes a bunch of contradictions. I believe Merlin finally discovered for sure that Arthur was the King three or four times in the book! For readers of the original trilogy, I remind that it is Avallach who identified Arthur as the King. You may read the book, but don't set your hopes too high, or you'll be deceived.
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as expected.,
This review is from: Pendragon: Book Four of the Pendragon Cycle (Mass Market Paperback)"Trifles," as Michaelangelo once put it, "make perfection. And perfection is no trifle." This book tells a good story, but there are many discrepancies--"trifles" if you will--that make it almost irksome. Lawhead demonstrated clearly, for example, in "Arthur" that Cai's eyes were emerald green, and then in this book as well as "Grail" spends his descriptions of Cai convincing us he is blue-eyed. This may seem a trifle, but this is one example of many pieces that do not fit together. The original trilogy was a beautiful work of art before he decided to add "Pendragon" and "Grail."
5.0 out of 5 stars Lawhead did it again!,
By A Customer
This review is from: Pendragon: Book Four of the Pendragon Cycle (Mass Market Paperback)Pendragon, the fouth in the Pendragon cycle, is another tale of Arthur, Merlin and their companions. It focuses on the invasion of the Vandals, and the plague that accompanies it. The story is not overall super-happy, but it is a realistic tale of how victory is hard-earned, and some enemies are just too tough to take on ourselves. It has moments that will make you weep, and others that will have you dying with laughter (especially the marriage of Arthur & Gwehnyvar, and Merlin's reaction!) I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys Arthurian legend and early Celtic history.
5.0 out of 5 stars Really good book,
This review is from: Pendragon: Book Four of the Pendragon Cycle (Mass Market Paperback)This book concentrates on Merlin's travel to the otherworld when he is separated from Arthur. Make sure to read Merlin and Arthur before reading this book because Ganieda and Pelleas are in this book as well. This book should be reserved for those who have bought the other three (Tailisian Merlin and Arthur) because there are events(dreams) that refer to the previous books. Buy any book that has Steven Lawhead as the author. You will be satified with the results
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Pendragon: Book Four of the Pendragon Cycle by Stephen Lawhead (Mass Market Paperback - Sept. 1 1995)
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