Mordred, Bastard Son Paperback – Feb 1 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Though usually portrayed as the worm in the bud that was Camelot, Mordred, the illegitimate offspring of King Arthur and sorceress Morgan le Fay, gets sympathetic treatment in Clegg's revisionist Arthurian fantasy, the first in a projected trilogy. Born into exile on the Isle of Glass, the young Mordred knows his father only through the stories bitter elders tell of Arthur's theft of Excalibur from the Lady of the Lake. Mordred flourishes under the instruction of his mother and the wizard Merlin, but he's distracted from his education in druidic mysteries by his adolescent passion for a hermit living in the nearby wilds. That hermit's identity, coupled with a transgression that alienates Mordred from his community by the novel's end, all point to the inexorable destiny that shapes the tale's events and tinges them with pathos. 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. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
*Starred Review* Clegg puts an inspired wrinkle in the hoary tale of Arthur and the grail by casting Arthur's kindred enemy, Mordred, as a gay man. An injured stranger in a cloak and odd, paganish mask, is captured and held in a monastery, igniting wild speculation among the locals, who believe him a notorious traitor. And so he is. He is Mordred, the bastard son of Arthur Pendragon and his half sister, the witch-queen Morgan Le Fay, and he now awaits trial for murder and treason. The young monk tending him is keenly interested in him, and so for a small price, the bastard son unfolds his story. All his life, Mordred has been at the center of powerful drives--his own and those of his mother. Morgan is obsessed with vengeance against Arthur, and Mordred is absolutely devoted to his unbalanced mother. But he is terribly conflicted about his father and wildly, passionately, hopelessly in love with Lancelot. The tale he unfolds culminates in an unholy betrayal of his own magical talent by someone he loved and trusted all his life. This is the riveting first volume in a trilogy. How excellent. Paula Luedtke
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
The book isn't without its challenges. I occasionally found myself questioning why the author chose one direction or another. Overall, however, I found myself captivated and curious about what would follow in the promised trilogy.
I also found it refreshing that Clegg neither glorifies nor villifies his lead character, but allowed Mordred to fumble ahead as a not-so-entirely-innocent victim of the fate that the reader knows is ahead. By challenging some of the roles of the Arthurian legend, the author does come up with a unique take on the tale that I'm sure wil be interesting to any gay reader.
The largest problem with the hardcover version was that several typographic and editing errors seem to have persisted into the published work -- which is a significant annoyance and distraction. There's nothing more jarring when you are trying to immerse yourself and suspend your disbelief (the true pleasure of reading) than having to reread a sentence and perform corrections for the text to make sense! I truly hope this gets corrected in the paperback version.
If you're gay and love fantasy and folklore, you won't want to miss this one. I'm not certain how much broader appeal it will eventually receive. I'd give it 3.5 stars if I could, but am optimistic the series will develop into something very interesting.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The ancient world of Arthurian legend is beautifully brought to life with numerous references to the Old Religion that will be appreciated by neo-Pagan readers. All of the original cast are included, with the addition of the author's special insight and sensitive treatment of the "gay angle". Not just a rewrite of the same old stock literary figures and synopsis, I fell in LOVE with Mordred, the person (not to mention the man he finds romantic passion with, but I won't give that away). The women in the story are healers, leaders, villains...passionate, fully-realised human portrayals of the characters we know from older works but now become believable as sisters, mothers, and priestesses in a world that humans can't always control or understand. One is often reminded that life is a mystery, there are no easy answers for any of us. Gay or straight, we all experience love and loss, pain and joy and ponder what it all means and why we're here at all. The author weaves these eternal themes skillfully into the narrative with generous doses of humour and occasionally profound sorrow.
We'll have to wait for the next book, in the meantime I'll read this one again, perhaps a few times.
Mordred, born bastard and heathen of an incestuous coupling of the bloodline pun-Dragon and the bloodline of the Fay, conceived from the brutal rape of Arthur's half sister Morgan LeFay, will be the instrument of the King's great unmaking, perhaps even the greatest unraveling of all. Fearing for their lives, the pregnant Morgan escapes Tintagel with Merlin, finding sanctity on the Isle of Glass where Mordred is safely born.
From birth, Mordred is sheltered by his aunt Morgause and great aunt Viviane, as they gather around this great son of a King, steadily casting their prayers to "the will of life," offering up to him the blessings from the Great Lady of the Lake. As Mordred grows older, he learns the secrets of the earth and lakes, and trains with Merlin in the Eastern Arts of necromancy and war.
He learns of the elements, the energies of the forest, and the "magick" of the faerie realm that invade the mind through scent and the invisible boundaries existing in the world "unseen by men." It's a bucolic and tempered existence, but Mordred knows he is different: When he becomes physically attracted to his best friend Lukat, Viviane tells him he is like the "soldier-mages," those who love other men, "as some fear in this world who know not of such love."
Mordred is consumed with adolescent sexual urges when one day, at the edge the desolate territory, he spies a wild hermit swimming naked in the Lake of Glass. Little does he know this man is the greatest betrayer; Viviane warns him to say away from this knight, swordsman, and best friend of Arthur. But Mordred ignores them and soon he's caught up in the alchemy of love, a mingling of confusion with flesh and soul.
This hermit, this enigmatic man, once told Arthur of the sacred place beneath the lake, where the sword of Excalibur lay buried in rock. And as Mordred learns more, he falls in love but is deceived into thinking he can live a life unaffected by the machinations of the outside world. For Morgan, dreams of vengeance, and remembers how she was once hunted like a dog by her half brother, who stole the sword and the thrones of the kingdoms from her.
Betrayal also comes in the form of the seemingly loyal the Morgause, who has swallowed a life of servitude to King Lot and to her sons. Now full of vengeful fury she has captured the half soul of her sister, and is intent to battle a King who has been given the sacred tools of the greatest of kings. As Mordred becomes a man, he must deal with his guilt at his crimes of passion, and his longing for the world that had begun to remake itself around him.
Author Douglass Clegg beautifully skewers the Arthurian legends; weaving a compelling story, single handedly reinventing Mordred's sexuality. He is no longer the betrayer, of Arthur, the knight Lancelot, and Guinevere Queen of the Britons; he is now the seductive and passionate hero, given the almost insurmountable task of finding the cauldron of rebirth - the Grail. Arthur is the greatest of all emperors, and Mordred longs to see him, despite the monstrous things he had done to his mother before his birth.
This is a lawless, violent and random world, caught up in ancient superstitions, where the Kings and Druid priests, remember terrors of roman captivity, and call out for Merlin, hoping that the ancient mage might save them from devastation. Those who worshipped the heathen gods have largely gone underground, and those of Christendom have sought sanctuary in the ruins of abbeys, monasteries, nunneries and the Roman villas.
Mordred and his ilk remain tied to the rituals of the sacred midsummer rites, of the men of the tribes and the old ways of his people. But eventually, Mordred must leave the safety of Isle of Glass, for his destiny is predetermined and he is set on a irrevocable path that will become his life.
In this first part of this adventure, our young and heroic prince achieves a type of erotic understanding, arriving from his breaking of the bonds of innocence. Yet as he saves a damsel in distress and witnesses his enemies gathering - in the form of a newly rejuvenated and vengeful Morgause - Mordred realizes that the debts of his life are only just beginning. Mike Leonard May 06.
And now, "Mordred, Bastard Son." Douglas Clegg continues to amaze me with his range, with his ability to step into a completely different writing "niche" and pull it off so well. "Mordred" is the fantasy novel that so many writers aspire to, but so very few reach. This is what fantasy should be: edgy complex characters, riveting action, a world drawn with such feeling, such perfect detail, it makes you feel like you're actually there, and, of course, the ultimate anti-hero.
The only downside is waiting for book two! But don't put off reading book one. If you demand excellent writing, excellent story-telling, "Mordred, Bastard Son" will leave you satisfied.
I have never been a fan of the King Arthur story line. I have tried on many occasions to read tales of the round table but to no avail.
Finally someone has written a unique vision of the time and myth of Camelot.
Mordred, the bastard son of Arthur is a compelling character that in the past has been represented as a demon sissy who in the end destroys Camelot.
Not now! This Mordred is compelling, beautiful and I can hardly wait for the second book.
Keep it up Douglas!