I hate writing negative reviews. I don’t ever want to turn someone off reading a book or series – just because something didn’t work for me, doesn’t mean it won’t work for someone else. This series did not work for me. At all. But I seem to be in the minority. On Goodreads, Henge and Sword get a LOT of love. I must be missing something important.
Le Fay is a modern retelling of the Arthurian legend. Magic is both controlled and mistrusted. The King is served by the best magicians in the Kingdom, as his knights and his advisors.
Morgan le Fay has fire magic. She can create and control fire; in her hands it is both powerful and deadly. She wants to use her abilities for the good of the Kingdom. She has dreamed of being Maven, the right hand of the future king, Arthur, since she was a young child. She competes and is selected to join Arthur’s Round, an elite group of young magic users from which the new Maven will be chosen.
Trained and tested along with the other outstanding magicians of her generation, she is one of the top students. The new Maven will stand at the future King’s side for his entire reign, so while magical power is essential, so is diplomacy and political savvy. Morgan wants to serve, and she wants to see magic returned to its exalted status. But all does not go as planned.
I LOVE the Arthurian legend. LOVE it. So when I heard about this series, I was so excited. There could be so much to love. But no. Just … NO. While the first book was good enough to grab my attention, the second punished me for it.
Morgan, the central figure in the series, was my greatest disappointment. She could have been great. She has so much potential as a character, she is a central figure in the original legend. And while she starts off in the first book as a strong-willed, focused girl, intent on serving the Kingdom, she makes one disastrous decision after another, and none of them make sense. NONE.
Her behaviour with her classmates is erratic. She suspects plots against the Crown, she herself is attacked, but she keeps her mouth shut.
She has a vision about her future, and can make no sense of it. She was warned this would happen, that what the candidates see is not always going to be a clear message for them, and needs to be studied and interpreted. So does she tell the examiners what she sees? Of course not. She tells them of a vision she had as a child.
If you are sworn to protect the King, and you learn of a plot to assassinate him, don’t you at least tell someone? Or do you kidnap him and run away? What personal strength and morality she displays in the first book is completely lost in the second; if she truly wanted to serve the King and Kingdom, she would get off her a** and do it. Instead, she spends the first part of the book pouting, and the rest making horrible choices and refusing to speak up for herself, and there is no reason for it, other than ego.
And the incident with Lancelot near the end of the second book? Shoot me now. Where did that scene come from?!?!?
Arthur is interesting, and in many ways true to the legend (minus the petulant video-game obsessed stage he goes through). He is a tortured, young, unsure of who he is and what he wants. Although he does find himself, the reader is left with the feeling of instability. He equally fears and respects Morgan.
Merlin is also fairly close to the Merlin we know. He is difficult to read, powerful, and political. He kept me on my toes throughout both books, always wondering what side he would take. I found him totally unlikeable, which is fine, at first. But in the second book, his behaviour and interactions with Morgan stop making sense. And it ends with me still unsure of his intentions and loyalties.
All the other characters were unpredictable and I had to keep rereading parts to make sure I had the right person in my mind for various scenes.
The book really fell apart for me with the modern setting, which I initially thought could be fabulous. But it just does not work. The magic and the history and knights and even Camelot itself evoke too many images, and the modern conveniences of texting and trains and cars seemed thrown in and forced, as if the author was not sure how to fit her ideas on the page.
I don’t know if there is going to be a third book, but if there is, I think I’ll pass. But if anyone reads this series and can explain to me what I so obviously missed, I would appreciate it.
Henge was published November 11th, 2014, and Sword on November 10th, 2015.