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Warriors of Camlann

Style: Average

Attitude: Take Care

Cover of Warriors of Camlann

Author: N.M. Browne

Series: Warriors of Alavna

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Published in: 2003

Age Range: Young Teens

Period: Dark Ages

Setting: Britain in the Dark Ages

Genres:  AdventureArthurianHistoricalMagicTime-Travel


Characters:

  • Dan is a schoolboy who has been transported back in time and has become an heroic warrior.
  • Ursula, picked on at school, becomes a fierce magician-warrior when transported back in time.
  • Rhonwen is a sorceress who hates Ursula for having bested her in a previous encounter.
  • Bryn is a young Cambrogi who is fiercely loyal to Dan, whose squire he is.

Synopsis:

Dan & Ursula have just escaped from Roman Britain and find themselves in Arthurian Britain a few centuries later. Ursula has lost the magic power she possessed and Dan is no longer a Berserker, but both are still fierce warriors.

They become involved with Arthur, leader of a war-host which is holding back the Aenglisc who are threatening to overrun the country. Along with Taliesin who has also travelled forward, and who takes the role of the druid Merlin, and Dan's young squire Bryn who came forward with them, they support Arthur in battle and in his political manoeuvring.

Notes:

Literary Quality: You really need to have read Warriors of Alavna to understand a certain amount of this book, especially at the start. Once you've sorted things out, the book moves forward, but sluggishly. The children's characters are quite solid, although a certain amount of their thought is dominated by the mechanics of the (magical) change they have just undergone from AD75 to this time several centuries later. It's not made clear why the children retain certain qualities, and acquire some, but lose others. While over-specification of magical abilities is often a bad thing, in this case the lack of information gives their abilities the appearance of being a convenient plot-device.

In this story, Dan & Ursula are truly immersed in the place and time in which they find themselves, rather than remaining disinterested observers. This gives their characters much greater weight than is the case in the alternative convention of having the children stay apart and only interfere occasionally, and even by accident. Given that, it's easier to swallow the odd mixture in the characters of modern teenagers wanting to get home, and hardened and legendary warriors of almost supernatural prowess.

Rendering what would be Old English into modern English is always a slightly open question. But conventionally, one specifically avoids modern-day expressions, such as Taliesin saying “What you've got, this empathy thing...”.

King Arthur: The Arthurian side of things is pretty run-of-the-mill: Arthur as War Duke aided by more-or-less magical druid accomplice who gains the name Merlin; wife called Gwynefa, best friend called Larcius. If you've ever read any other novel based on Arthurian characters, this one won't surprise you much.

Magic: The magic which takes the characters through The Veil is of a definitely pagan flavour, and without much explanation. There is not too much of it in this book, not least because Ursula is without such power as she once had. At various points, certain of the characters, including Dan & Ursula, employ some mystic technique to allow their soul to leave their body in the form of a bird.

Modesty & Decency: Larcius — the Lancelot of this book — is something of a womaniser and he and Gwynefa, Arthur's wife, are fairly openly lovers.

Loyalty & Friendship: Bryn, Dan's young squire from an earlier age, follows Dan & Ursula forward to Arthur's time and remains fiercely loyal to him. Dan & Ursula, also, are closely united although not considering themselves in love until quite late on.

It was a strange feeling for a twenty-first-century schoolgirl to know that five hundered heavy cavalry and their leader depended on her. She did not need Dan's gift to know they did — it was simple fact and she could not, would not let them down.

She wondered if Dan had found Bryn and if they could help Taliesin. She pushed that worry from her mind. She had to trust Dan. She crept into the inn with its now familiar smell of grease, wood smoke, and hops. She thought that with so much to think about it would be hard to sleep. It was not

Monday 4th August 2003