Taliesin, the first book in prolific author Stephen Lawhead’s Pendragon Cycle begins years before the more familiar time of Arthur. It also manages to combine two of my favourite things: Greek style mythology and Celtic mythology. How, you wonder? That you’ll have to find out for yourself but odd as it sounds, Lawhead manages to sew these two storylines together with flawless and sometimes biblical style prose.
I chose this booking knowing that I had enjoyed some of Lawhead’s later work, the Raven Chronicles, which retell the legend of Robin Hood so I approached Taliesin with high expectations. They were fulfilled. Some of you may remember that the last book I reviewed, The Pagan Lord, claimed to contain the best battle scenes however I have to say that Lawhead’s battles were much better, the detail sharp, the execution precise and overall, the battle scenes drew you as the reader in to an extent that I rarely experience.
The plot follows two characters, the Atlantean woman Charis and the Welsh foundling boy Taliesin from childhood to adulthood. Through these characters one gets a sense of the events in motion which ultimately lead to the need for Arthur as High King of Britain. The story, although beautifully told, with strong, intriguing characters and a great depth of worldbuilding, is almost entirely exposition. There is no mention of Arthur at all and even Merlin is a childish footnote at the end. Although entertaining, this book is perhaps not entirely necessary in the series but it does serve to set Lawhead’s saga apart from other retellings of this well known legend.
Overall rating: 8/10 – definitely worth the read and I really enjoyed the obviously well researched glimpse of Atlantis.