This story has a highly interesting premise: the King Arthur legend, but retold with a gender switch – Arti is a girl, just discovering her mythical role – and the magical power of words, of books rather than the sword, being the weapons of destruction, control and freedom. Should literacy be for all (the good guys, Arti and her round table of mixed-gender knights)? Or for just the few, to control and blinker the masses (The bad guys, Morgan Fay and her evil son Mordred)? Plus there is modern technology: wicked Morgan’s mantra is “a picture is worth a thousand words;” readers are hunted down and executed mercilessly, scribes even more so, and the masses are all obliged to carry their wee screens with them at all times, so Big Sister Morgan both knows where they are and controls their thoughts.
To me, this is a story with masses of potential and could have had a lot to say, but it was disappointing. Maybe even more disappointing because expectations were high. The style is lively but superficial. The pacing is poorly handled: suspense is never built effectively. The characters hint at interest and depth, but never get there: they remain one-dimensional.
Maybe a very young readership would enjoy this, but it lacks the texture, depth and power to engage a more sophisticated audience.
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What Works And Why?
We read to escape, enjoy, engage, and find out more about our world. So reading is great - but what makes a great read? A page dedicated to short analyses of how writers engage readers.