I'm currently behind on reviews, so don't be surprised if the recent reviews are a bit sparse.


Cover of Spear.

Lots of fun – an “anti-monarchical Arthurian fantasy”, Jo Walton called it. A queer Arthur reimagined by an author who knows her Arthur to the point of making puns in Old Welsh to make the story work. The author’s notes alone bumped this book up to a 4/5. Not that it’s bad otherwise – excellent fluid narration, strong vibes (especially re: nature!), and who doesn’t want a gender-bent Parcival?

Lovely little story, glad I read it.

Plot summary

Beware: full spoilers! Also probably incomplete and possibly incomprehensible.

The protagonist, Dawnged, grows up with her mother in a cave, both clearly with superhuman attributes from old legends. She runs wild, very Ronia-like, and has to learn about humans and names from hiding and listening hin, very Grendel-like. Also clearly into women. She dreams of fighting as a knight, and saves a bunch of them from a bandit attack, mostly-unseen, and then listens to them (Llanza and Bedwyr) talk about Myrddyn and Artos. Hearing of the king makes her want nothing more than to become one of his knights.

As goodbye gift, her mother gives her the name Peretur (an old form of Parcival). Peretur defends a woman against Cei, one of Artos’s highest knights. Bedwyr tells her to do enough heroic things to have a chance at court anyways, and so she does, saving people and defeating the black knight (with just a tad of magic) and so on. She leaves the people she defeats with farmers as workers, and finally gathers them all to the court. Peretur is asked after her origins and finds herself unable to answer, by geas.

She meets Nimue: “You’re Nimuë. You drowned the king’s sorcerer. And I’ve been looking for your lake all my life.” Myrddyn used to draw from her strength, and when she figured that out, she made him sleep forever in a cave under her lake. Turns out Peretur’s mother is Myrddyns sister, and Artos is wary of her due to her resemblance and odd vibe.

Artos’s sword, Peretur’s spear, her mother’s cup and the Stone at the lake are the four big treasures of the Tuath Dé. Artos is relying on/addicted to his sword. There’s a bunch of back-and-forth with Nimue, who has a hard time trusting her (but of course, finally, they make out). Peretur starts training with the knights. Nearly defeats Llanza.

Her mother’s older brother finds her trail through Peretur’s unwise casting, and she, Llanza and Nimue set out to protect her mother, with Artos’s agreement (as Lord Peretur). Oh, also, it turns out that there are no children to the royal couple because Gwenhwyfar can’t conceive – and they know this, because they are a triad with Llanza. Cute! Llanza, btw, has a bastard named Galath in this valley, huh. He is getting raised by monks to perfection, and Llanza, with his many imperfections, doesn’t want him to know the truth. Similarly, Artos also has a bastard, Medrawd,

Peretur defeats Manadan after he kills her mother. They heal the critically wounded Nimue with the cup, but then put it away forever, instead of taking it to Gwenhwyfar. Myrddyn dies after his last power source, his sister, is dead. Nimue and Peretur are happy together.