A couple weeks ago I finished Pendragon’s Heir by Suzannah Rowntree, and wow—if you haven’t read this book, you should seriously think about it. It is legend and adventure with a splash of honest, unsentimental romance.
Synopsis: Blanche Pendragon enjoys her undemanding life as the ward of an eccentric nobleman in 1900’s England. It’s been years since she wondered what happened to her long lost parents, but then a gift on the night of her eighteenth birthday reveals a heritage more dangerous and awe-inspiring than she ever dreamed of—or wanted. Soon Blanche is flung into a world of wayfaring immortals, daring knights, and deadly combats, with a murderous witch-queen on her trail and the future of a kingdom at stake. As the legendary King Arthur Pendragon and his warriors face enemies without and treachery within, Blanche discovers a secret that could destroy the whole realm of Logres. Even if the kingdom could be saved, is she the one to do it? Or is someone else the Pendragon’s Heir?
In the first place, I loved this book because I love a good adventure story, and that is what Suzannah Rowntree delivered. It’s one of those stories where you feel like you are on the cusp of a great adventure and you’ll never be the same after. This book took the old Arthurian legends I knew and stayed true to them, while at the same time keeping me on the edge of my seat, wondering what was going to happen next.
The setting was fantastic. From 1900s England to Logres to the wilds of Arthurian England, I felt like I was there, and not once was I pulled out of the story by an out-of-place detail.
I loved the vividness of the characters. Perceval was my favorite by far. At first I was not sure whom I liked the best, but by the last third or so, it was without a doubt him. He was impetuous, yes, but he had a good heart, and was a realistic fellow that you loved despite his faults.
Blanche had a fantastic character arc, in my opinion. She started the book as a sympathetic character with some flaws, of course, but they were not glaring ones. Over the course of the book, you see her drop selfishness that you didn’t even know was there until you see the new Blanchefleur emerging from the old, and you watch her become a brave and considerate young woman.
Simon Corbin was really cool. I’ll leave it at that. If you don’t know why, then please, read the book.
As far as I can remember, there were only a couple sensitive things in the book; the first was the use of magic by the antagonists. This, frankly, did not bother me, since it was basically just following the legends, and it was definitely not portrayed as a good thing. The second was the storyline of Lancelot and Guinevere, and Guinevere’s faithfulness was questioned throughout a portion of the book. I feel that the author handled this very well, however, and brought it to a good conclusion.
I felt that the middle dragged some. Blanchefleur is in one place and Perceval is traveling old-legend-style about the countryside, jousting and coming to adventures. It was not a boring sort of dragging, but I did feel perhaps like the plot was not driving forward the way it did at the beginning and the end.
The end was incredible. It sucked me in and I was caught until I had finished the book. I have to say, Suzannah concluded the book in the best way I’ve ever seen these tales concluded, hands down, and for once I did not walk away from them downhearted. There is hope and rightness in the end, and that is as much as I dare say about it.
Altogether the book was very clean and tight and easy to read. I would recommend caution for younger readers due to the discussion of infidelity in the book.
Have you read Pendragon’s Heir? Do you intend to? What do you think of it?