Title: The Greenwood and the Grail
Series: The Arthur Quartet: Book Three
Author: Harper Fox
Length: 160 Pages
Category: Historical Fantasy
At a Glance: Fans of Arthurian legend, mythology, ancient and mystic prophesy, and a world that allows you the luxury of floating through it, questioning the existence and immaterialism of that existence, Harper Fox writes that scape with a deft hand.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: Driven apart by merciless currents of fate, Arthur and Lance soon find out how much colder the world is to each of them without the other’s love. And Arthur has a fight for the kingdom on his hands, not to mention his struggle to make sense of his marriage to Queen Guenyvre.
For Lance, the loss of his king is too much. On the journey to Camelet, his inner demons overtake him – demons that flourish in the lonely moorland nights, and drive him into the trackless wastes of the Forest Wild.
But the Forest is a place of healing as well as madness and grief. After a battle that costs him his dearest blood, Arthur too takes refuge there.
Can the ancient magic of the Greenwood restore Lance and Arthur to their rightful companionship? With Lance at his side, will Arthur begin to understand his destiny as Britannia’s once and future king?
Review: At the risk of repeating myself… repeatedly… Harper Fox tells a story in such a way that, at least in my experience, few authors can imitate. Her prose is at times poetic, always aesthetic, and there’s a certain flair and nuance to her storytelling in this series that often feels as though one is traveling through a dreamscape of the author’s imagination. The Greenwood and the Grail introduces readers to the fine line between what is reality, within the framework of this world, and what is fantasy in a mystic forest where it is always summer, and madness and magic coexist.
As this is essentially Arthurian fanfic, it seems Fox takes some liberties with her characters, one of whom is the kitchen boy Percy. He is integral to Lance’s survival in this installment, heroic in his self-sworn duty to coax Lance back from a bout of madness, and is later dubbed Sir Parzival, knight of King Arthur. Percy is a character I took an immediate interest in and liking to as he acts as protector to all who call upon him, and I hope to see more of him in the next and final book of the quartet. There is still the quest for the Grail to fulfill, after all, which Sir Parzival will be a part of, and knowing this author’s gift for offering up the unexpected, the Grail may be a what but could also be a who for all I know at this point; there’s just that much mystery and mysticism in the series that keeps it from being a stale retelling of the familiar. Another character with an interesting role in the series is Merlin and his relationship to Arthur, which I don’t want to divulge the details of, but suffice to say the wizard is bewitching.
Separated at the end of the last book, Lance believing that he’s lost Arthur forever, there’s a deep sense of pathos looming over the story, even after the two men find their way back to each other in the Greenwood. There are truths and consequences to be faced as both men heal, physically and emotionally, and their love and passion for each other is solidified into a solemn promise never to part again. This throws an interesting twist into Arthur’s marriage to Queen Guenyvre and his duty to produce an heir, as well as Lance’s relationship with Guen, and I’m anxious to see how Fox resolves this relationship. I love Fox’s interpretation of Guen and hope that she finds a place with both men as the legend continues to unfold.
The sword Excalibur and the Lady of the Lake figure prominently in this story, as one would expect, but there’s an unexpected turn of events here too—at least for me—that I’m anxious to see play out. Arthur is known as the Once and Future King, but is there a duality to his reign as King of the Britons that includes Lance? Or perhaps a triality which also includes Guen? One which his legend would not have achieved without them? It’s all such a mystery at this point, and the Lady of the Lake has offered a boon to Arthur and Lance that will allow them to fortify their bond before returning to the winter of parallel reality. There is also a great and terrible loss in The Greenwood and the Grail that adds an extra heart-wrenching touch to the story, one which was the catalyst for Arthur’s split from ‘reality’ when he entered the forest—without putting too geeky a point on it, the symbolic place of the unconscious, the place if trials and initiation, the dwelling place of spirits, and the womb of the world—which adds to the dreamlike quality of the story.
Fans of Arthurian legend, mythology, ancient and mystic prophesy, and a world that allows you the luxury of floating through it, questioning the existence and immaterialism of that existence, Harper Fox writes that scape with a deft hand.
You can buy The Greenwood and the Grail here:
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