After finishing book 1 of The Du Lac Chronicles, I wondered what was going to happen in book 2, as it did seem like the Du Lac brothers had a penchant for intrigue; for the wherewithal to survive in a world filled with enemies, and there was so much more to be told. Even with those high expectations, I could not begin to imagine or expect the sheer magnitude of intrigue and survival wherewithal that is encountered in The Du Lac Devil. The author has crafted a powerfully emotional tale set in post-Roman, post-Arthurian times; a time of upheaval as Saxon, Briton and Frank seek to enlarge their kingdoms; or, just to maintain what they have. Populated with fascinating characters; enough emotional turmoil and plot twists to have this humble scribe stop reading occasionally to catch his breath and exclaim, “Whoa, didn’t see that coming.” I was left with a bewildering sense of loss; of sadness, as the book moved to the rather traumatic ending, but also with a feeling of hope – there’s more to come in this mesmerizing saga.
First, a confession; my only exposure to the famous ballad, The Lady of Shalott by Alfred Lord Tennyson, is the musical adaptation by Loreena McKennitt. Perhaps I once had to read it for a class in school, but since my reading preference has always been prose, it wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility that I have simply forgotten. Anyroad, this adaptation takes the Arthurian legend and adds the author’s own personal touch; an adaptation that, while remaining true to the original’s basic story line, is reminiscent of the science fiction episodes I used to watch on Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone. The progression of The Lady through the various stages of her existence, and the descriptions of the eras in which she awakes are masterfully told by the author. The inner turmoil of The Lady, as she struggles with the Mirror to gain access to the people she comes in contact with, drives the tale as the Mirror cautions her time and again about the dangers involved. The conclusion of the tale, though a heart rending scene, is also one of hope as The Lady finally finds out who she is. Kudos to the author for a most interesting slant on this well known ballad. 4.7 stars
Alden Du Lac lost his kingdom to the ever ambitious Saxon, Cerdic and is about to lose his life. Enter Cerdic’s daughter, Annis and thus we are thrust into a powerful story of loss, betrayal, torment, and above all, the love that sees them through. Annis is young and inexperienced having been sheltered and basically ignored, by her father. Alden, a son of Lancelot, is/was a king and is haunted by what he feels is his betrayal to his people. Book one of this series, follows them on an uncertain, tortuous path, firstly to escape the wrath of Cerdic and eventually to prepare to confront him. I found myself immersed in the time and place as the author skillfully interlaces an emotion filled love story with the the actions of ruthless and ambitious men, and the history of Cornwall. I love a good Arthurian tale, and while he is already dead at the time of this one, I welcomed this ‘it could have happened this way’ take on the aftermath of his demise, and am looking forward to book two. 4.3 stars