The Cleaving

Angry Robot. Apr. 2023. 384p. ISBN 9781915202222. pap. $15.99. FANTASY
This Arthurian retelling is from the perspective of Nimue, an enchantress disguised as a handmaiden to the queen. The story begins with Arthur’s mother, Ygraine. Nimue unwittingly sees the destruction of Ygraine’s first marriage by Uther with the aid of Merlin, the infamous wizard. Uther forces Ygraine to marry him and bear Arthur to secure his lineage and throne as high king of Britain. Fulfilling his destiny, Arthur creates Camelot and brings along Ygraine and his half-sister Morgana, who serves Arthur until his marriage to Guinevere. Nimue, meanwhile, serves all three women, connecting their stories and perspectives through the years. This retelling gives cause for the women’s choices from the original narrative that many have questioned such as why Morgana tried to kill Arthur and why Guinevere would commit adultery.
VERDICT McKenna (The Green Man’s Gift) tells a compelling new story from an old tale that is timely, giving the women of Arthur’s heroic tale a voice and place in this world. Give to fans of Michael J. Sullivan and David Dalglish who appreciate stories with swordplay, revenge, and medieval adventure.
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