I hate Arthurian fantasy. Why? Because I love Camelot. Go read Le Morte de Arthur. Read Alfred Lord Tennyson’s Idylls of the King. Read T.H. White’s The Once and Future King. And you’re done; everything since has been a King-Arthur-with-a-twist or a flat-out deconstruction. Don’t get me started on the movies.
So imagine my surprise when I got sucked into an Arthurian-like epic that takes place in a Welsh-Briton setting. Perhaps that was the point; although it was clearly drawn from the Arthurian epic cycle, it wasn’t Arthur’s Camelot–it was imperiled but not doomed. Even more interesting, the story began at the end of the cycle: it began with the narrator telling us of Glastyn the Wizard’s disappearance.
“He left behind him: a whimsical, inconsistent king; an order of jaded, disillusioned knights; and a realm slipping slowly back into the chaos from which he, Glastyn, had rescued it some fifty years before.”
Celydonn’s Merlin had disappeared into his tree (or wherever). Now what? The books are about the now what. It could be read as Camelot: The Next Generation–the heroes who fight to save Celydonn from collapsing “back into chaos” are the young knights and squires of the court, aided by Glastyn’s mousy and disregarded apprentice, Teleri.
There are six books in the series (which is really two trilogies). Just how good are they? I actually stumbled across the second book first, in a truck-stop of all places. A passenger on a road-trip, I was desperate for reading material and The Moon In Hiding was the only fantasy title on the rack.
That’s right; I started with the second book in the set. And even realizing right off that I wasn’t starting at the beginning and had missed a whole boatload of backstory, I was hooked. Teresa Edgerton’s prose is luxurious, lush, deeply descriptive, bordering at times on poetic–perfect for the heroic, mythic setting of the stories. She spends five paragraphs describing Teleri ni Pendarin, for example. They are not boring paragraphs.
When I got home I hunted the first book down, then waited impatiently as the rest came out one by one. Today they are out of print. Fortunately you can find them all through Amazon.com, along with Edgerton’s other excellent titles (I particularly recommend Goblin Moon). The chronicles of Celydonn are heroic fantasy at its finest.
(Note: the first three books, Child of Saturn, The Moon in Hiding, and The Work of The Sun, form The Green Lion Trilogy)