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The Forever King


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Cochran and Murphy's ( Grandmaster ) new novel melds two plots, one taking place in Arthurian England, where the evil knight Saladin is trying to gain possession of the Holy Grail and make himself immortal, and the other set in the modern world, where the evil knight Saladin, now a mental patient, is again seeking the Grail and immortality. is trying to gain posses sion of the Holy Grail and thus become immortal. The Arthurian section is well written, with some clever new twists on familiar characters, especially Merlin and Nimue. Rather than echoing the conventional portrayal of Nimue as a scheming enchantress who bespells and traps Merlin, the authors depict her as a naive young waif who becomes the wizard's adopted daughter and helps him foil Saladin's plans. But the chapters set in modern times, where Arthur is reincarnated as a 10-year-old boy, are embarrassingly trite, with two-dimensional characters who spout dialogue that would be considered cliched in a made-for-TV movie. There is always room in the fantasy genre for a good new Arthurian novel. This, unfortunately, is not it. (July)

YA-- An unusual, creative intertwining of 20th-century adventure with Arthurian legend. Hal, an alcoholic, retired FBI agent (Sir Galahad) must protect ten-year-old Arthur Blessing (King Arthur) and the powerful Holy Grail from the madman Saladin (himself). Help comes from Mr. Taliesin (Merlin) and Excalibur. As the story unfolds, readers move rapidly back and forth through the centuries to numerous settings; it is necessary, but not too difficult, to remember where and when a character was last seen. Although everything is explained, some prior knowledge of the Arthurian romances is helpful. Characterization is especially well done. There are sharp contrasts between the good and evil individuals while maintaining the duality of traits required since each character is actually two people in one. Teens should not be disheartened by the age of young Arthur. He is mature, and his age is easy to forget. A fun romp through history.-- Claudia Moore, W. T. Woodson High Sch . , Fairfax, VA

This suspense-filled, action-laden novel supplies a fresh perspective on the King Arthur legend, deftly weaving historical facts together with a large amount of fun and imagination. The authors make knowledgeable use of settings ranging from a Manhattan game show to the birthplace of civilization along the Nile (with many segues in time in between). Their likable characters include an ex-FBI agent, a 10-year-old boy, a timeless Merlin the Magician, and a dark but still very human villain who literally walks the face of the earth. Cochran wrote the screenplay for the film Lethal Weapon II and collaborated with Murphy on the fantasy-thriller Grandmaster (Windsor Pubns., 1988). Highly recommended for escapist reading. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 3/1/92.-- Marlene McCormack-Lee, Drain Branch Lib . , Roseburg, Ore.

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