Wednesday, 6 October 1999

Victor Canning: The Circle of the Gods (1977)

Edition: Heinemann
Review number: 351

The second of Canning's Arthurian trilogy tells the story of Arthur's growing up, until his twenties and early fame as a war leader. The traditional story is pretty much ignored, with only the odd character whose name suggests the standard legends. (Instead of Lancelot, for example, we have a character named Lancelo.)

The simplicity of the plot of The Circle of the Gods - the title comes from the name used by Canning for Stonehenge - brings improvements with it over the first book of the trilogy. Canning is clearly more comfortable with a fairly straightforward description of action, and the descent into bad poetry which marred The Crimson Chalice is mercifully absent.

Nevertheless, characters remain two-dimensional and the fifth century background incidental.

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