This imaginative and beautifully told fantasy tale, rich with Arthurian lore, lets you finally hear Mordred's side of the age-old story. Nancy Springer is an award-winning author who has published over 30 critically-acclaimed books. This Booklist Top 10 Fantasy Novel showcases her talent for creating convincing characters and conveying their intense emotions. Narrator Steven Crossley will hold you spellbound as he brings young Mordred and his tragic predicament fully to life.
©1998 Nancy Springer; (P)1999 Recorded Books, LLC
I'm the managing editor of the Fantasy Literature blog. Life's too short to read bad books!
Originally posted at FanLit.
Almost all the modern stories derived from Arthurian legends focus on King Arthur, Queen Guinevere, Sir Lancelot, Sir Gawain, and Merlin. Why does Mordred, the man who eventually brings down the whole shebang, get such short shrift? There’s plenty of source material, most notably Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Historia Regum Britanniae and Thomas Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur. Maybe it’s that Mordred isn’t very romantic. Or maybe we just don’t like reading about people who are hard to root for.
In her novel I Am Mordred, Nancy Springer flips the legend, brings the traitorous Mordred to tragic life, and makes him easy to sympathize with. When we meet Mordred he’s a happy child being raised in a loving home by hard-working fisherfolk. His life changes when he’s discovered and taken away. Now he lives with a cold mother, a heavy burden (Merlin has publicly prophesied that Mordred will kill King Arthur) and a huge helping of guilt (King Arthur killed all the babies in the realm when he found out about Mordred’s birth).
But Mordred doesn’t want to kill anybody. He’s a sensitive child who just wants to be loved and accepted by his scheming mother and the kind father who refuses to acknowledge him as son. Can Mordred find love? Can he defy his fate, or is he destined to fulfill it?
I Am Mordred is a short sad novel with a sympathetic anti-hero. Nancy Springer’s prose is pretty and she brings a little piece of Arthurian Legend to life as Mordred gives his candid impressions of Arthur, Morgause, Morgan Le Fay, and others. In addition Springer explores such subjects as the nature of family, love, loneliness, original sin, self-determinism, fate and free will, honor, shame and guilt, and the function of the soul.
I Am Mordred is marketed to children aged 10 and up. As far as children’s literature goes, the tale is rather somber and dark, dealing with incest, adultery, murder, and death, but it’s tastefully done and none of it is graphic or glorifying. Nancy Springer succeeds in illustrating the lesson that we should always try to look at events from other people’s perspectives. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend I Am Mordred to children, but keep in mind that it’s dark and sad. Springer doesn’t change the legendary ending.
I listened to Steven Crossley narrate Recorded Book’s version of I Am Mordred. I enjoyed this production.
Good writing has ... a balance and a rhythm. You can feel that much better when it's read aloud. --Laura Hillenbrand, author of Unbroken
Although it's usually enhanced by nobility and romance, the essence of the Camelot legend is pretty bleak. Despite that I've always been a fan, and was unprepared for just what a downer this rendition is.
Told (obviously) from Mordred's point of view, there is no gallantry or romance here. From beginning to end this narrative just gets more and more depressing. Determined to foil the prophecy that he will kill his father, King Arthur, Mordred's every action only brings the prophecy's fulfillment closer. In a nightmare spiral, whatever he tries to do, Mordred winds up in a worse place than where he started. Despair and failure meet him at every turn.
We never glimpse Camelot's "one brief shining moment." Instead of honorable knights, we get renegades who lop each others' heads off for no discernible reason. I kept going, thinking that there *must* be an epiphany around the corner, the ray of hope that underlies most renditions of this legend. I suppose some would consider the book's brief Epilogue hopeful, but I didn't.
Definitely not recommended unless you like feeling suicidal.
Audiobook Junkie... Love all types of Science Fiction
This is sort of an alternate reality telling of the mythological tale of Camelot through the perspective of Mordred. While I liked the idea of changing the protagonists around, making Merlin the evil one, and casting Mordred in a good light, I found the story a little lacking. I thought the author did an alright job making you want to root for Mordred, a man desperate to prove he isn't a villain, and show casing an unjust world. A warning however, this telling does shatter the good and noble view you get from many stories involving knights in camelot. The author gives mention to gender bias, cruel knights who go around like assassins killing people without much explanation to why, and a harsh reality where a king has little freedom and must commit horrible acts for the good of the kingdom. The big problem for me in this tale was it jumped and everything was a bit rushed. Nancy Springer had a chance to make this a great story in this alternate reality and surprise us all. But it seems like no one can escape fate. Mordred spends most his time worrying about how he might change his prophesied ending where he must meet Arthur on the battle field. It would have been nice if there were a little more focus on Mordred's life and if it was not so depressing all the time. By the end years of his life were skipped through and we get a half assed ending. I guess for what it is meant to be it was alright, but I wanted more.
I love the stories of light supernatural tales with some romance, and giggles.
no...did not mesh with camolot story i'm familiar with.
something more fun
i put off listening to the rest of the story, it couldn't keep my interest.
I loved this book! I was enchanted all the way thru and then it gets to the end and you are like.... what? What happened to the story line? It is like the writer just got tired of writing the story and wanted to hurry up and finish the damn book. So, be prepared. A good book with a good story line until the ending.
The first-person perspective is what interested me most with this book. It was refreshing to hear a story where Mordred is not unilaterally dark and evil. Here, he's depicted as not only a victim of fate, but also of manipulation. Mordred needs to decide who to trust as he branches out into the world. The character's torment along his path through life was believable. I just couldn't get completely involved/attached to any of the characters, which is a requirement for me to really like a book.
Throughout the book, Mordred evaluated his and other characters' thoughts and actions and weighed them against his moral code/belief system. He questioned things a lot. Towards the end, that complexity seemed to wither away.
I enjoyed not only the very different perspective of Mordred that Springer offers, but her poetic style of writing...her ability to paint the picture so that I could see it so clearly in my mind's eye. Many scenes are almost hallucinatory in their richness
All the scenes with Morgan Le Fay are memorable due to the strength of her personality, but the scene of Mordred floating on the lake, surrounded by the maidens was particularly beautiful and dreamy to me.
I have enjoyed Crossley's narrations of Ellis Peter's Cadfael mysteries over the years, and he always makes me feel the pace and place of another time in history, and he always seems perfectly suited to the material he is reading. He is easy to understand and his pronunciation is impeccable. I particularly love his narration of "The Summer of the Danes."
There were several...one being when he sees a girl who has been flirting with him, completely change towards him, when she hears his name. Mordred fully realizes that he is something like God's judgement on his father and a blight on the kingdom; it is a foregone conclusion, an inescapable fate.
I have put Nancy Springer's, "I Am Morgan Le Fay," on my wishlist, and am looking forward to eventually checking that one out.
I'm not sure. To be honest, it kinda dragged on a bit. I don't think I have the attention-span required to try them again. Though I wouldn't shy away from works by them though.
It tied itself up well, actually. I wasn't sure where the ending might go, after all, but it went well.
The knight of the white bratchet hound. :-D
It was worth it in the end, but any dissatisfaction I had, has nothing to do with the writing or otherwise. I just wanted a more richer 'Mordred'. The scenery was so full, but I didn't feel much for the characters. But as far as Arthurian legends go, it tied in very well.
I do like action a lot. I am not saying that the author had to put in more fighting, but I wanted a bit more from the characters rather than their short and often condescending banter. I started to care for Mordred at the end, but not by much.
Not a bad book, and I'd say anyone interested in it should judge for themselves.
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