12.23.2006

HH Com 397

Aurelius is the only living son of Arthur and Guinevere, born after his father’s death in Camlann, and raised in a monastery, unknown to all in Britain. He knows nothing of the life of the court and even less of the life of a warrior. An aging Lancelot has been called to train him—his mother’s dying wish.

But Aurelius cannot use the sword, is terrified of horses, and wants only to escape his father’s name and the burden it places on his future. Lancelot is killed because of his (whose??) cowardice and Aurelius and the girl he loves, Iseult, are enslaved by Irish raiders. Iseult is raped, and when he kills the rapist in a berserker rage, Aurelius becomes a hunted fugitive.

In this final extremity, Aurelius allows his natural talent for leadership to emerge. He finds a group of bandits, all British slaves, who begin to depend on him. Then the group grows, and soon Aurelius is conspiring in a massive slave rebellion. He saves hundreds, and returns to Britain on a ship, ready at last to become High King of Britain.

At the end of this first book, he writes of himself, “I am Aurelius Ambrosius. The words mean eternal golden one. I am neither. I am the son of Arthur, my life taken from the first moment of my breath, by expectations, by fortune tellers and soothsayers, by gods and magic, by my father’s ghost. Free will, the bishop promised me. But I have never been free.”


There's nothing new here. You need something to hook my interest beyond "Arthur's unknown son". That's just a gimmick to launch the novel. You actually have to write something that brings fresh perspective to this old as the hills story.

17 comments:

Virginia Miss said...

I'd read a book about Arthur's son, but this writing felt clunky.

Gabriele C. said...

It may not be new, but if it's well written, with compelling characters and some nice battles, I'd read it. Yes, I'm a sucker for books with a Roman or Dark Age Britain setting. :)

Btw, what happened to Iseult?

BernardL said...

Being a real Camelot fan from Tennyson and childhood, I was hooked until the hook killed off old Lancelot. Author, you needed Lancelot to stick around right to the end, and you'd have a winner. He could have kicked the plot in the butt at every slow point. Alas...

Anonymous said...

Thing about it is, those of us that love fantasy, like it when we are already familiar with the background of a story so there doesn't have to be those 200 pages of building the world that the reader is looking at. And I really like the writing style of the author. I don't care if it is old at this point, I'd buy it. Hope you manage to hook an agent author.

Laura K said...

The names in this turn me off immediately. Aurelius (or Aurelianus) Ambrosus is Arthur's uncle. Why would his son have the same name...first *and* last? Iseult is Tristam's lover.

How does Guenevere ever know about the kid if she's in a nunnery, he's in a monastery and Lancelot's in a monastery? Does he kill Constantine to become King? Or what?

Given that you don't want to retell Arthur's story, you're assuming a pretty strong background in the legend, and if people have that background you're going to have a lot of work to do to overcome their objections.

I am also unclear about the genre? It seems like it would be YA, but if it is you don't want to include a rape and the language is far too high-falutin', as they say. If not, it's going to be a really hard sell for adults to be interested in Aurelius as a kid, and you'll need a lot of his life as a kid to make up for why he is what he is.

writtenwyrdd said...

Miss Snark, is, as always, right. This could be set anyplace. In fact, if you did it as a high fantasy, it would probably work better, IMO.

Using an Arthurian legend as a plot device is pretty tricky. Your writing has to live up to some heavy-hitters' works. Also, the legend needs to seem relevant. I'm not sure how it applies, based on your query.

This could be good, but the query doesn't show why we should care. Is the story about his redemption after Launcelot dies and his girl is brutally raped? Or is it about who he becomes after these events, and the story is unrelated to the rape or Launcelot's death?

This sounds almost like pure background and that we are waiting for the real story.

writtenwyrdd said...

You are competing with some heavy hitters by using Arthurian legend. And the plot elements you describe could be set anywhere, including in a fantasy realm. It might even work beter there than in a historical piece.

What I read here in your query sounds like it is all background, that the real story begins after he flees. So, is the story about who he becomes after he flees; or is it about the events that lead up to the flight (the death of Launcelot, the rape of his girl, etc.)?

This could be good, but it doesn't yet sound like you know what your story is.

writtenwyrdd said...

sorry for the duplicate entries. Blogger ate the first one...I thought!

Anonymous said...

The last knight of Camelot arrives to teach the kid cool stuff, and he doesn't jump at the chance to get away from a bunch of monks, get out in the world and meet girls? What kind of a hero is that? And if he's got any brains he will kill the bad guys *before* they rape his chick.

Then he ends it all by feeling sorry for himself. Nuts to that. The stories told and retold around the fire back then were about HEROES, and unless you've cast Frasier's little brother Niles in the part, the dude should at least make an effort to imitate them.

Jeeze. I'm gonna watch that Monty Python movie again...

Gabriele C. said...

Laura,
the name Iseult is pretty common, there are two already in the Tristan legend - in one version there's the Irish Iseult Tristan is in love with, and a Breton one (Iseult Whitehand) he marries though he never consumates the marriage. Also, I have no problems with Aurelius. If you follow the theory to connect Arthur - whose very existence is doubtful to begin with - to Aurelianus and thus make him Roman or half-Roman (his mother could have been British), Aurelius would be the name of his gens according to Roman naming conventions, and it makes sense for his son to be an Aurelius, too.

Writerious said...

In some versions of the Arthurian cycle, Aurelius Ambrosius is Merlin's father. I wonder why the author chose this name for Arthur's son?

Laura K said...

Gabriele -

That's my point exactly. I am turned off by the fact that he's using names that already have histories. I don't care whether they are logical choices by the standards of naming conventions, I don't want them in a story. Especially a story that retells a story I am already familiar with. If you're going to write Arthuriana, you have to use names that don't already have huge amounts of emotional attachments for your readers.

Anonymous said...

I love the Arthurian legend, and I love the idea of him having a son other than Mordred. (Although if you're going to change the story anyway you could maybe NOT end it with Arthur and Mordred killing each other. THen use Morded. Although I actually like the idea of Guinevere giving him a son...so maybe not!)

Also please don't tell me Ambrosious is his last name? Because it ought to be Pendragon.

I love reading the books and studying the legend, but I'm hoping there's more knights than just Lancelot around...who dies????

If Gawaine's in it at all, I'd be all for it!

In all honesty though, the thing I want to see most from an Arthurian book is one that focuses on the glory days of Camelot, over the trajedy. If anyone knows of one...let me know. I've cried way too often over every death of Arthur in every book I've read. ;)

Gabriele C. said...

Lol Laura, I've read so many variants of Arthuriana and so many twists on the canon characters that I don't mind to have another twist. But I can see it may spoil the fun for some readers.

Have you read Bernard Cornwell's Warlord trilogy? Now, he has a very unusual take on Lancelot.

Though my own NiPs with a Roman / Dark Age Britain setting don't feature Arthur. :)

MJ said...

I agreed with the earlier comment, being a fan of Arthurian-based books, I would read the book anyway, but I agree with the other critiques provided.

Furthermore, besides not really having a reason to care about the MC, I also don't see any potential secondary characters or friends he might make that we could care about and help us in caring about the MC. I mean, both his girlfriend and his mentor are killed off - who's left that matters?

That might also just be personal taste and the question may also be answered if we were given specifics about what really happens after Lancelot's death and Iseult's rape, as someone else pointed out.

Anonymous said...

So much of the essential legend would be so different if Arthur and Guinevere would have had a legitimate son together. It would be nice if you established at what point your story veered off from the standard.

Anonymous said...

What I don't get is that the character sounded like he had a humorous slant in the beginning (he hates everything he's supposed to excel at, etc.). Sort of a YA-feel.

Then he sounds like a self-pitying, overly-serious, not-very-deep old man in the end.

I need to like a person to root for him through an entire novel. I can't stick with the guy through the battles and enslavements if he has no perspective and sense of irony about himself, his failures, and his weaknesses.