Friday, January 28, 2011

Review: The Anvil Stone by Kathleen Cunnigham Guler

The Anvil Stone (Macsen's Treasure, Book 3)
by Kathleen Cunningham Guler
Bardsong Press (2006), Hardcover, 416 pages

‘Death to you. Two sons of the North or two of the White Dragon. Your choice. Beware … Excalibur.’ (page 373)

Marcus ap Iorwerth follows his dream to unite Britain and fights Saxon’s threat. Marcus is helped by his wife Claerwen, who foresees the future with what is called ‘fire in the head’.

‘The light burst inside Claerwen, firing magnificent and hot and raging, and from its center she saw a hand ran up through the water’s surface. It was the woman of the lake’s hand, and her graceful, slender fingers clutched a sword’s hilt as sure as strong as any warrior’s. The blade, long and slightly tapered, was forged of fine steel; the hilt, pommel and cross-guard of brilliant, chased gold. Light radiated from it …’ (page 92)

Rival fractions fight each other to impose a new king on Britain, they are also searching another piece of Macsen’s Treasure: the sword Excalibur. Uther, present king, already holds parts of Macsen’s Treasure: the crown, the spearhead, and the torque; but Excalibur is waiting for the new king: Arthur.

Marcus gets injured, so follows a long exile and separation from Claerwen.
Eventually many mysteries are revealed, but Arthur is still a boy …

The Anvil Stone also fights against an enemy: Arthur’s legends and hundreds of books already written about his adventures (legend or truth).
Arthur and Excalibur are the winners.
King Arthur lived in the early sixth century, according to legends he defended Britain from the invaders Saxons. Legends and history tells a story where magic is important and necessary.
The Anvil Stone lacks of magic, fantastic scenery, supernatural events.
Myrddin (or Merlin the Enchanter) spreads a bit of fantastic on Marcus’s life, but insufficient to bear an entire book (it comes at the end of the story): ‘He will be the light that comes out of the darkness. You (Marcus) are a blacksmith. You know of dark and light, fire and iron.’ (page 401)

Marcus and Claerwen’s story is a thoughtful passage of their life. They clarify each other of previous fears, nightmares, dreams.
Marcus’ dark side (Iron Hawk) is unveiled when his past is narrated to Claerwen.
Claerwen: ‘Is this your true nature? Is the disdain for killing just a mask to hide it, a nature you won’t admit to himself except through the Iron Hawk?’ (page 369)

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