Some stories are just so good that they refuse to fade away: classic tales that just keep on reinventing themselves for new generations. The English tale of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table is one of the most enduring stories ever. It has been adapted into a hit Broadway musical, a Disney animated feature film, and numerous children's novels have used King Arthur as their central character.
Could there be anything new to squeeze out of the thrilling but well-worn tale of the gallant king, his realm Camelot and his chivalrous band of knights in armour?
Author Katherine Roberts thinks so. She has been fascinated by Arthurian stories since she was little, and in her novel Sword of Light she brings to life all the knights, dragons, druids and magical horses that always give Arthur such a hold over readers and make his story so enthralling. But Roberts also adds an important element of her own.
Sword of Light introduces Rhianna, the secret daughter of Arthur and Queen Guinevere. She was taken by the magician Merlin to the enchanted island of Avalon as a baby, and brought up not knowing her true heritage: she may be Arthur's true heir, but she doesn't know that the crown of Camelot might one day be hers.
Her carefree life on Avalon is suddenly turned upside-down when Merlin appears out of the mist one day with dreadful news. Arthur has been killed in battle by his evil nephew, Mordred, who has seized the throne of Camelot. It is time for Rhianna to face her destiny and save her father's beloved kingdom.
Merlin brings Arthur's body to Avalon and tells Rhianna that the king will be reborn to reclaim his kingdom if she can track down the four magical lights that have the power to restore Arthur's soul to his body. Merlin tells Rhianna only she can find the sword Excalibur, the Lance of Truth, the Crown of Dreams and the Holy Grail. The fearless princess leaps onto her mist-horse and, with a trusty band of companions, rides off to Camelot to claim her inheritance.
Sword of Light is an exciting read that brings a feisty new character into Arthur's world of chivalry, magic and adventure. It is the first book of a promised series, and Roberts obviously has more adventures in the pipeline for Princess Rhianna.
Three cheers for girl power in what has long been a boy's world.
John Millen can be contacted on MillenBookshelf@aol.com