Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Review: When First I Met My King (Arthur Trilogy #1) by Harper Fox

476fc18b53762287a24c0c35892dfd5c2fbf1c4bTitle: When First I Met My King

Author: Harper Fox

Release: 30th September 2017

Genre: M/M (historical)

Rating:

1c_thumb21c_thumb31c_thumb41c_thumb51c_thumb6

goodreads add to

SYNOPSIS

Once upon a time, there was a winter that wouldn’t end. And all that’s standing between the people of White Meadows and starvation is a young man called Lance.

He’s sixteen years old, and for all his courage and hunting skills, he’s running out of fight. His family has been wiped out in a border raid, and he’s drowning in loneliness. When strangers arrive at White Meadows, all Lance can think of is using his last strength to drive them away.

But these men have come in peace, not to burn and destroy. Among them is a hot-headed, utterly charming prince-in-training named Arthur.

For Lance, Arthur’s arrival is like the return of the sun. The prince has everything – learning, battle skills, a splendid destiny. But as the days unfold in the remote northern settlement in the shadow of Hadrian’s Wall, it soon becomes clear that Arthur needs Lance, too.

celtic-paperchains2

Mark’s Review

Christmas arrived early for me this year when I heard Harper Fox was releasing an M/M version of the Arthur saga. I must admit I first squealed with delight. One of my favourite authors, one of my all time favourite stories, what more could a boy from Cornwall who has grown up with all the magic and mystery of the Pendragon Tale wish for? I must admit that I have probably read almost all retellings of this story and seen all the various film versions, of which there are many. Some good, some not so good. One of my favourites is Bernard Cornwell’s The Warlord Chronicles trilogy, absolutely wonderful. So I have many comparisons and in that lies the danger of disappointment due to the fact of whether the next retelling will live up to expectations or not. You know what you want from the story, so will it be delivered? What angle will be portrayed with this version? From which view point will it be told? Will it still be fresh? How will Harper manage to keep the magic of one of the oldest and most told stories alive with another version? A very tall order indeed and a very brave undertaking by Harper when you think about the countless versions out there. So I opened the first page and dove in headlong trying not to let all the other versions in my head colour my judgement.

Well? I LOVED it! Why? Harper’s writing and descriptive narrative lends itself beautifully to this tale which is full of magic and mystery. It needs to be brought alive and this she does wonderfully. While reading, it felt like being sat around a campfire listening intensely to an old bard telling a tale of yesteryear and long ago. I was a child again being fascinated by a master story teller, listening to tales of magic swords, dragons, knights and ancient Celtic folklore mixed with the “new religion” in its infancy, old gods and the new God, religious traditions old and new mingling together, all breathing new vitality into an old story and giving the Arthur story a new lease of life.

After the Romans left, Britain was plunged into the Dark Ages. A period of history that even today comparatively little is still known. We know more about ancient Egypt than Britain in the Dark Ages. A time where maybe the vestiges of Rome were left but Britain was struggling to establish itself and get back on its feet. It is in this haunting time where the Roman history is fading and a new age is dawning that we meet Lance who lives in the north of England near Hadrian’s wall. It’s a tough life and winter has been harsh with famine and death but he still cares for his people who he sees as his responsibility since his father has left. This is when he meets Arthur, a young man travelling with his adopted father trying to recruit and unite the indigenous folk against the Saxon invaders.

I just loved how Harper has started this series, two young boys who meet for the first time. One destined to become King and the other who has been bowled over by his charm. A young, sweet and innocent love currently due to their age. A time of sexual and emotional exploration but where feelings are none the less intense due to their youth. Harper’s writing captures this mood wonderfully and maybe we will see it flourish into a strong and mature love. Arthur is charismatic and charming if not a little brash at times due to his youthfulness but this is kept in check by his adopted father and brother who was given Arthur by the Merlin to look after. Lance has fallen hard for Arthur and adores him but feels trapped by the responsibilities of looking after his people. It is a time where the more accepting and older Celtic religion is at logger heads with the new and more puritanical religion of Christianity. Both of these philosophies are causing an emotional tug-o-war for Lance and Arthur as they are the generation trying to bridge the divide between the old and the new.

This trilogy for me has got off to a damn fine start and left me hoping that there could be a happy ending as the original saga does not have one to speak of. How Harper will deal with this will be interesting. How will the story develop? What role will Gwynevere play if she appears at all? Of course, thinking about it why not a romance between Lance (Lancelot) and Arthur who even in the original story were so close to each other one could have suspected a romance there from the start. That Arthur and Lance were the two in love from the beginning. So yes, I approve fully of this take on the story to turn it into an M/M romance. Can’t wait now for book two to see how Lance and Arthur go from their youthful love to being a loving adult couple. Do they even make it? Will there be a HEA rather than the tragic ending of the original? What outside influences will be put upon them that will try and test their love for each other? So for Arthur fans all the elements are there, Excalibur, the Lady of the Lake, The Round Table, Merlin, Arthur, magic, folklore and religion, all set in a time that is as full of mystery as it ever was. I for one will be looking forward to where the journey takes me and what Harper has in store.

Purchase Links

AMAZON | SMASHWORDS | KOBO | B&N

celtic-paperchains2

Meet Harper Fox


image_thumb14
Bestselling British author Harper Fox has established herself as a firm favourite with readers of M/M romance. Over the past three years, she’s delivered thirteen critically acclaimed novels, novellas and short stories, including Scrap Metal (Rainbow Awards Honourable Mention),The Salisbury Key(CAPA nominated) and Life After Joe (Band of Thebes Best LGBT Book, 2011).

Harper takes her inspiration from a wide range of British settings – wild countryside, edgy urban and most things in between – and loves to use these backdrops for stories about sexy gay men sharing passion, adventure and happy endings. She also runs her own publishing imprint, FoxTales.

Harper has recently returned from Cornwall to her native Northumberland, and already the bleak moorlands around her home are providing a wealth of new ideas for future work.

FACEBOOK | WEBSITE | TWITTER | GOODREADS

4 comments:

  1. This sounds fantastic! I'm a huge fan of Harper Fox's work, and I look forward to diving into this trilogy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I’m sure you’ll love it, Alexa.

      Delete
  2. Yep, this is right up my alley - so to speak. Definitely a read for me!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I’m sure you won’t be disappointed, JP.

      Delete