Sunday, May 07, 2006

A Dream of Eagles: The Singing Sword Review

Last weekend, I finished reading the second novel in the Dream of Eagles series, entitled The Singing Sword, and like The Skystone, the book is amazing. The Singing Sword is a direct continuation of The Skystone, once again following the perspective of Publius Varrus and the continuing evolution of the colony that ultimately becomes Camelot. Raids by the various Saxon, Pict, and Frank forces are ever increasing in Britain, and the soliders of the colony find that their newly formed cavalry is ever put to the test, and they quickly realize the revisions needed to form a truly devestating fighting force.

A quick note about the beginning of the novel: For those of you who have read The Skystone and the prologue to The Singing Sword that came with it, please note that it was an earlier draft and the prologue actually featured in The Singing Sword has undergone a good bit of revision, so make sure you read it.

As I've always said when reviewing novels, it's difficult to go into detail as you don't want to give the plot away, however I will assume you've read The Skystone. Publius and Caius continue to further the stability of the colony and the responsibilities of the council while dealing with the repercussions of Publius' failed attempt to kill Claudius Seneca, and of these there are ultimately many. The bond between the colonists and the Pendragon Celts grows ever stronger, and of course, the Roman pressence continues to weaken in Britain as the Empire continues its steady internal decay.

Whyte once again inspires and captivates with the same writing style of The Skystone, and both family values and honour are ever at the forefront of the themes of the series. Of course, what would a continuing series be without new characters, and while I don't want to give away spoilers, I can say that Caius' son Picus, whom we read about so briefly in The Skystone, makes a very important return in The Singing Sword, a return that will have a long lasting effect on the colony and its rising military.

The Singing Sword has a lot of ground to cover as it furthers the overall story closer to the Arthurian legend, and as such, Whyte often fast tracks many years but doesn't dissappoint with key moments, both crisis, military, and emotional. Unseen tragedies will happen in the colony that forces everyone to remember the danger that has truly begun to embrace Britain. From one perspective, however, it is quite sad to see so many characters that you grow attached to simply age, as you know their time isn't long left as the story evolves towards a newer, larger scope. Whyte also expands on some very interesting political and religious discussions, concepts that, in my opinion, well apply today and to the views of many young people.

The Singing Sword is an excellent continuation of the Dream of Eagles series, and culminates in some very critical events for Britian, both politically and socially. If you did enjoy The Skystone, than you will enjoy The Singing Sword. In fact, since the two flow together so smoothly, you'll probably start to forget exactly which parts happened between the end and beginning of the two, but that obviously makes sense being a series by the same author. With new characters, revelations, and a new future, both good and ill for all involved, The Singing Sword makes for an excellent read.

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