Sunday, August 19, 2012

Review: _Kingdom of the Grail_ by Judith Tarr

Many European countries have legends and epics of great heroes. “Beowulf” was one of the first of these famous stories. Spain had El Cid. Finland had the Kalevala. Britain has King Arthur while France has the “Song of Roland” and the tales of Charlemagne. Fantasy author Judith Tarr writes Historical Fantasy. She takes elements from the King Arthur story and mixes them with Roland and Charlemagne in her novel Kingdom of the Grail. Readers will discover an entertaining book due to the characters, setting and plot.

Interesting characters keep readers hooked into the story. Roland is a warrior serving the king of the Franks. In addition to his great fighting skills, he possesses magic. Deeply loyal and honorable, Roland struggles to fulfill a powerful oath as he struggles with problems in the story. He is helped by his good friends Turpin and Olivier who accept him with his magic. Roland meets the mysterious Sarissa when she rides into the king’s camp with a Saracen group. She is strong ˜willed and a healer, impressing everyone with her skills. Sarissa’s companion Tarik adds a nice touch to the story. Both these characters assist King Charles in fighting an evil enemy that threatens the world. The author creates sympathetic characters through subtle descriptions that increases their growth throughout the story.

Next, setting makes the story seem realistic, keeping the readers grounded in a fantastical past. Ms. Tarr brings the time of King Charles alive with her meticulous research. The mixing of mythic elements history are deftly woven into a realistic whole. Merlin, the Grail Story and Song of Roland take center stage in a Europe in a time of flux. Readers get a strong sense of history with the foray into Moorish Spain and through France. Then readers learn of the mystical king of Montsalvat and castle Carbonek, sanctuary of the Holy Grail. The blending of history and fantasy provides a vivid setting.

An adventurous plot transforms the novel into an entertaining read. Beginning with a prologue, readers meet Roland as he makes an oath to free Merlin from his prison. Roland becomes a great warrior and companion to King Charles. In the camp, he meets an enigmatic woman who draws him into a contest for a magic sword. Then, Roland travels with the king’s army into Saracen controlled Spain. His greatest enemy, the evil wizard Ganelon travels with them. After the battle in Spain comes the journey to the magical kingdom and a dramatic change in the story. Ms. Tarr creates an event filled novel of excitement with great battles, intriguing magic and mythical creatures tied together in a fast moving plot.

Kingdom of the Grail is an exciting Historical Fantasy by Judith Tarr. She brings a grand story to life by mixing history with mythic elements. Readers will find the book entertaining through its characters, setting and plot. Grand battles, intrigue, magic and the Holy Grail makes the book a fascinating story. Readers will enjoy the story of Roland, mighty warrior of King Charles.

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