Reviewed by Tori (Vicki)
TITLE: When First I Met My King
SERIES: Arthur Trilogy #1
AUTHOR: Harper Fox
PUBLISHER: FoxTales Publications
LENGTH: 138 pages
RELEASE DATE: September 30th, 2017
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.
Ok. So I have to start this by saying I am the proud owner of over 100 books about King Arthur… I have gotten past my obsession and haven’t been reading much for the last few years, but I am a big fan of anything Arthurian. When I saw Harper Fox was releasing a book about King Arthur I about lost my freaking mind. If there is anyone that can do this legend justice, it is Harper Fox. I have complete and utter faith that this will be an amazing trilogy. Especially since the first book was AMAZING!!!
It is a big challenge to use an existing legend that is so well-known as a backdrop for a story. I’ve seen it done well, and not so well. Do you stick with the legend as it exists? Do you create new characters? New stories? A little of both?
Harper uses Arthur and Lance as her main characters (BIG risk!).0 But changes them subtly. Lance is the son of Ban, king of a small tribe near Hadrian’s wall (Lancelot is usually French and is a later addition to the Arthurian legend). Lance becomes king after a raid wipes out his family. He is only a teen at the time.
Arthur is also a teen, but from a very different life. He’s been left with Ectorius by the Merlin as an infant, the son of Uther and Ygraine. Ector has been raising him with his son Gaius (All pretty traditional). Arthur and crew are traveling to gain support in advance of Arthur’s taking of his father’s throne, and encounter a strange young man near a lake…
Lance is just finishing a very odd evening night and day involving Vivianna, and a sword he receives from a hand in the lake, when he encounters Arthur and his supporters. Their initial interaction doesn’t go well, but once they both realize they could be friends, things improve rapidly. Lance offers the men a place to stay while they visit, and the two boys so close in age quickly bond.
Lots of little things happen from here, some we see and some we are told from the past; Arthur’s ancestry and potential ascendance to the throne. Ector and Gaius. Lance and his whole history. The two versions of how Arthur received Excalibur (that was seriously perfect!). The name of Excalibur. The sword fight between Arthur and Lance. Vivianna and the hare. Medraut and how he came about. Camelot. The Merlin. the round table (also very clever!) All of the traditional bits are there, but just slightly changed. Then we have the naturally occurring physical relationship between Arthur and Lance. It just happens between them, no fuss no muss. They aren’t open, but it doesn’t seem to be a big secret either. There is the mention of a quest. There is some magic, and some pagan traditions, but also some Christian elements as well. All of the parts are here, and I loved it.
Loved it! Seriously loved it. This is a retelling of a traditional legend, with two young men sharing a physical bond. I have no doubt that will turn in to love, but I can’t figure out where Harper will take this! She’s kept close enough to the traditional story, that I don’t know how this will go! I know how it’s supposed to go, but with the two men being the lead characters, I am so very curious.
This book has phenomenal writing, it is a creative retelling of a tale that has been told a thousand times and more. Harper walks the fine line of keeping it the same and changing it up. She gives us perfect characters, an interesting plot, with some excitement and drama. The sex is hinted at, but subtly, which worked very well.
I HIGHLY recommend this book! This is how you write an Arthurian story. You change enough to make it fit your narrative, but keep it traditional. I am so happy, I just can’t stand it! Where is the rest of the story?? I have to wait until December? Sigh…