Review: The Recruit by Debra A. Kemp

Monday, June 9, 2008

The House of Pendragon Book II: The Recruit by Debra A. Kemp (cover)

The House of Pendragon Book II: The Recruit
by Debra A. Kemp

Amber Quill Press, 2007
288 pages, ISBN 1592796990

(Indie Excellence FINALIST 2007 Book Awards)

It took me several pages to get into "The Recruit", the second book of "The House of Pendragon"; but I found that shortly after I entered the flashback that made up 99% of the book, I was well and truly hooked.  And while I would generally write the prose off as over-wrought, the tone of the language really wound up working for me.

I haven't read the previous book in the series, and Chapter 1 seemed to dump me into the deep end with characters and events I had no connection to, details of the Arthurian story I didn't remember or recognize.  But this is a what-if, and things have moved beyond Arthur's reign.  Lin is the daughter of King Arthur and Queen Gwenhwyfar, fostered to Arthur's sister Morgause; in this fosterage, her true identity was kept from her and she was raised as a slave to Morgause and her sons (I'm ignoring the framing story  here, whose point I'm not really getting, which is many years later where Lin has her own children and is coming back to Camelot in disrepair).

"The Recruit" is a proper mid-story arc, where Lin begins to come into her own.  She's brought to Camelot; her nightmares, if not behind her, are kept private (between herself and her "foster brother" Dafydd).  But coming from slavery, she's not ready to be a princess (another form of slavery to her); she enjoys some of the privilege at first, but ultimately pledges herself instead as a recruit to her father's army.  Lin is driven to out-perform against odds and preconceptions, and while her past does continue to haunt her she comes out the stronger for it.

For all its darkness, "The Recruit" is an uplifting and empowering story that pays homage to the Arthurian myth but also tells its own story, and brings both the Arthurian myth and its time period home in a much more real manner than I've read elsewhere.

- reddit, digg, facebook, stumbleupon, etc... please! ;)
posted by kaolin

29 comments; 2 subscribers

Monday, June 9, 2008 / 02:19:03
TO ENTER TO WIN OUR COPY of "The Recruit", TELL US ABOUT YOUR FAVORITE ARTHURIAN ADAPTATION--short story, poem, movie, video game, play, whatever. Let us know in the comments below, and one lucky entrant will be selected at random to receive this our review copy to see if it trumps it. :)

Entries will be considered through Monday, June 23 (midnight, pacific time). Open to anyone in the US/Canada.
Monday, June 9, 2008 / 04:03:56
My favorite Arthurian adaptation would be Lord Of The Rings.
Monday, June 9, 2008 / 07:24:08
just send it
Monday, June 9, 2008 / 08:44:00
Monty Python and the Holy Grail, what else?
Monday, June 9, 2008 / 10:04:38
"Mists of Avalon" by Marion Zimmer Bradley
Monday, June 9, 2008 / 10:28:14
Excalibur! It will always be the best movie adaptation, in my opinion.
Monday, June 9, 2008 / 17:07:27
Excalibur for best film adaption
Tuesday, June 10, 2008 / 10:22:33
I also liked Excalibur the best..however it is the only one I have watched
Tuesday, June 10, 2008 / 15:45:28
Excalibur, to be sure!
Tuesday, June 10, 2008 / 19:53:51
Excalibur was the best movie adaptation for sure.
Thursday, June 12, 2008 / 08:53:41
This sweepstakes has been featured on Sweepstakes Advantage, The Web's Largest Directory of Free Online Sweepstakes. Good Luck to Everyone!
Monday, June 16, 2008 / 20:00:16
My favorite is the old movie starring Vanessa Redgrave!
Tuesday, June 17, 2008 / 07:18:49
The Once and Future King by TH White...a classic!
Thursday, June 19, 2008 / 10:29:55
it would have to be the mini-series the mists of avalon.
Friday, June 20, 2008 / 00:40:42
Monty Python and the Holy Grail, absolutely!
Friday, June 20, 2008 / 22:10:46
Lord of the Rings
Saturday, June 21, 2008 / 13:24:03
The Mists of Avalon
Saturday, June 21, 2008 / 22:31:05
Sunday, June 22, 2008 / 03:23:46
I think mine is The Sword in the Stone!
Sunday, June 22, 2008 / 11:59:46
The Sword and the Stone!
Sunday, June 22, 2008 / 12:42:42
The Once and Future King--great novel.
Sunday, June 22, 2008 / 15:42:26
I love the Princess Bride movie and the play Camelot.
Sunday, June 22, 2008 / 23:49:18
Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Monday, June 23, 2008 / 05:17:10
Monday, June 23, 2008 / 12:14:22
Monday, June 23, 2008 / 22:51:52
I always loved reading any books I could find about King Arthur. It sounded like such a romantic time.
Wednesday, July 9, 2008 / 09:06:28
Thanks for the lovely review of "Recruit"! And congrats to the winner of the book. Great idea, by the way--I posted a link about it on MySpace.

I have no single favorite adaptation of the King Arthur stories--I've read so many! I have an enduring fondness for the movie "CAMELOT" because that's what sparked my interest in the first place. I saw the move and wondered: what if he had a daughter? And Lin was concieved.

Of course I've read "Once and Future King" several times, because that's where the movie came from.

I think "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" is the best Arthurian movie--it has all the anachronisms and hyperbole that encompasses Arthuriana; historians, scholars, and story-tellers alike.

I also love Malory's "Le Morte d'Arthur"--the grand-daddy of all things Arthurian.

I hope the winner of the book will post their comments here. I'd love to know what you think of Lin ferch Arthur's story.

Best wishes,
Debra Kemp
Thursday, July 10, 2008 / 14:58:17
Still trying to contact/confirm the winner. We'll select another if they don't get back to us. :/
Wednesday, February 25, 2009 / 16:36:21
We have picked a winner who actually responded to their email! Congratulations to fangirl. :)

I'm reminded of that one episode of Night Court...

But then, I need sleep...

I would make a horrible recruit.

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