Goddess of Legend, a Non-Review

Review book courtesy of Penguin Group

 

To recap: when I put up a “non-review,” it means I couldn’t finish a book. I’m not going to review it on Epinions or Amazon, and this isn’t going to be a full-on review, but I don’t mind telling you folks here why I decided not to finish it in case that information is useful to you. Just keep in mind that my judgment isn’t based on the entire book. In this particular case I was thrilled to see that I had a review copy of P.C. Cast’s Goddess of Legend. After all, I LOVED her Goddess of the Sea, another book in the same series. Unfortunately, I ended up being surprisingly disappointed by this installment in the series.


 

Perhaps it’s a matter of expectations. Goddess of the Sea was magical and lovely. The cover art and back-cover text of Goddess of Legend certainly made me think this would be a similar book—enchanting and absorbing. Sure, Goddess of the Sea had some great humor in it, but it was warm and fun, and fit well into the enchanting milieu. Unfortunately, Goddess of Legend comes across more like a slapstick comedy. It’s not at all what I was expecting from every indication of what was in the book, and it was incredibly jarring. Maybe I would have liked it better if I’d been expecting that kind of book ahead of time, but then again, maybe not…

You see, Goddess of Legend involves a woman who’s swept back to King Arthur’s time. The Lady of the Lake wants her to seduce Lancelot away from Guinevere so Arthur will remain happy and thus Merlin won’t fade away from the world out of misery. Of course it’s painfully obvious even from the wording of the Lady’s own spells that Isabel is really going to fall in love with Arthur (and since the Lady wants Arthur to be happy and not heart-broken, why does she think this is a bad idea when it happens? I’m at a loss as to why she’s so completely blind to the obvious solution here).

Thus, Isabel sets off to King Arthur’s court, pretending to be a Countess. The Lady’s magic gives her a disguise and enables her to understand and speak the version of English of the time period, but despite Isabel’s worries about whether people will be suspicious of her, as soon as she meets anyone from the time period she seems determined to be as anachronistic as she possibly can. Her language, her actions, the things she says… it’s like she’s trying too hard to be funny for the sake of the reader. Not only is this puzzling and rather incomprehensible, but it’s already old—the “an anachronism in King Arthur’s court” theme has been done to death, and in the portion of this book I read there was nothing new in it.

It unfortunately didn’t take all that long before I got frustrated and gave up, just about 40 pages in. I should have known it wasn’t a good sign when at the very beginning I couldn’t help wincing at what seemed a highly stilted and awkward conversation between Merlin and the Lady. It’s hard to reconcile this slapstick, discordant mishmash of styles with the elegance of Goddess of the Sea.

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