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Sue Owen -Paper Mustang
on Aug. 18, 2012 :
This is a tale of epic proportions. The reader learns to first fear then love the characters involved. I loved the setting and how Copeland made it all so very real. I found myself in the castle with the hero and carried along with him as he explored the beautifully described countryside and its people.
The story itself is a page turner. There was a place towards the end where I had to get up and turn on the lights because I wanted to make sure that Patrick’s demon didn’t find me, too! I loved that fear. It made the book so much more real for me. But the irony in the book was not lost on me. I found the demons that Patrick fought to be the same ones that we deal with in everyday, modern day life.
This book was so beautifully written from character descriptions through story line and scenery. Not for a while have I been able to immerse myself so fully into a book. This is going to the top of my must read pile.
(reviewed long after purchase)
on Feb. 16, 2010 :
I may be a bit biased, so I'll put my bias right up front- I'm an old friend of the author since high school, though aside from reunions, I don't think we've said more than two words to each other in person in the last 20 years. In addition to that, through very different paths, we're both Roman Catholic and Third Degree Knights of Columbus- and so I'm writing this review more from that viewpoint (though, readers who lived in Silverton in the 1980s might want to skip down to my last paragraph of this review).
I'm not so sure I agree with the tags on this book. It is billed as a fairy tale, fantasy, about King Arthur and Avalon, and it certainly does have elements of that. However, it's set in the middle ages, after the First Crusade; King Arthur and his knights are just a myth within a myth in the book. But all myths have a core of truth, and Clarke's Law (that magic is just science we don't understand yet) is followed faithfully in this novel, even if for background info it uses Norse Myth, the Book of Genesis, and the myths of England and Ireland woven into a logical whole by the author. From that standpoint, this novel comes close to hard science fiction or historical romance; those who follow such genres and normally avoid fantasy will not be disappointed.
Neither will those familiar with travel in Cornwall, Ireland, the Isles of Scilly, or the beaches of Basse-Normandie in France be disappointed- it is obvious that the author's travels since high school have lent a realism to this novel that is not to be understated. Even some unknown undersea cartographer agrees with him- curious I followed his directions on Google Earth to his location for Avalon, only to find the undersea features on the edge of the Northwest Bank Continental Shelf to be the Pendragon Escarpment and King Arthur Canyon.
But on to the mythology. It never occurred to me before reading this wonderful novel that there are great similarities in the tales of gods and giants that sweep west from the middle east up through Europe to the northern reach of the Aryan peoples. I recently also read _Popular_Tales_ from_the_Norse_, by George Webbe Dasent, who made the point in his introduction to that 1904 work that the Nordic myths of the Aesir and the heroes of old are among the most ancient in Europe, the most untouched by the coming of Christianity. Many of the myths I read in that work, are explained here in a way that ties them wonderfully into the myths of King Arthur's Roundtable, the Book of Genesis, and the tales of the Danae Shea, the mythical fairy people that inhabited Ireland before the Celts. For those reading _Echoes of Avalon_ for the mythology, I also recommend Dasent's work, which is now in public domain and can be found on Project Gutenberg & Librivox. It will give you the original forms of several of the myths that _Echoes of Avalon_ refers back to.
Which brings me to Chivalry, Charity, and Knighthood. Or at least, Charity, Unity, and Fraternity- the virtues of a Knight of Columbus. In the novel, Sir Patrick Gawain has lost his faith, and it seems to me, somehow became a knight who exemplifies Charity- but who has lost his love of Unity and Fraternity. As such- his Chivalry, as shown through his interactions with the three most prominent female characters, is unblemished (except for one scene, but he's not in his right mind, drunk from a celebration, but which of us are sinless? And even then, he makes the same mistake I used to with women- giving them what they appear to want, rather than holding to virtue for virtue's sake). But his relationships with his brother Knights are strained to say the least- he seems to see scandal everywhere, and also suffers from a delusion of inadequacy himself. It takes the events of the novel to teach him Unity and Fraternity- that no man is an island, and that man truly needs woman. For that reason, I recommend heartily this book to new Knights and their significant others- girlfriends or wives. There is enough romance in it to keep a woman interested, and it shows the lessons of the first three degrees in a different narrative than that usually taken by the Order of the Knights of Columbus.
Which brings me to that last paragraph- and the final group for which I recommend this book- those who knew the author in his younger days in Silverton, OR, those of us who grew up with him. This quiet, more moral than I was, teenager, somehow through his travels and studies, has become a man that I treasure as a friend, and while I don't remember him being obviously religious as a young man, he has become a good and faithful servant of the Roman Catholic Church, and it shows in this novel. The main character, Patrick Gawain,
could easily be Adam himself to those who knew him back then- Sir Silence indeed, Adam rarely talked and was the model of the wisdom of the old saying that he who stays silent might be thought crazy- but he who opens his mouth removes all doubt. Adam has always waited for his thoughts to be completed before he speaks- and so does his primary character in this novel, Patrick Gawain. Reading this novel will give you a real feel for who Adam has become in the last 20 years since high school. How accurate of a picture, I'm not sure- I don't spend much time north of the Columbia these days- but certainly it's an interesting read for those of us who knew Adam when he was young.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)