gillpolack (gillpolack) wrote,

Maurice Broaduss, KingMaker

Books can be puzzling. My current book ought to be. I tried to explain it to someone the other day.

"King Arthur in Indianapolis," I said.

She said "Why would King Arthur be in Indianapolis?"

I blame Angry Robot. Again. This is one of their review books. Out in early March.

It's urban. There is magic. KingMaker (Maurice Broadduss) is also yet another retelling of the Arthurian legend. Urban fantasy, King Arthur, America. I ought not even talk about it, so ripe such a book ought to be for me to write something I'll regret.

Did you notice all my caveats? Especially that 'ought to be.' I like that 'ought to be.' It was very carefully placed. This isn’t the first time I've been pleased I read a book rather than judging it by the blurb and avoiding it massively.

No uber-cool elves grace Broadduss' urban fantasy landscape. There's not a werewolf or a vampire in sight. There is malice and ugliness and a world that has been shattered. King might be Arthur in other tales, but he doesn't stroll across Broadduss' Breton Court like a colossus, able to set things to right with a simple, glorious smile. He's troubled and tough.

KingMaker isn't yet another retelling of the Arthurian stories. There are drugs and gangs and people who are almost too scared to breathe. If there's a small world that needs saving, it's the world of this novel: too many lives are in danger and too many people are willing to give up. What's awesome is there is no guarantee that King is going to become the Arthur we know. His enemies understand where he comes from and what he can do before he does. They may just defeat the whole notion of a livable world before King can cause it to happen.

KingMaker rocks. It's a bit rough around the edges in style (and I want to see what happens to Broadduss' writing as he gains more craft skills – he's a writer worth watching), but it's tough and it's fascinating. I found the shifts in tone frustrating – they didn't always reflect the characters or the plot needs. I suspect this will change as Broaduss gains mastery. My evidence for this is how very right this Arthurian tale feels and how closely the needs of the characters match the setting. Right now there are too many characters for comfort, but that should sort itself out too, as each of them moves more closely into the dance that is King's story. In other words, I like volume one, but volume two has the potential to be amazing.

Broadduss' book opens up the possibility of an Arthur who belongs to a place. I have a fondness for Arthurs that belong to a specific place. In the twelfth century, someone said that the Bretons believed that King Arthur didn't die, he came to rule the Antipodes. I'm very grateful that Broaduss' world of fey and trolls and drugs and gang warfare isn't anything to do with the Antipodes. I'm even more grateful to have been able to read such a canny reconfiguring of stuff I know perhaps a bit too well.

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