Wednesday Book Recommendation: April Booking It Review

Well, it's the last Wednesday of the month, so you know what that means...time to review my Booking It pick of the month. This month I read...

Taliesin (The Pendragon Cycle, Book 1)

...Taliesin by Stephen R. Lawhead. I first heard about this book from Peter who talked about his junior high English teacher reading it to their class of MK's (missionary kids) in Peru. I figured that probably made the book pretty safe, so one Christmas I looked them up and managed to find the first three books (used). That was several years ago and let's just say that I have gotten better in the gift giving department! :-) Peter was appreciative, but once they were opened and put on the bookshelves, they stayed there until I pulled Taliesin down for one of my 2010 Booking It reads with Jessica over at Life as MOM.

My thoughts? Well, maybe this will give you a good clue about how I felt as I started reading it...I actually called Peter at work to "yell" through the phone, "The main character [blah, blah] and then [blah, blah, blah] dies and this book is stupid!" :-) Yep, those were pretty much the words I used (only I filled in all the things I disliked about the book instead of saying blah, blah, blah - but just in case you decide to read it, I don't want to spoil it for you!). Let me also say again that I read ahead in books and always find out the ending before I get there, that way I don't get too attached to anyone only to be upset that they, ah hem, don't make it to the end. Were I not reading it for the Booking It list, I would have stopped by the fourth or fifth chapter, but I pressed on and ended up getting mildly sucked in. So sucked in that I started Merlin, the second book in the series. But I've stopped reading that late at night because I ended up having really. weirddreams. and even some nightmares...yeah, it's a little wacky. 

So let me give you the general gist of the book. Basically, it covers the ancestry of Merlin...as in, advisor to King Arthur and his knights of the round table. But let me tell you, this is a far cry from the cheerful Walt Disney version with Mad Madame Mim! And believe it or not, it starts in the fabled lost city of Atlantis. My biggest negative critique of the books is very poor character development. Having since started book two, I now understand that certain people will be reintroduced and they have a larger part to play, but even so, there are still some characters who are never fully developed and their sudden arrival and/or departure from the stories is rather irksome. There are also several story/plot lines that are started and then dropped, never explained, or explained too simply to be believable. While talking about druids and seers, magic and the Otherworld, we suddenly get two Christian priests - followers of Jesu Christ - dropped into the story and we are privy to the founding of the early British Church. For goodness sake, I can't even keep it straight in my own head and I have read the book, so please excuse this rather disjointed account of the storyline!

I feel the need to add that I had no idea what the book(s) were about before I decided to read them, but being who I am, I am compelled to at least read the three that we have (Taliesin, Merlin, and Arthur). There are five total books in the Pendragon Cycle, the previously mention three books being #'s 1, 2, and 3, with Pendragon and Grail being the final two in the series.

However - and this is the main point for me - I felt like Lawhead was trying to be J.R.R. Tolkien and failed miserably to live up to Tolkien's writing genius. Don't get me wrong, when I finished reading Taliesin I looked at Peter and told him, "It's a fine one-time read - actually better than I expected when I first started reading - but I don't plan on reading these books over and over like I do Lord of the Rings or even Chronicles of Narnia." Tolkien didn't try to make Lord of the Rings an allegory, but he wrote a wonderful set of books. Lewis wrote a beautiful allegory in his Narnia series and it's a joy to read and re-read. Lawhead wrote a beach book which will probably find itself back in a used bookstore someday. And that's my final word on my April Booking It selection. :-)

My May Booking It selection is: Eats, Shoots, and Leaves by Lynne Truss. If you would like to see my complete list of Booking It selections for 2010, click HERE. Check out Jessica's latest Booking It post where I have linked up. In the meantime, drop me a line and tell me what you're reading!

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