Sunday, June 07, 2009

Damosel by Stephanie Spinner

Damosel is a retelling of Arthurian legend for teens from the point of view of the Lady of the Lake and Twixt, a dwarf in Camelot.

I think I tend to think of myself as more of a fan of Arthurian legend than I really am. I liked The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley a lot, which I read at the recommendation of one of my English teachers. I've read I Am Morgan Le Fay by Nancy Springer, The Last Enchantment by Mary Stewart, "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight" and at least a little bit of Le Morte d'Arthur.

I liked, in this telling of the legend, that Damosel was really a distant observer to all the happenings. She learns most of her news from others--her cousin Nimue, Merlin, and a few other characters she connects with along the way--and prefers to stay away from mortal goings on when possible, which is true to classic portrayals of the Lady of the Lake.

I think I could have done without Twixt, but he did provide a certain kind of balance, a view of life in Camelot. He, too, is mostly an observer, so he doesn't do much; things just happen around him and sometimes draw him in. And without Twixt's complementing stories, Damosel's might have become deadly dull.

Damosel is definitely a book I would have had on my classroom shelf for those students interested in Arthurian tales, and those interested few (the girls especially) probably would have liked it. To an adult, the story will likely lack depth of character and a satsfying level of complexity. (Mostly, this book reminds me that I have yet to read The Once & Future King.)


bermudaonion said...

I've never read any Arthurian tales - this would probably be a good start for me.

Jena said...

Actually, bermudaonion, if you want to get into Arthurian legend, I wouldn't recommend this as the jumping off point. The Lady of the Lake is a really minor character in the legend, so I'd recommend starting with Mary Stewart's Merlin/Arthur trilogy (The Last Enchantment is the one that tells Arthur's story) or Marion Zimmer Bradley's Mists of Avalon (though she takes a lot of liberties with the legend, so it was kinda hard to read the true-to-the-legend stuff after that).

Zibilee said...

I haven't read much Arthurian legend, but I hope to get to the Mists of Avalon soon as well as The Once and Future King. They are both books that I know I will lie, but haven't as yet had the time to read. If I do love them as much as I think I will, I will probably pick up this book as well.