Posts Tagged ‘King Arthur’

pendragon21The House of Pendragon: Book II, The Recruit

By Debra A. Kemp

Amber Quill Press 2007


Buy Link: http://amberquill.com/Recruit.html 

Author website: http://www.myspace.com/debrakemp


After reading Debra A. Kemps’s first Pendragon book, (The Firebrand) I wanted to read the sequel right away. Unfortunately life got in the way and the book was put on hold for a few days. Once I had a whole day to indulge myself, I got comfortable on the sofa with my soft, comfy throw and a glass of iced tea. I began the first paragraph a little warily, wondering if I could possibly love this book as much as the first. I needn’t have worried, Ms. Kemp did not disappoint.


Freed from slavery and coming to Camelot, as King Arthur’s daughter, is quite an adjustment for Lin and her foster brother Dafydd. Released from the brutal uncertainties of his life as a slave, Dafydd settles in and happily begins training for his life long dream of being a bard. Lin’s adjustment is harder. Although Arthur is thrilled at his daughter’s return and offers love and warmth, Queen Gwenhwfar’s reception is cold and distant. What Lin desires most is her mother’s love and approval—the Queen only wants Lin to conform to the monotonous life of royalty and accept the duties of a princess, including an arranged marriage. With Prince Modred’s rape and abuse still fresh, the last thing Lin wants is a husband.


Hurt by her mother’s coldness and unable to accept the life Gwenhwfar plans for her, Lin’s headstrong rebelliousness resurfaces, bringing harsh punishment from the Queen. Deciding there’s no hope of reconciliation with her mother, Lin goes to Arthur and requests permission to train as a royal soldier. Having passed the initial test to be accepted as a trainee, Lin is warned she will be given no consideration for her rank or sex during training. Haunted by her past and meeting resistance at every turn, will Lin’s indelible, fighting spirit finally be tamed or will she become a princess worthy to be Arthur’s heir?


Being a modern woman, I love Lin’s stubborn resistance to a life planned by everyone but herself. In The Firebrand we meet and get to know Lin, as an orphaned slave with a death wish, and the heart warming love between her and her foster brother. In The House of Pendragon: Book II, The Recruit we see Lin grow, mature and come into her own. She learns when and where to fight her battles against cruelty and barbarism. But fight them she does, even against the father she’s come to love and respect. I was impressed with Ms. Kemp’s impeccable writing and gifted storytelling, as she seamlessly weaves this gripping tale from one book to the next. I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed that the author will honor us in the future with a new Pendragon book. I feel an intense attachment to these characters and would love to read more of their story.


If you haven’t read Pendragon: Book I, The Firebrand, I suggest you start with that one. My review of it is listed in categories in the sidebar under book reviews – historical.






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pendragon1The House of Pendragon, Book I: The Firebrand

By Debra A. Kemp

Amber Quill Press 2003


Buy Link: http://amberquill.com/Firebrand.html

Author Website: www.myspace.com/debrakemp


When I received The House of Pendragon, Book I: The Firebrand by Debra A. Kemp, I thought—okay, another battling knights, forced marriage, romance kind of thing. Not that I don’t enjoy those books, but I’ve read so many of them, I was hoping for something a little different. And this story delivered. Ms. Kemp has drawn from the too often told stories of King Arthur and created a totally unique, fresh, and realistically adult view of the uglier side of life in the dark ages. The story follows Arthur’s daughter, Lin, from slave to heir to the throne.


At the tender age of five, Lin is living in a slave hovel and awakens one morning next to the cold body of the only woman she’s ever known as mother. Unknowing of her royal lineage, the only family she has left is her seven-year-old brother. Dafydd loves his little sister and does his best to be both mother and brother. Complete opposites in temperament and personality, these two are perfect foils for one another.


In spite of all Dafydd’s attempts to caution Lin against her rebellious ways, years of taunting and ill treatment by the Queen’s sons leave her heart hardened. At the age of twelve, the Queen gives Lin to her son Modred, as his personal slave, to use in any way he likes. Horribly abused by her new Master, Lin becomes filled with hatred and a cold contempt of Modred and the Queen. With evil cruelty, Prince Modred is determined to break Lin’s spirit. Despite his attempts, Lin is just as determined to die before bowing to his will.  


Ms. Kemp has given us a brilliantly flawed heroine in Lin, a slave with a stubborn will too strong to be tamed. To her, slavery is wrong. Period. She will fight it till her dying breath; no matter how much pain it brings. This aspect of Lin’s personality may not set well with some readers because it also brought abuse down on those closest to her. But I understood exactly where Lin was coming from and felt very close to her. I loved her defiance, even if foolish and self-destructive. I cheered her on all the way, even while I waited anxiously for the retribution bound to follow.  


If you’re looking for a romance set in King Arthur’s court, you won’t find it here. What you will find is a beautifully written tale of the loving relationship between a brother and sister, and their daily struggle to survive the ugly, heinous life of slavery while keeping their humanity intact. Once I started The House of Pendragon, Book I: The Firebrand, I read it in one day and had trouble putting it down even long enough to take care of necessary chores. Lin and Dafydd will live long in my heart and I can’t wait to read Book II.




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