January 04, 2016

Twist of the Blade (The Shards of Excalibur, Book 2)

by Edward Willett
Coteau Books
217 pp.
Ages 12+

Teen protagonists Ariane Forsythe, heir to the Lady of the Lake, and Wally Knight may have outwitted Rex Major of Excalibur Computer Systems, a.k.a. Merlin, and rescued the first of five shards of the sword Excalibur in Song of the Sword (Coteau, 2014), the first book in The Shards of Excalibur series by Edward Willett, but there are still four more shards to be recovered.  That is, if the two are to trust the Lady of the Lake who has instructed them to do so to prevent Merlin from gaining control of the Faerie world.  But trust is a monumental issue in Twist of the Blade, and  Ariane and Wally begin to wonder who they should trust, who they can trust and if they can even trust each other.  

You see, both Ariane and Wally seem to be changing.  Ariane has started to feel the brutal power that the shards harness, violently defending herself against Wally’s sister Felicia and her "coven", landing Felicia in hospital.  On the other hand, Wally has become quite skilled at fencing and Rex Major is starting to believe the teen is heir to King Arthur of Excalibur fame.  Not surprising that, after being hospitalized because of a terrible fall and receiving no visitors (since his parents are separating and oblivious, Felicia is herself injured, and Ariane is recovering from her attack) except for Rex Major, Wally begins to wonder who's on his side and even how scrupulous Ariane is.  Regardless, the two set off for France to locate the second shard, Ariane travelling via the moisture in clouds and Wally flying there, while Ariane’s Aunt Phyllis hides herself off in her cabin in rural Saskatchewan.  

But it soon becomes evident that Ariane and Wally are making poor choices, doubting each other’s intents and sincerity.  Locating the second shard in a newly-discovered cave outside of Lyon, France is just the beginning of a conflict that has the two teens working at cross-purposes to the task set out for them by the Lady of the Lake in Song of the Sword.

While Edward Willett continues to weave the Arthurian legend into a Saskatchewan setting, he builds on the Merlin, Arthur and Lady of the Lake story by creating a magical sword that craves to be reconstructed and wielded as a weapon.  But Excalibur is more than a sword.  It is an instrument that exerts rage and strength and, as Ariane notes, attitude.
"...the shard was a piece of a weapon–its attitude was brutal and direct." (pg. 113)
Edward Willett capably brandishes the trust issues of teens, especially those related to their families, as the means to progress the story.  But it’s these same issues with which Merlin and Arthur had to deal.  However, without their anger and self-doubt, Ariane and Wally could not learn to believe in others and themselves as worthy of the challenge to bring together the shards of the legendary sword of King Arthur and complete the story of The Shards of Excalibur.


Watch this space for my next post, a review of Lake in the Clouds, the next book in The Shards of Excalibur series.

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