Black Smith's Telling

by Fay Sampson

Reviewed by Coral

So, as you know, I didn't much like the first two books of this series, so why would I bother continuing on with it? Mostly I just love the Arthurian legend so much, I don't like not reading books about it, even when I know they're going to suck. Which it did.

Our third original character narrator is Teilo Smith, who's just a little bitter because Morgan cursed him. What exactly the curse did, I'm not sure. There's something about him not being a man, but he's still got all the required parts, and they work. But he wears dresses, which he hates. It's not even that people see him as a woman, because some still call him sir, so I don't get it at all.

Anyways, Teilo first meets Morgan as he waits with his village to see their King's new bride arrive. When Morgan rides up, dressed as a pagan queen, to her Christian wedding ceremony it catches people's attention. The kingdom might be Christian, but there are still some who practice the old ways, Teilo Smith among them. In fact, he's pretty much a High Priest in his village.

As Morgan rides past him Teilo thinks he sees her bow her head to him, and from then on he's obsessed with her. He assumes she wants his power, and waits for her to call for him. When she doesn't he goes to find her. But he never understands what Morgan's after and, angry that she won't recognize him for the power-stud he thinks he is, refuses to ask, culminating in the death of a few people and Teilo on the run. And, because Teilo is the all-important "main character", he stumbles across Nimue and Arthur.

A lot of the Arthur legend unfolds in this book, all the way up to the birth of Mordred. So, I should have been happy with it, but man, I hated this book.

Teilo is the worst of the original character narrators by far. Hm, I think I've said that about each one, that's not such a great pattern. All he does is complain about how much he hates wearing his dress, about how he used to be a black smith, about how powerful he is, and so on and so forth. I think he's a blowhard. He claims he's so powerful, all I saw him do was screw things up and run away and hide. If he's so powerful, that Morgan should be learning from him, why couldn't he undo the curse she supposedly laid on him?

I hate the characterization of Morgan in this book. Where's the bad ass bitch that's so great in other books? She's so pathetic and whiny in this book. Oooh, tell me I didn't do that, that I'm not evil, that I don't destroy everything. Seriously, what happened to her?

Also, why are she and her sisters so close in this book? I don't remember a lot of fun family togetherness from the first book. Thinking about it, Luned and Morgan are a lot closer in this book too; Morgan actually seeks comfort from Luned.

And why would Nimue, Lady of the Lake, allow a Christian priest to be Arthur's tutor, when all she wants is a return to the Old Ways. A little counter-productive, isn't it?


Grade: F