|A good retelling of a classic ought to add something to the
tale, whether it be a clever twist or a new interpretation. P.C. Cast has certainly added
to the Arthurian mythos in Goddess of Legend. But I'm not at all
sure that Camelot needed Jeopardy jokes, high-fives and snark.
Desperate to save King
Arthur from the collapse of Camelot, the Lady of the Lake summons Isabel Cantelli "a
world weary photojournalist" from modern U.S.A. Isabel is supposed to seduce Lancelot
away from Guinevere (thus averting disaster), but instead she falls head over heels for
Arthur. And he her. Oops. What could have been an interesting story of a modern woman
dealing with centuries old technology, culture and romance quickly becomes a game of
"how many modern things can we make the people of Camelot do".
Isabel is the classic romantic heroine. Her female friends exist only as snippets from
a Sex and the City episode, while her (emphatically platonic) male friends are mere
copies, brought back to assist Isabel in her endeavor. Her lack of real attachments
emphasises her relationship to Arthur, but leaves her boring and one-dimensional. Arthur
is no better. Kind but stern, chauvinistic but sensitive, honourable but flexible,
attractive but unavailable. The classic romantic hero. No wonder Gwen left him.
With two boring leads, the romance of Isabel and Arthur is boring. It's love at first
sight, an unparallelled emotional attachment (aided and abetted by Vivianne's magic), then
misunderstandings leading to angst, followed at last by declarations of undying love. And
not even a really good sex scene to interrupt all the cliché.
It is probably unfair to accuse a romance novel of being thin on plot, but I will
anyway. Isabel spends all her time solving Arthur's problems, from Mordred's attitude to
the invading army. Arthur spends all his time trying to stop her changing things, and then
realising he likes it after she has. There's no depth, no challenge, no heat, no research,
and nothing added to the Arthurian legend that makes this retelling original, special or
even particularly good.