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The Saxon Shore (The Camulod Chronicles, Book 4)
by Jack Whyte
ISBN 0765306506 / 9780765306500 / 0-7653-0650-6
Publisher Forge Books
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The story of The Saxon Shore, the fourth novel in Jack Whyte's Camulod Chronicles, is largely that of Merlyn, who continues his struggle to preserve the refuge of Camulod and protect the infant king, Arthur. Merlyn, in Whyte's version, is a fascinating mix of pragmatism and na´vetÚ, blending the observational skills of Sherlock Holmes with the oratorical gifts of Marc Antony. Because he thinks a bit more deeply than most around him, thinking things through and staying a step ahead, it's easy to see how he gains a bit of a reputation as a magician. He also has his failings, most particularly an over-confidence that leads him to believe he is just as right about matters he is ignorant of (such as leprosy) as he is about things he actually understands. It's also interesting to note that Merlyn's failings are in many ways the failings of his community. Preserving Roman ways has meant preserving Roman attitudes toward outsiders and barbarians, and on a trip to Eire and a later journey through the south of Britain, Merlyn learns just how out of touch Camulod has become with its new neighbours.
Thus the story leads us inexorably to a new generation that knows little or nothing of Roman culture. In this way, The Saxon Shore continues with the same strength as preceding volumes. Jack Whyte's most splendid achievement is the creation of an historical period so well grounded in fact that the legend becomes real and Arthur lives again. --Greg L. Johnson [via]