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I am Mordred: a tale from Camelot

by Nancy Springer


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Gr 5-8--Told in the first person, this is an involving and moving story. Mordred, the bad seed, the son of King Arthur and his sister, spends his youth learning who he is and then trying to deal with the prophecy made by Merlin that he will kill his father. Springer portrays Mordred as a troubled child who is plagued by his feelings of love and hate for Arthur. As a teenager, he seeks Camelot and tries to earn his father's recognition and acceptance, but eventually flees in a turmoil of emotion. The sorceress Nyneve tries to help him to fight his fate. She cannot protect him from Merlin, however, who forces Mordred to look at a vision of the future. Distraught, Mordred begs Arthur to hold in safe keeping his very soul. Unfortunately, Merlin steals it and ensures an unhappy ending. By focusing on Mordred's dilemma of being caught in a situation not of his own making, Springer portrays the tension in Mordred between wanting to do good and the fear that he cannot fight his fate. A thoughtful youngster, he is particularly distressed by the beheadings and acts of vengeance around him. Although many of the characters have magical abilities, they are portrayed as real human beings. This dichotomy increases the tension: good and evil are seen in terms both human and magical; Mordred is able to chose to be one or the other but his choices can also be thwarted by magic. A complex, necessarily slow-moving novel that will reward serious readers.

Wendy D. Caldiero, New York Public Library

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