This book is the conclusion of the popular Arthur series in which Kevin Crossley-Holland skillfully weaves stories of King Arthur (seen through a magic seeing stone) with the story of a 13th century boy, Arthur, who is on the cusp of manhood. As Arthur joins the ill-conceived fourth crusade he witnesses and uneasily participates in the brutality of the Middle Ages at the same time questioning the meaning of honor and nobility. Arthur's story is fabulous, but I found that the too frequent "King Arthur" stories began to detract from the series during the second book, and in this third book they not only detract, they seem extraneous. In fact, I began to skip these stories both because they were so senseless and brutal, and because they didn't seem to mirror 13th century Arthur's life enough to illuminate his feelings or growth (as they did in the brilliant first book of the series, The Crossing Places). Overall, I felt that this book was a mediocre ending to a series with great promise. If you love the traditional King Arthur stories (not the more sympathetic revisionings of the legend), you may love this, but I was disappointed.
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