________________ CM . . . . Volume XVII Number 22. . . .February 11, 2011.


The Circle Cast: The Lost Years of Morgan Le Fay.

Alex Epstein.
Vancouver, BC: Tradewind Books, 2010.
300 pp., pbk., $12.95.
ISBN 978-1-896580-63-0.

Grades 8-12 / Ages 13-17.

Review by Inderjit Deogun.

** /4




She had been born of the sea, and now the sea was trying to claim her. The air was salt and wet, half brine in her mouth.

She would try to cough it out, but to cough she had to breathe in first, and she could never get her lungs clear. The cold wet air battered her face, while the ship's deck either slammed up against her legs or dropped out from under her.

She had been born of the sea, and all the world around her was sea. The horizon was lost in the grey confusion between churned water and rain-swept air.

She could hear the ship boom as it slapped down onto the water, and sometimes she thought she could hear the Greek slaves cry out in the hold as the waves tore the long oars out of their hands. The wind made the ropes sing, a low banshee moan that never ceased. She wondered if the mast would snap. She had been born of the sea, and in the savage dimness before night fell, she thought of letting it reclaim her.

The round black ship yawed and pitched wildly in the giant waves, and Morgan could hear the moans of a hundred men below deck. The waves were far too brutal for the men to use their oars; they cowered in the hold.

A few of the captured Greeks struggled with the sail, while three of her bravest warriors held tightly onto the ropes and kept an eye on them.

She had given up green lands for this. She had been a queen; a chief had loved her, and begged her for children. She had walked away from all that, to be here now, in this word of brine and foam and fear. She had given up grace.

One look. That is all it takes to reduce Anna's life as a Roman chieftain's daughter to ruins. One forbidden look singlehandedly leads to the murder of her father by Uter Pendragon. Amidst the grief and rage, Anna is forced into exile as her only means of survival. As she leaves her native Britain for Ireland, 11-year-old Anna assumes the name Morgan Le Fay. With a new name comes her thirst for vengeance.

     Morgan's need for revenge is magnified when she is captured and sold as a slave. She is able to unearth her own magical abilities by watching her master, Buanann, perform mystical acts. Morgan uses her newfound magical powers to not only help her escape slavery but also help her find love. Her marriage to Conall brings with it the desire to transform him into a king, one that will someday help her acquire her unquenchable thirst for vengeance.

     The Circle Cast is a dramatic adaptation of Camelot. Alex Epstein cleverly weaves a story that contains the components of Camelot known to readers young and old. The repetitive nature of Epstein's writing is hypnotic and acts as a lure that propels the reader forward. However, on more than one occasion, the reader questions how something came to pass, such as Morgan's magical abilities. In addition, the story fails to deliver the one thing that the reader is promised from the beginning: Morgan's vengeance on Uter Pendragon. Denying Morgan the opportunity to fulfill this singular goal is difficult to accept because it's the one thing that helps her survive exile.


Inderjit Deogun, of Toronto, ON, is currently pursuing a career in publishing with a particular interest in children's literature.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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