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Heather Anastasiu
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The Excalibur Murders

The Excalibur Murders by J.M.C. Blair
J.M.C. Blair
Berkley Trade
Release Date:Jul-01-2008

Rating
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10

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Age Level
9-12

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Flamingnet Student Book Reviewer  TKono
J.M.C. Blair is actually just a pseudonym. John Curlovich is the author of "The Excalibur Murders." Taking place in King Arthur's days, the story resurrects classical characters that most well read readers are familiar with (e.g.- Merlin, Arthur, Sir Lancelot, Guenevere, etc.). The only unusual aspect is that some of the characters' traditional traits and characterizations are skewed. Here, Arthur is separated from Guenevere and hates her. Arthur also holds disdain against Lancelot since he is his wife's boyfriend. Also, Merlin claims to possess no real magic. Anyway, the main plot deals with what the title suggests. Members of Arthur's court are being brutally murdered in cold blood, and the famous Excalibur Sword that Arthur pulled out of the "stone" goes missing. Arthur assigns Merlin to the investigation, and Merlin uses his wit to solve the case. Assisting him with the investigation are several helpers. (Colin is a female disguised as a man that fled from the kingdom of Arthur's sister and is in hiding. Britomart is a female knight that is known to surpass male knights in both strength and strategy.) The suspense of finding the killer--and revealing more deaths along the way--tosses the reader back and forth. Facetious scenes are incorporated, as well.

This novel is quite a mouthful. The complexity and depth of all the characters truly sucks the reader into a new world. Conversations are realistic, and so is the story. Merlin continually claims that he is a scholar, not a sorcerer. He thus talks down upon supposed magic and polytheistic gods. This makes the world of Camelot more believable to all and less offensive to religious readers. Additionally, when the true killer is revealed at the end, the excitement is not in who he is but how he is made known. In actuality, the book hints at who the real killer is; the real trouble is proving it in public. Overall, "The Excalibur Murders" is a fantastic book for children of all ages. The writing is masterful and there is no explicit material. Lancelot is said to be promiscuous, and Colin dresses as a seductress in one scene to lure the killer into revealing his secret. However, these circumstances are not described in depth or to a graphic nature. If anything, morals are heightened when Lancelot's unfaithfulness is said to be grotesque and Colin keeps her composure while on a difficult mission.

Reviewer Age:17

Reviewer City, State and Country: Staten Island, NY USA



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