Legend has it that King Arthur will return in the hour of England’s greatest need … although he’s already alive and well in several popular novels and a big-budget summer movie.
But what would happen if the once and future king really did appear in our own time? What challenges would he face, and how would the world react to such an event?
Molly Cochran writes about these issues with rare power in The Third Magic, sequel to The Forever King and The Broken Sword.
Arthur’s reappearance has been fraught with controversy and danger. The Round Table knights have kept the young man in hiding for four years, but the time has come for him to fulfill his destiny.
The problem is that not even Merlin, architect of the king’s return, can predict what that destiny might be.
Meanwhile, the Holy Grail, hidden in a creek and granting healing properties to the water, once again is the target of one who would use it to forever perpetuate his evil. Fortunately, the forces of good also are drawn to the Grail. With Arthur’s time on Earth running out, and the world uncertain whether to lionize or vilify him, is there any hope of evil being vanquished?
Drawing upon two books’ worth of background story, Cochran can focus on the spiritual, rather than taking time to set up events. The tale gains poignancy as characters face the consequences of actions that took place centuries earlier. When added to the immediacy of Arthur’s destiny, some thought-provoking issues are raised.
The author resists the temptation to go for a happy ending for her trilogy, although it certainly doesn’t conclude on a sad note. Rather, it goes for impact and succeeds admirably. It’s much more realistic: Who could believe that an Arthur reborn in the 20th century could reasonably right all his past mistakes?
And, on a purely personal note, Cochran has written Merlin so that I can’t help but hear Richard Attenborough’s voice while reading his dialogue. That takes some skill.
Although this retelling of Arthurian legend is understated, The Third Magic may just blow the upcoming summer blockbuster out of the water.