May Earth Rise
Medallion Press (485 pages, $15.95, October 2009)
Reviewed by Charlene Brusso
Does the world need another Arthurian fantasy series? There are as many versions of the story of King Arthur as there are authors to tell it. This is the fourth novel (following Night Bird’s Reign, Crimson Fire, and Cry of Sorrow) in Taylor’s muscular epic fantasy Dreamer’s Cycle, which blends Arthurian myth with Celtic legend in a Dark Ages setting. Arthur is a High King without a kingdom, threatened by one Havgan, a Coranian warleader from across the sea (think Saxons) who’s devoted to Lytir, the One God, and feels it’s his duty to kill all the witches.
As the novel opens Arthur is plotting to rescue the Y Dawnus, the magic-wielding druids, seers, sorcerers and bards whose powers are necessary to sustain Kymru, Arthur’s empire. Taylor casts Arthur as a master strategist who first offers Havgan a chance to leave Kymru – and the Y Dawnus – or stay and die. Havgan, a determined aggressor, and overconfident to boot, refuses to leave. Arthur is surrounded by a large cast of characters – minor kings who once ruled various parts of Kymru, some displaced druids who’ve broken away from the Archdruid after he sided with Havgan, and various friends and relations.