Cursed

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King Uther, Arthur, Morgan, Merlin, Lancelot..... the names are familiar if you're a King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table fan.

But this one is different. This time Merlin's magic is gone.  This time Arthur is a young blood falling in love with a young woman, Nimue, who can connect to the powers of the Hidden. Her own power may be prove to be greater than that of Merlin but she hasn't truly tested it. This time King Uther is dominated by his mother, a woman who delights in murder. This time Lancelot is being groomed by the wrong people.

As the story opens King Uther's realm is under attack by The Red Paladins, armies of the church, are burning and killing their way to power. Uther has been depending on the magical powers of Merlin to defend his kingdom. Merlin's powers have deserted him which leaves Uther's people defenseless. As for Merlin, he is using every wile he can conjure to stretch out his time in the royal court. But then the dark omens start appearing, blood is raining from the skies and Merlin flees in desperation...not the knowing, all-wise, all-powerful wizard we know.

The Red Paladins are scorching the earth as they march. They are set on carrying out their cleansing in the name of God and their cleansing has brought them to the place where a young woman, Nimue, lives with her mother, Lenore.  The two women have lived quietly surrounded by the Fey people, the Fauns, the Tusks and the Hidden.  Lenore is a healer who cares for the folk of her community.  The Red Paladins come thundering through murdering everyone in sight and Lenore is not spared.   Nimue discovers her mother near death and Lenore's final words to her daughter advise her to take a sword to Merlin.

No one knew Lenore had the sword hidden away. It's known as the Sword of the First Kings and the Sword of Power. No one, including Nimue, knew Lenore had the sword that would belong to the rightful king....would proclaim the rightful king.  Suddenly, that sword, the Sword of Power,  is the prize that is sought after by all the factions.   With the sword in her hands Nimue's life changes. Avenging the deaths of the people she loves, fighting against the dark forces, she becomes known as the Wolf-Blood Witch. This is her story. This is the story of the sword. This is the story of power in the hands of women and men.

If you've seen Game of Thrones, you know the kind of royal intrigue we're talking about here but there is a balance of character and values here, that is refreshing. A sense of right and wrong exists in this world and our imperfect but likable characters, Nimue, Arthur and Merlin ..even King Uther...are finding their way through the siren song of power, purpose, identity and happily, romance.

A dark turn for the legend we know but highly entertaining and written with characters who take you to explore places inside yourself and shine some light in the dark.

416 pages 978-1534425330 Ages 13 and up

Recommended by:  Barb Langridge, abookandahug.com

********** Look out for the original Netflix series starring Katherine Langford streaming everywhere Spring 2020!

The Lady of the Lake is the true hero in this cinematic twist on the tale of King Arthur created by Thomas Wheeler and legendary artist, producer, and director Frank Miller (300, Batman: The Dark Night Returns, Sin City). Featuring 8 full-color and 30 black-and-white pieces of original artwork by Frank Miller.

Whosoever wields the Sword of Power shall be the one true King.

But what if the Sword has chosen a Queen?

Nimue grew up an outcast. Her connection to dark magic made her something to be feared in her Druid village, and that made her desperate to leave…

That is, until her entire village is slaughtered by Red Paladins, and Nimue’s fate is forever altered. Charged by her dying mother to reunite an ancient sword with a legendary sorcerer, Nimue is now her people’s only hope. Her mission leaves little room for revenge, but the growing power within her can think of little else.

Nimue teams up with a charming mercenary named Arthur and refugee Fey Folk from across England. She wields a sword meant for the one true king, battling paladins and the armies of a corrupt king. She struggles to unite her people, avenge her family, and discover the truth about her destiny.

But perhaps the one thing that can change Destiny itself is found at the edge of a blade.--from the publisher

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