Friday, March 29, 2013
Review: Dawnflight by Kim Headlee
Arthur the Pendragon, representative of Rome in Britain, was able to lead his forces to victory against a loosely united group of Pictish clans in the battle of Aber-Glei. To their surprise Arthur imposes a rather light treaty on the defeated, hoping to win the clans to his cause. As part of this treaty Chieftainess Gyanhumara ("Gyan") nic Hymar is obligated to marry a Brytoni nobleman.She chooses Urien map Dumarec, son of her clan's worst enemy, in hopes of bringing in lasting peace to her people. However when a prophecy suggests that a Brytoni chief will cause her great joy and great sorrow and lead to her death, she begins to question. A matter not helped when she finally meets Arthur and falls in love with him.
The crux of the story, at least for me, is a coming of age tale. Gyan has been groomed to lead her people and takes this responsibility very seriously. However in a sense her upbringing has been very sheltered and events conspire to confront her with a larger world. Naturally she begins to question her place within it and to discover who she truly is and what she truly believes. I thought Headlee did an excellent job in slotting in other characters points of view to balance things out but Gyan is undoubtedly the star of the show. My only issue is that is that Urien and Arthur's sister Morghe are not given any redeeming qualities and seem a little too like cartoon villains though the main villain of the piece Cuchullain is portrayed much better.
This Arthurian tale is set across the backdrop of Britain in the fifth century and everything from the languages, cultures and religions is vividly portrayed. The various forms of foreshadowing were used to good effect and infusedthe tale with a real tension.
Overall Dawnflight does a fantastic job of combining a coming of age tale with a vivid backdrop. 8/10.