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Song of the Sparrow

Review

Song of the Sparrow

Something about King Arthur draws people to his stories. Gwynivere. Lancelot. The wizard, Merlin. Gawain. Tristan. The Round Table. The sword, Excalibur. Throughout the centuries the legend of Arthur continues to grow.

Britain, 490 A.D.

The adventurous Elaine of Ascolat, known throughout the myths as The Lady of Shallot, lives with her father in one of Britain’s war camps. He is an avid supporter of Britain and has joined the army to serve his king and country. Ambrosius Aurelius, leader of all Britons, is about to lead his people into the battle of Mount Breguoin against the Saxon army. Britain is on the brink of war, again.

Elaine has been raised to believe that a woman’s domain is in the home, not on the battlefront. But when she thinks of her father and brothers and the other men she’s grown to care for, she feels she’s in the right place. The people she loves most could march off to battle today and never come back. Why would she want to be anywhere else?

The only other girl at camp is Morgan, Arthur’s older sister, but she’s much too close to the king for Elaine to share her deepest secret with --- Elaine is in love with Lancelot. Elaine and Lancelot grew up together, playing games and running along the riverbanks, but all that was long ago. Now when Lancelot looks at her, all he sees is a wonderful girl. He sees a gifted healer, a girl armed with milfoil and poultices to stanch the wounds of the soldiers. He sees her skill at mending clothing and chain mail. He sees her loyalty, her hard work and her vital job within the army. But he doesn’t see a woman.

When King Aurelius is poisoned by a Saxon spy, Arthur is the obvious replacement. Young, powerful, intelligent and already popular among the troops, Arthur would lead the retaliation attack. Days before they leave, a beautiful woman arrives at camp. Gwynivere is supposed to be for Arthur, the new king, but immediately Elaine can see that Lancelot’s eyes are drawn to her. The men who mean so much to her will soon march to battle, leaving her behind at the camps. The man she loves is falling for someone else, and since Lancelot doesn’t yet see Elaine as a woman, who can blame him? With all that Elaine holds dear weighing in the balance, she must decide who she will be, what role she will play and how far she will go for love.

Written entirely in free verse poetry, SONG OF THE SPARROW is a wonderful addition to the Arthurian legends, offering readers an inside look into the mysterious Lady of Shallot. Lisa Ann Sandell weaves together lyrical images and vivid characters to create a compelling romance between two of the famous players in Arthur’s world. Elaine’s story transports readers and dares them to imagine a time long ago --- when powerful men vied to rule the land through war, the weak had to fight for their rights, and the common people dreamed of equality and hope. A time not so unlike our own.

Reviewed by Jonathan Stephens on May 1, 2007

Song of the Sparrow
by Lisa Ann Sandell

  • Publication Date: August 1, 2008
  • Genres: Historical Fiction
  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Paperbacks
  • ISBN-10: 0439918499
  • ISBN-13: 9780439918497