Serpent Rose

Kari Sperring
Serpent Rose Cover

Serpent Rose


A highly enjoyable Arthurian retelling, centered on the knights Gaheris and Lamorak. I hadn't already been familiar with the particular episode retold in this novella, but context clues and a general knowledge of Arthurian myths were sufficient to give me a good idea of what the original story looked like and how Sperring's version departed from it.

Unsurprisingly for an Arthurian retelling, there's quite a bit of violence and tragedy in this story. However, it also made me laugh out loud during several scenes. The interactions between Gaheris and his brothers Gawain, Agravaine, Gareth, and Medraut in particular are frequently hilarious...when they aren't tense, ominous, and/or breathtakingly sweet.

I also really liked how historically grounded the story feels. I noticed two or three anachronisms (insofar as an Arthurian retelling can be said to contain anachronisms), but the overall impact is of a society appreciably different from modern Britain. The characters are very believable, but their concerns and manners and moral codes and belief systems are distinctly of another era.