Lance’s entire family was killed by Pictish raiders and now at 16, he is the leader of his small, remote settlement near Hadrian’s Wall. They have been facing a seemingly endless winter and people are starving and struggling to survive. One night, Lance goes off hunting for food and he encounters a strange old woman who impacts him deeply.
When Lance returns home, he finds strangers near his village and he is determined to do whatever it takes to protect his people. But it turns out the strangers are peaceful and even help their struggling settlement, and it becomes a turning point for the town. With them is Arthur, a young man the prophesies say will one day be king of the Britons.
Arthur is bold and strong willed, well trained, and magnetic. Lance finds himself drawn to the young man, who is equally charmed by Lance. The young men would like to stay together, but both have responsibilities. Lance’s village needs him to lead, and Arthur has his duties further south. But the connection between them is strong, and ultimately their destinies lie together.
When I First Met My King is Harper Fox’s engaging take on Arthurian legend. It is the first of a planned trilogy, and this story gives us the opening of the tale as young Lance and Arthur meet and connect fiercely.
The story is told with a very distinct style that almost has a “storyteller” feel. There is a strong narration that describes events in a way that really plays nicely off the Arthurian legend. I’ll admit that at first I had a bit of hard time settling into the style, especially because it takes the story a few pages to really become clear. But once I got into the book, I really enjoyed the style and tone of the story and Fox nicely evokes both the time period, and the mystical elements of the legend.
I loved the way the book plays with the Arthurian legend. We get little details that play into the larger story. For example, we learn why Arthur builds himself a round table, and see the origins of Arthur removing sword from stone. It has the effect of reading the “true story” of the legend, as these little everyday elements of their lives pick up pieces of the bigger picture. I am not incredibly familiar with the Arthurian story, but I had no problem following these little details and appreciated how fluidly Fox weaves them in to the larger tale.
As the first story in the trilogy, this book is really the starting point. As the title says, the book is about how Lance and Arthur meet and the first steps in their relationship. We see their bond of friendship, as well as the start of a physical relationship between them. But this is just the first piece of the larger tale, and while it doesn’t end on a cliffhanger, this book is definitely one you would want to real as part of the trilogy versus a standalone.
I found the book quite engaging and I am really eager to see how the trilogy develops. I really felt immersed in the legend and can’t wait to see it all play out. If you are a fan of the King Arthur stories, this is definitely one you are going to want to check out. But I think any fans of historical or fantasy stories will find a lot to enjoy here. I am definitely looking forward to more.