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REVIEW: Spear by Nicola Griffith

Amazon.com: Spear: 9781250819321: Griffith, Nicola: Books

I went to a convention recently where I attended a panel on the Arthuriana. Topics of discussion were the current relevancy of the Arthurian tales, its place in our current society, and its legacy in popular media. Most of the panellists noted that it feels like our generation hasn’t really had their version of Arthur yet.

And I agree with this, to some extent. Especially in popular media, as with most subjects re-visited often by Hollywood, little new things actually are said. I immediately thought of a book, however- “Sword Stone Table: Old Legends, New Voices”, an anthology I have not yet actually read but which came out about a year ago and is filled with stories retelling the lore surrounding King Arthur, often gender-bent, race-ben, queerified or in some way inclusive that Arthurian tales previously weren’t very often.

It’s a good collection, from what I’ve heard, though I have not yet read it. What’s the link with this book? Spear was originally commissioned as a short story for that anthology, but it quickly grew into something much bigger, and a year after it was supposed to have been published in Sword Stone Table it released as this instead.

All the better for it. Spear is a wonderful tale, and if it’s an indicator of what the other stories in Sword Stone Table are like I’ll be very keen to read that. Griffith manages to use the familiar threads of Arthurian mythology in a way that feels refreshing- you catch glimpses of the original story, names that feel familiar, concepts that are as old as the stories themselves. But this story feels like a different tale- a story before the stories, Griffith’s new take on a household world.

It’s a mythic story, poetic and lyrical, with wonderful and honestly impressive genderqueer character development subtly interwoven. It feels so effortlessly done.

One of my new favorite reads of 2022!

G. Lowie
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Goran Lowie is an avid reader of all kinds of speculative fiction and poetry. For years, he's been rotting away in some rural hellhole in Belgium, but luckily he has literature to keep him going!

His real obsession with the genre sparked with the incomporable works of Ursula K. Le Guin, and his heart stayed there forever. Other favourite authors include Patricia A. McKillip, Mary Soon Lee, John Wiswell, Robert Silverberg and Italo Calvino.

When Goran isn't reading books, he's either editing this very magazine or creating lesson plans for his day-job as a high school teacher! You can find him on Twitter: @GoranLowie

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