Arthur at the Crossing-Places

Ah, the difficult middle book of the trilogy! It's always a tricky prospect, and while I would read with joy and delight any book by Kevin Crossley-Holland, Arthur at the Crossing-Places is for me the least satisfying of this series (I'm including Gatty's Story here).

Appropriately perhaps for a hinge-book, this volume finds Arthur treading water. He is now squire to Lord Stephen, who is preparing to leave on the crusades; but by the end of the book, they still haven't left. Most of the book is taken up with Arthur watching events unfold in his seeing stone, the adventures of King Arthur and his knights. Frankly, the array of ladies in distress, gallant knights and evil-doers to be overcomes, challenges and jousts and romances, becomes a little dizzying. In the real world, Arthur is troubled by his parentage; he has discovered that the unpleasant Sir William is his father, while his mother remains unknown. He wants to find her, but doesn't know how, and again, the book finishes with this issue unresolved.

But I don't read Kevin Crossley-Holland for the story, really, but for his glorious, brightly-coloured language, which glows like a stained glass window or an illuminated manuscript. And for the sake of that, I'm happy to be frustrated on the plot front.

Arthur at the Crossing-Places was the last book of this series I managed to buy, so I've read them (re-read them) all out of order. But now they are all happily lined up on my shelf, and I'm very pleased to see them there, complete. I think these are books I will go back to again and again in years to come.

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