Greetings folks! I just published a review of Edward M. Erdelac’s The Knight with Two Swords. I even read it just out of the blue, without trying to get a mutual review scheme going with Erdelac, because… I’m just like that!
Since my own Swithen series of Arthurian novels stays close to the actual Arthurian legends as published, I was curious to see how Erdelac did it. I was also curious to see how he handles the whole Balin & Balan story (Balin & Brulen here), because obviously that episode will be coming up in my own books, and I wanted to be sure that I’m handling it differently. So while the review discusses the book, here I’ll talk about how it approaches writing challenges similar to the ones I face in my series.
As for adapting the actual legend, it was very interesting for me, because he comes at a similar challenge in a somewhat similar way. He fleshes out scenes that we only hear about in the legend—like the Lady of the Lake killing their mother, which, in the actual sources, we only hear about as having happened in the past. Here we have the actual scene, and Erdelac uses dramatized scenes like this to build out his novel. In my own novels I am pressed to do similar things, or to write out scenes that “must have” happened, in order for the work to stand on its own and feel complete as a novel. And in doing so he is able to work in some good Arthur time and a zesty imagining of life amongst the knights, which was both fascinating and entertaining. So it was interesting to see another author handle a similar challenge and realize that it has to be handled in a similar way.
Even more interesting is another challenge of adapting the real legend, which is that the reality of it is quite, quite disparate and does not at all hang together as a cohesive story—because it was not written that way or ever intended that way. In this case, the challenge is to find a way for the Balin story to work on its own, since in the legend it works primarily through eerie resonance with the larger story, and how it creates a symbolic contrast with stuff that happens later in the tale. In my version, those later elements will be there eventually, so I don’t really have to worry about that part, but what we both face as authors is the need to give all of this a larger narrative to fit into, so the entire thing isn’t just some random tale. I have the whole legend, and the luxury of 25 novels, in order to do this (but I’m already WAY worried about it) and Erdelac has to do it here, in this one, and: I have to say that he finds a very nice way to find thematic connecting material that makes the story integral to the overall Arthurian legend, while also remaining faithful to the source material as it exists. Yay, Edward M. Erdelac!
I’m also happy to report that it was different enough from what I intend to do (which is like six novels away anyway… the Balin story will begin in Book 10 or so of The Swithen), that I don’t have to have big worries! So pop on over there and read my review and then buy Erdelac’s book as well as the whole series of my books and leave 5-star, glowing reviews of each one on Amazon—Thanks!