The Song of the Sparrow
By: Lisa Ann Sandell
The year is 490 AD. Fiery 16-year-old Elaine of Ascolat, the daughter of one of King Arthur's supporters, lives with her father on Arthur's base camp, the sole girl in a militaristic world of men.
Sadly I've gotten out of the habit of reading historical fiction, even though I love it. But I want to get back to it because I miss it. This was an especially interesting book because it is about King Arthur and his knights, but it's told in verse. This was the first verse book that I've read and I can say that it will not be my last. I thoroughly enjoyed this particular type of story-telling.
The tone of this book was perfect for the time period. It told of all the things usually found in Arthurian literature and in a lovely way. It spoke of friendship, bravery, love, and honor. All of the characters were well-developed given the relatively short size of the book. I grew to love Arthur, Lavain, Gwyn, and especially Tristan. Even Lancelot.*
Elaine was a true heroine and was given a fair chance to tell her story. I love that she went through things that teenagers go through now, it gives the problems of youth a sort of timeless feeling and what feels like a historical context. You connect with Elaine because you understand the things she is feeling, despite the fact that she lived in a 5th century war camp surrounded by knights.
The writing in this book is gorgeous and evokes all kinds of emotions from the reader. I felt panic and fear and strength and heartbreak. That's the mark of a great story-teller.
As I said this will definitely not be the last book in verse that I will read. Especially after this one I'm hoping to read some more very soon.
*side note: I love the show Merlin so props to the author for making me picture different characters than the ones from Merlin even though they have the same names and are based off the same legends. I love the diversity of Arthurian canon.*
"And I remember asking myself
how there could be men like Arthur and men
like our bloodthirsty enemies,
built of the same flesh, yet so
"...but now you have a whole army of brothers."
"That things change,
that people change
that we grow older,
that life brings the unexpected,
some days it fills me with
a measure of lightness, for
I will be a woman soon.
But other days,
the very thought
of growing older,
of not being that small girl
who danced over river rocks,
whose brothers held her hands,
whose mother lived,
the very thought of it crushes me,
till it is stopped,
by the world
"Savor their love today.
And it will never leave you."
"I try to recall what
was life like
before these boys,
And I wonder, what
would life have been like
if I had never known them...
...Surely I would have missed them."
"When I look up at the heavens,
it is hard to believe that everything
down here on this earth is changing,
so fast, so terribly."
"Everything in this world changes
given the passage of enough time.
...I dare not even think on it.
The peace we all hope for,
that they fight for,
gathers on the horizon like a brewing storm.
This peace would leave us scattered and apart.
...Still the peace that we all pray for,
it is our only hope."
"No man has ever looked
at me but to see my figure, my face.
I hate them for it. But mostly, I hate
myself, because I am nothing more than
a seashell beautiful on the outside,
"they hold my hand and sing me
songs of battle and glory.
And they whisper that the glory is mine."
"But, I believe, I continue, I know now
what true love is---or what
it should be.
...It should begin with friendship and truly knowing
who a person is, knowing his flaws and hopes
and strengths and fears, knowing all of it.
And admiring and caring for---loving
the person because of all those things."