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Marion Zimmer Bradley
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Paula Coots
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The Student Prince - FayJay This book may just have officially entered my top 10 of awesome free reads. 'May' because I don't actually have a top 10 written down anywhere and I am not about to take time to make one now, but, believe me, it's up there. It is that good. And by good I mean funny and entertaining. Not 'wow, that's deep, let me reconsider the choices I have made in my life' kinda good. Which is good, really, because who has time for that kinda good? Maybe when my kids have gone through college and are out of my hair. Which is kinda late to be reconsidering choices, ok, I am rambling. This book made me giddy and rambly.

I started out amused, but wary. Every single character from the Arthur legends seemed to get dragged into the story and when you've read as much Arthur as I have (Mallory, Chretien de Troyes, Stewart, White, Zimmer Bradly, etc.) the last thing you want is to watch everyone go through the same old patterns as they go everywhere else. Again. So, for me, it was good that most of those characters were pretty much irrelevant to the story. I guess you could complain about characters like Elaine, with her unrequited love for Lance, being introduced in the story and then completely disappearing, but personally I was relieved to not have to watch the drama of the Arthur/Guinevere/Lancelot/Elaine mess play out here.

When it turned out we weren't going to accidentally produce children with half sisters, the story got me good. I am sucker for witty banter and the bitching and bickering between Arthur and Merlin is really top notch. Toss in some extended UST and creative magic and you have something that I, at least, find hard to put down. Is it for you? That depends on you tolerance for this type of writing. Did you like The Morning Star? Cold Turkey? Chances are you'll like this:

*Arthur and Merlin on top of a tower on a winter night*
"Bloody hell," Arthur said at last, half-laughing at himself. "I think my
arse has frozen solid. And my toes are numb. Crikey. This stone really is
pretty damned chilly, isn't it?"
"Can I say 'I told you so' yet?" asked Merlin.
"Only if you want to put your Peter Pan skills to the test when I throw
you over that wall," Arthur said. "God, I wish I'd thought to bring some
whisky. Whisky would have been an excellent idea. Damn it."
Merlin smiled hugely in the dark. "Mmm," he said. "So, just out of
curiosity, what would you give for a wee dram of Glayva right now?
Hypothetically speaking? I mean, I know it's more of a liqueur than a
whisky, but...?"
There was a rather pregnant silence, and then Arthur was sitting up and
staring over at Merlin's shadowy form in the moonlight.
"Are you pulling my leg?"
"I'm not pulling your anything," said Merlin. More's the pity. "I'm just
asking, in the spirit of inquiry, what the going rate would be. A
knighthood, perhaps? A Caribbean cruise? A Terry's Chocolate Orange?"
"Merlin, if you have a bottle of Glayva somewhere about your person and
you're holding out on me, I shall have you declared a traitor to your
prince, and exiled from Wales."
"I'm already exiled from Wales, pretty much."
"Permanently! And from Scotland, and England, and Northern Ireland
too! I'll have you deported to Canada, to work as Celine Dion's cabana
boy."
"Oh, well now you're definitely not getting any," said Merlin. "God, what
even is a cabana boy when it's at home?"
"I think it involves being shirtless and making cocktails," said Arthur,
vaguely. "There may also be some moose-wrangling duties, in Canada.
Possibly."
"There's a beaver joke in there somewhere, I just know it," Merlin said.


And, then, of course there is the pure exquisite Britishness of the whole thing. With the Blackadder references (I can't help but laugh every time Arthur calls Merlin 'Baldrick') and The Famous Five, etc. Not to mention all the new words I learned. Like chav, pillock, plonker and, my personal favorite, twatwaffle.