Stephanie Spinner

Random House
Trade Paperback/208 pages
ISBN: 0375836349
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". . . predictable . . ."

How did the magic sword Excalibur find its way to King Arthur and what became of it? At a young age, Stephanie Spinner became intrigued with an illustration in a book about King Arthur that inspired her youth novel, Damosel. The image that captured Spinner’s imagination was a woman’s hand “rising out of a lake, brandishing a sword.”

The woman, Damosel, is a magical fairy who lives in a lake and is capable of gliding between the mortal and fairy world. Because she has the unique talent of shaping metal, King Arthur’s faithful protector Merlin the wizard asks Damosel to forge a magical sword for the king. After eight years, Damosel presents the king with Excalibur, a sword that kills swiftly, along with a dragon skin scabbard that stops the bleeding of any wound.

Years pass. Damosel, who prefers a quiet life, declines an invitation to King Arthur’s wedding reception. She makes the fatal mistake of sending her power-hungry cousin Nimue in her stead. Nimue enchants Merlin with her beauty, seizes his power and locks him away in a dungeon. Unable to break the spell and rescue Merlin, Damosel promises to protect the king from his enemies, but instead she returns to the lake with Sir Pelleaus, a mortal with whom she has fallen in love.

Spinner’s story is predictable. She redeems herself with the parallel story of Twixt, a teenage midget, who is rescued from cruel thugs by one of King Arthur’s knights. Twixt, who becomes the court jester, is the book’s hero. He uncovers the plots against the king and risks his life to rescue Queen Guinevere from those seeking the king’s throne. Twixt’s loyalty is unsurpassed.

Spinner, a longtime publisher of children’s books, has written several original tales that have been widely accepted. Perhaps it is the retelling of a well-known story when Spinner is at her best.

Reviewer: Kate Padilla