Title: The Arthurian Omen
Author: G.G. Vandagriff
Release Date: April 2, 2008
Publisher: Shadow Mountain
Genre: Historical Thriller
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 1.5 out of 5
Is the story of King Arthur history or myth? In this spellbinding novel, a Celtic scholar is murdered when she finds a clue to a priceless 13th century manuscript that will provide the true identity of King Arthur. The victim’s sister takes up the quest to uncover the relic, but quickly realizes that someone close to her is the murderer. As pursuit of the manuscript winds through the ruined castles and monasteries of Wales, more than one reason emerges for keeping the manuscript and the legend buried in the past.
When I first heard about The Arthurian Omen, I was excited at the premise. I enjoy historical thrillers, and I am a huge fan of the whole King Arthur mythology. Though I’d heard some less-than-positive things about the book that made me hesitant, I was eager to give this novel a try. I thought that despite being flawed, I might enjoy it simply for the fact that it relates to the Arthurian legends. Sadly, I was wrong.
I tried to like The Arthurian Omen. I really did. I thought the concept of the book was wonderful, but I couldn’t accept the execution. I tried to make excuses for it in my head and tried to get past the things that bothered me about it. But in the end, I just couldn’t bring myself to consider it a book I enjoyed.
While the storyline of The Arthurian Omen had a lot of potential, it was just not well-written. It started out interesting, but quickly progressed into the unbelievable/ridiculous realm. There were too many coincidences for it to be a believable novel. Additionally, the ending was unsatisfying and way too abrupt; I wasn’t content with the final explanation of who was responsible for what happened. Additionally, there wasn’t much history included in this book, which made it difficult to enjoy because that is usually the best part of historical thrillers. If there’s little history to learn about and the story isn’t very good, that isn’t much to go on.
The most difficult aspect of The Arthurian Omen was the writing style. It was choppy at best, and sentences in the same paragraph often didn’t seem to relate to one another. There was no smoothness whatsoever, which made for a jarring read at times. For example, here is an excerpt from page 19:
“In the process, Rachael’s killer would undoubtedly have to be dealt with as well. Fortunately, Maren had some self-defense training in the martial arts. Unfortunately, she was riddled with new grief that was almost more than she could bear.”
Additionally, the dialogue is not written as people actually speak. It was as if the author did not have intimate knowledge of the way people from England and Wales talk, though the American English dialogue isn’t exactly believable either.
I really wish I had liked The Arthurian Omen because I was so excited by the premise, but unfortunately it was not to be. While I don’t think I will be trying any more books by this author and can’t recommend this book, I do hope more historical thrillers will be written about the Arthur legend. I still think it’s an interesting topic and would love to read more novels about it!