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Spear

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The girl knows she has a destiny before she even knows her name. She grows up in the wild, in a cave with her mother, but visions of a faraway lake come to her on the spring breeze, and when she hears a traveler speak of Artos, king of Caer Leon, she knows that her future lies at his court. And so, brimming with magic and eager to test her strength, she breaks her covenant The girl knows she has a destiny before she even knows her name. She grows up in the wild, in a cave with her mother, but visions of a faraway lake come to her on the spring breeze, and when she hears a traveler speak of Artos, king of Caer Leon, she knows that her future lies at his court. And so, brimming with magic and eager to test her strength, she breaks her covenant with her mother and, with a broken hunting spear and mended armour, rides on a bony gelding to Caer Leon. On her adventures she will meet great knights and steal the hearts of beautiful women. She will fight warriors and sorcerers. And she will find her love, and the lake, and her fate.


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The girl knows she has a destiny before she even knows her name. She grows up in the wild, in a cave with her mother, but visions of a faraway lake come to her on the spring breeze, and when she hears a traveler speak of Artos, king of Caer Leon, she knows that her future lies at his court. And so, brimming with magic and eager to test her strength, she breaks her covenant The girl knows she has a destiny before she even knows her name. She grows up in the wild, in a cave with her mother, but visions of a faraway lake come to her on the spring breeze, and when she hears a traveler speak of Artos, king of Caer Leon, she knows that her future lies at his court. And so, brimming with magic and eager to test her strength, she breaks her covenant with her mother and, with a broken hunting spear and mended armour, rides on a bony gelding to Caer Leon. On her adventures she will meet great knights and steal the hearts of beautiful women. She will fight warriors and sorcerers. And she will find her love, and the lake, and her fate.

30 review for Spear

  1. 4 out of 5

    Lex Kent

    A very interesting take on part of the King Arthur legend. If you follow my reviews, it will seem like a broken record how often I mention loving retellings, especially queer ones. I also happen to be a fan of Griffith so this was a must read for me. Griffith writes stories that are compelling, with memorable characters (Aud, I still miss you), so I’m always interested to see what she will write about next. While I have to be honest that I didn’t love this read, I still really appreciated it and A very interesting take on part of the King Arthur legend. If you follow my reviews, it will seem like a broken record how often I mention loving retellings, especially queer ones. I also happen to be a fan of Griffith so this was a must read for me. Griffith writes stories that are compelling, with memorable characters (Aud, I still miss you), so I’m always interested to see what she will write about next. While I have to be honest that I didn’t love this read, I still really appreciated it and found that it stuck with me and I kept thinking about it long after I finished reading it last week. This is a novella staring a woman who wants to be “a knight of the round table” so she dresses herself as a man and goes off to prove that she belongs. While this is novella length, I thought pace wise it worked very well. It did not seem rushed and it felt like Griffith got to really pack a lot into a shorter amount of pages. I do want to mention that this is a bit of a cerebral read. What I mean by that is it’s the kind of read you want to take your time with since there is a lot packed into the words that Griffith chose to write with. This is not a light quick read that you want to fly through as you will miss too much. I actually think this is one of those rare times that this might be even better on audio because I believe hearing the words could be pretty magical. Because this is a novella, I don’t want to go into too much and give any spoilers away by accident. I will say that this made me more interested in a subject that I thought I knew pretty well already. The end notes about the histories and different versions were amazing (I hope everyone reads that part) and the way Griffith wove her story using the different legends, is really impressive. For the romance fans out there this does have a sapphic romance but it is not a main storyline of the book. I thought the way Griffith added queer characters into this tale was well done and seemed realistic since you know there were queer people in the middle ages. I would recommend this to fans of Griffith, and people looking to read a queer and more cerebral retelling of the middle period of the Arthur legend. A copy was given to me for a review.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Peter Tillman

    Nicola Griffith does a new retelling of the Arthurian legend. It started out a bit slowly, for me -- but once I figured out where she was going, I was totally caught up in the book, a long(ish) novella. If anyone in the audience has never read any of Griffith's stuff, this would be a good entry point. Highly, and enthusiastically, recommended. Jo Walton got to read it early, and liked it a lot: "This is as good as Hild and even more resonant. She handles the myth and the history both deftly and be Nicola Griffith does a new retelling of the Arthurian legend. It started out a bit slowly, for me -- but once I figured out where she was going, I was totally caught up in the book, a long(ish) novella. If anyone in the audience has never read any of Griffith's stuff, this would be a good entry point. Highly, and enthusiastically, recommended. Jo Walton got to read it early, and liked it a lot: "This is as good as Hild and even more resonant. She handles the myth and the history both deftly and beautifully. I loved this. It’s a long, long time since I read anything Arthurian I liked as much as this. I’m sorry you have to wait for it to come out, but do read it as soon as you can. Clever and gripping and just all round marvellous." https://www.tor.com/2021/08/09/jo-wal... Thanks much to the publisher and Net Galley for the e-ARC. Just published, 4/25/22

  3. 5 out of 5

    Bethany

    I am hit and miss with Arthurian adjacent books but this was an excellent story with gorgeous prose! Spear is a gender-bent, queer Arthurian tale from the perspective of a young woman who travels as a man, hoping to join Arthur's companions in fighting for what is good. (and will also win the hearts of beautiful ladies) It has magic, action, sapphic romance, and truly beautiful writing. And it's clear that the author has done her research as well! The audiobook is narrated by the author herself I am hit and miss with Arthurian adjacent books but this was an excellent story with gorgeous prose! Spear is a gender-bent, queer Arthurian tale from the perspective of a young woman who travels as a man, hoping to join Arthur's companions in fighting for what is good. (and will also win the hearts of beautiful ladies) It has magic, action, sapphic romance, and truly beautiful writing. And it's clear that the author has done her research as well! The audiobook is narrated by the author herself and that is also excellent. Authors narrating their own fiction can be hit and miss, but this was great and I would recommend it if audio is your thing. Definitely worth picking up if this has been on your radar! I received an advance audio review copy of this book via NetGalley, all opinions are my own.

  4. 4 out of 5

    JulesGP

    Seeing a new Nicola Griffith novella coming out put a spark in my heart. Spear is an Arthurian tale with a female twist which makes it even more amazing. The main character, Peretur, is raised in an isolated cave deep in a forest, warded by her mother’s magic. Her mother is deathly afraid of the two of them being found but never reveals why. Finally of age and disguised as a man, Peretur treks to the outside world, driven by a quest that is not even clear to her. She is not like others and her u Seeing a new Nicola Griffith novella coming out put a spark in my heart. Spear is an Arthurian tale with a female twist which makes it even more amazing. The main character, Peretur, is raised in an isolated cave deep in a forest, warded by her mother’s magic. Her mother is deathly afraid of the two of them being found but never reveals why. Finally of age and disguised as a man, Peretur treks to the outside world, driven by a quest that is not even clear to her. She is not like others and her uncanny abilities in battle and her free way with wildlife keep her safe on her journey to seek out King Artos and his city. It’s a short book but rich in detail. There’s never a wasted phrase or interaction. There are good action scenes and the pace ebbs and flows artfully. Everything is a brick carefully laid out. Peretur has several love interests, all women and they feel perfect in the moment, especially when she finds her true love. In poor hands, Peretur could have come off as distant and overly larger than life, but Griffith writes her as a humble soul so she is easy to like and I was invested in the outcome. The author states in the afterword that King Arthur stories are essentially fanfic with each person adding their own spin which makes sense. This is a wonderful addition. Nicola Griffith introduced me to w/w stories in the 1990’s with Ammonite, The Blue Place, and Slow River. I will forever be a fan but this book is a small treasure and I would recommend anyway. I already bought the audiobook and am looking forward to listening to Griffith’s narration as well.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Sunny

    4.5! Amazing lesbian retelling of Arthurian legend 💚💚💚💚

  6. 5 out of 5

    Matt Quann

    Some books find you at the right time. Nicola Griffith's Spear landed just as the many books I had on the go failed to grab me. As most of my regular readers will know, I'm partial to the Tordotcom novella imprint. It's usually a safe bet that if the folks at Tor enjoy it, I'll have a good time. I was also interested in an Arthurian tale having recently loved Ishiguro's The Buried Giant and the disorienting The Green Knight film. Even though the first few pages had me worrying about dizzyingly fa Some books find you at the right time. Nicola Griffith's Spear landed just as the many books I had on the go failed to grab me. As most of my regular readers will know, I'm partial to the Tordotcom novella imprint. It's usually a safe bet that if the folks at Tor enjoy it, I'll have a good time. I was also interested in an Arthurian tale having recently loved Ishiguro's The Buried Giant and the disorienting The Green Knight film. Even though the first few pages had me worrying about dizzyingly fancy prose, it only took a 10 page adjustment period before I was drawn in. Griffith writes evocative prose that made me feel like I was walking across a moss-capped hill, or facing down a menacing knight in red leather armour. Really, if the book had just seen Peretur running around the lands encountering friend, foe, and strange beastie it would have been enough for me. Instead, Griffith introduces a Camelot/Caer Leon that is both familiar, yet new. Through Peretur's eyes we meet a court who has stumbled into the uncanny while going about their business of "bettering" the world. I expected Arthur and Lancelot (who go here by the old Welsh spellings) to play a much larger role, but instead got something quite different. Really, the story is more concerned with Peretur finding her place in the world, which also includes a hefty dose of magical genealogy. I was reminded of a few novels while reading this one. One of my more recently read, The Song of Achilles, came to mind for it's collision of mythology, queerness, and excellent retelling. Though the thought seems obvious, both the leads in Spear and She Who Became the Sun are women living as men with fierce determination and resilience. It's fine company to be in, really. This one is easily recommendable to anyone craving anything like the aforementioned novels or, like me, someone looking for a literary palate cleanser.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Holly (Holly Hearts Books)

    *3.5 Full review to come on my YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/hollyheartsbooks *3.5 Full review to come on my YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/hollyheartsbooks

  8. 4 out of 5

    Ellie

    This is a stunning queer reimagining of the stories about King Arthur and his knights. It's a short standalone fantasy that's richly drawn and imaginative. The writing is excellent though I found my knowledge of Arthurian legends severely lacking. I appreciate the author's notes at the end where she explains the background of this story. The typical hero journey but with a twist. Violence and some dark magic but I loved how it was balanced with the good deeds of the MC - caring for others, nurtu This is a stunning queer reimagining of the stories about King Arthur and his knights. It's a short standalone fantasy that's richly drawn and imaginative. The writing is excellent though I found my knowledge of Arthurian legends severely lacking. I appreciate the author's notes at the end where she explains the background of this story. The typical hero journey but with a twist. Violence and some dark magic but I loved how it was balanced with the good deeds of the MC - caring for others, nurturing, being kind.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Misha

    I am all in for the queering of the classics. In this case, this is a queer retelling of Arthurian myth and legend. We meet a young girl raised in seclusion in a cave with her mother. She goes unnamed, her mother's paranoia part of the wild landscape she ranges, until she is ready to strike out into the world her mother has kept her from. Peretur, the name her mother finally relinquishes to her, is drawn to battle, to adventure, and to valor. She seeks Caer Leon and the court of Artos, but her p I am all in for the queering of the classics. In this case, this is a queer retelling of Arthurian myth and legend. We meet a young girl raised in seclusion in a cave with her mother. She goes unnamed, her mother's paranoia part of the wild landscape she ranges, until she is ready to strike out into the world her mother has kept her from. Peretur, the name her mother finally relinquishes to her, is drawn to battle, to adventure, and to valor. She seeks Caer Leon and the court of Artos, but her path is not a clear or direct one. Griffith's prose is almost liquid, moving with an effortless intensity throughout the telling. Much like in Hild, I felt swept into another world through the language alone and the compelling mystery of the main character, a swarthy girl mistaken for a man whose strength on the battlefield is uncanny. Her exploration of her sexuality is also central to the story. This breathes new dimension into the Arthurian landscape and I finished hoping we will hear more of Peretur.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Andreas

    Synopsis: The story follows the coming-of-age of a nameless girl becoming a fierce warrior and companion of king Arthur. She is a child of two worlds, the Irish Tuatha Dé Dannan with their magic on the one side and the Arthurian companions on the threshold to Christianity on the other side. Her mother Elen stole one of the Irish Tuatha Dé Dananns’ famous treasures, Dagda’s Cauldron, as a revenge and payment for getting kidnapped and raped. To protect both herself and her daughter, she had to hide Synopsis: The story follows the coming-of-age of a nameless girl becoming a fierce warrior and companion of king Arthur. She is a child of two worlds, the Irish Tuatha Dé Dannan with their magic on the one side and the Arthurian companions on the threshold to Christianity on the other side. Her mother Elen stole one of the Irish Tuatha Dé Dananns’ famous treasures, Dagda’s Cauldron, as a revenge and payment for getting kidnapped and raped. To protect both herself and her daughter, she had to hide in the Welsh wilderness and surround their cave with mighty geas magic. As the story starts, they use the magic cauldron as a plain normal cooking bowl, eating every day from it. The girl has got no name, because names give magical leverage, but her mother calls her Tal for “payment”. The other world, yet unknown to her, is the court of king Arthur where she wants to become one of his companions, disguised as a (male) knight. Just before leaving, the yet unnamed girl asks her mother for her name (please note how she uses singular-They in the following internal monologue): A name, she thinks, is what makes a person who they are. A name is how they know themself. Unwillingly, her mother gives up the protection of having no name, and she is known as Peretur. Arthur’s companions and Arthur himself don’t welcome her with open arms, because they feel something uncanny about her, and she doesn’t reveal her parents to them. She has to prove herself as a protector of the farmers, gets rid of bandits, faces many trials, and finally defeats the Red Knight. Her chosen weapon are two spears which she found on the way. Arthur’s companions are fully convinced now, but Arthur himself needs yet another great deed to accept her: His wife can’t become children, and she needs to be healed by drinking from the Holy Grail. Peretur knows exactly where it is – back in her mother’s cave! Review: Now, look at this awesome cover by Hugo winner Rovina Cai! She captured the novel’s essence perfectly – there’s the magical cauldron as a hanging bowl, the red rider, a wooded thicket, and a wooden fort wall. Also, the typescript resembles those early medieval manuscripts. But wait, there are more of those great illustrations coming, as one can see at Tor.com. Those illustrations are yet another reason to get the hardcover edition! I didn’t go unprepared into this novel, already knew that it is set in 6th century, embracing magic and the Arthurian legends. The first 20% of the novel really got me involved, it was pure immersion, in the same narration style as Hild. The magic is not the fireball wielding one, but a far more soft version. It’s the magic of knowing, feeling, which makes Peretur understand why the horses are nervous or how her foe will react. Or small thinks, like guiding lost sheep to better places: She was smiling to herself about the foolish old sheep, and sending it news of where it might find tender grass suitable for its mouth. Griffith is a big fan of Arthurian legends, and it shows. She did a genius cover by combining Irish mythology with the Arthurian: all four treasures of the Tuatha Dé find their way into this story. Of course, there is the sword Excalibur, addressed with its Welsh name Caledfwylch which stuck in the Stone of Fal. The Holy Grail is combined with Dagda’s Cauldran in an absolutely fascinating way. and finally the Spear of Lugh also appears. You won’t miss anything Arthurian, as the companions are all around, including the Lady of the Lake and Myrddyn/Merlin. This integration of two legendary settings doesn’t hinder Griffith at all to also include a modern touch of storytelling. First of all, her protagonist Peretur is a woman disguising as a knight. She is also a lesbian, enjoying some juicy encounters not only with farmer wives. Lancelot is great on horse, but is disabled with a lame leg, and he is a people of colour with his Spanish origins. As Griffith explains in her longer afterword: Crips, queers, woman and other genders, and people of colour are an integral part of the history of Britain. Enough praise, you really should buy and read this book!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Danika at The Lesbrary

    Reading Nicola Griffith’s books feels like an intellectual expansion for me: it’s clear how carefully she considers her words and how deeply the setting is researched. While that can feel like a barrier to get into it, it also means that there is so much depth and richness to the story, which more than makes up for me stumbling through the first chapter or so. This is one of the few books I’ve ever read that made me gasp out loud as I read it. I’m not usually an expressive reader, so that was a s Reading Nicola Griffith’s books feels like an intellectual expansion for me: it’s clear how carefully she considers her words and how deeply the setting is researched. While that can feel like a barrier to get into it, it also means that there is so much depth and richness to the story, which more than makes up for me stumbling through the first chapter or so. This is one of the few books I’ve ever read that made me gasp out loud as I read it. I’m not usually an expressive reader, so that was a surprise. This novella is precisely plotted, both building up an expansive world and mythology while moving through a lean story that deserves its own spot among the most renowned Arthur legends. It feels timeless, but also has a depth that makes these people feel real and relatable. I enjoyed reading the afterword, where the author both lays out her substantial research into the setting while also delighting in being able to create a mishmash of many different Arthur stories–with her own queer twist, of course. She describes how this is the great tradition of Arthur stories: they are all essentially fan fiction, remixing the versions that came before. Though Griffith borrows elements from many other stories, this narrative stands alone, feeling cohesive and layered, even if you (like me) don’t recognize the references or inspirations. (Oh, and I didn’t even mention the handful of gorgeous illustrations throughout!) This is a small book that packs a big punch, and I was surprised how moved I was by the love story, considering that romance didn’t play much of a role for the first section of the book. I am definitely now on board for anything Griffith writes, and I can’t wait to explore her backlist. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I just read her Writer’s Manifesto, and I’ll be off fanning my face for a bit. Full review at the Lesbrary.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Lata

    4.5 stars. A wonderfully told, queer version of a King Arthurian story about a girl raised in isolation and secrecy by her fearful mother, who becomes a fearsome warrior. The protagonist, Peretur, teaches herself to hunt and fight, and appears at Caer Leon (Artos’ Court), disguised as a young man, eager to become one of his Companions. Peretur must prove herself worthy, as Artos instinctively mistrusts her. She demonstrates her martial abilities (which are uncanny), she watches Court life (and su 4.5 stars. A wonderfully told, queer version of a King Arthurian story about a girl raised in isolation and secrecy by her fearful mother, who becomes a fearsome warrior. The protagonist, Peretur, teaches herself to hunt and fight, and appears at Caer Leon (Artos’ Court), disguised as a young man, eager to become one of his Companions. Peretur must prove herself worthy, as Artos instinctively mistrusts her. She demonstrates her martial abilities (which are uncanny), she watches Court life (and susses out the relationship amongst Artos Gwynnefar and Llanza), and the loveliest part of this book is her meeting and getting to know the fierce Nimuë. This is a gorgeously written and nicely queer interpretation of the ancient legend of Camelot. Nicola Griffith’s story feels like a fable but has the scope and tragedy of an epic, beginning with Peretur’s quiet childhood and youth, as she learns to interpret what surrounds her and gains vital skills, all while some terrible danger looms over her life. The scope expands as Peretur decides to make her way to Artos’ Court. I loved how Peretur has a strong connection to the land and creatures around her; for example, her quiet understanding of the needs and feelings of her horses Bony and Broc, and her ability to anticipate how someone would move gave her a near mythic ability to fight. But what made the book for me was her powerful connection to Nimuë, and how these two indomitable women managed Artos and Gwynnefar, and kept secrets to prevent disaster to everyone. This is a glorious, beautiful, intense story. Thank you to Netgalley and to Macmillan-Tor/Forge for this ARC in exchange for my review.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Dannii Elle

    This was such an enchanting and exhilarating read, as full of as much mythology as it was whimsy. Review to follow.

  14. 4 out of 5

    C.L. Clark

    Perfect.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Esme N

    “It was nothing like the stories.” The girl grew up in a cave with her mother. She doesn’t know her name, but when she sees visions of a faraway lake and whispers of the King from a traveller, she knows her destiny. Leaving everything she’s ever known, armed with a name she’s only just learned, the girl goes to find her love, her lake and her fate. WHAT a delightfully queer, gender-bent retelling of Peretur’s story (for those of y’all with a similarly limited knowledge of the knights of the round “It was nothing like the stories.” The girl grew up in a cave with her mother. She doesn’t know her name, but when she sees visions of a faraway lake and whispers of the King from a traveller, she knows her destiny. Leaving everything she’s ever known, armed with a name she’s only just learned, the girl goes to find her love, her lake and her fate. WHAT a delightfully queer, gender-bent retelling of Peretur’s story (for those of y’all with a similarly limited knowledge of the knights of the round table, Percival might be a more familiar name). This book was unapologetically sapphic from very early on, so I was basically putty in the hands of this story from the get-go. I haven’t engaged with Arthurian legend in really any way other than BBC’s Merlin and a community production of “Spamalot: the Monty Python Musical” that my parents were in. I am weary of damning with faint praise, but this is definitely the best of the three. Although I’m sure most if not all of you are fluent in Old Welsh, those of you who may be rusty might want to reference a pronunciation guide or at the very least look up the slightly more English looking spellings of these names. For example, Myrddyn is Merlin. The Author’s Note is also a great point of reference if you missed a couple of your Arthurian Legend 101 classes. In all, this book is an old tale of an adventuring knight, being told to you at a campfire. It made me want to take up my own broken spear and go to find my own adventure. I think that might just be the point. Spear-ited Playlist: Blacksnake // Charming Disaster Wholeness and the Implicate Order // The Last Dinosaur the fruits // Paloma 🌟women🌟: “Every time one of them fastened a tie, or pulled up hose, the other remembered untying it or pulling them down.”

  16. 5 out of 5

    Andy

    I really enjoyed this one! The author read the audiobook and did a wonderful job narrating it! Spear is a King Arthur retelling and follows a young girl who grows up in the wild. Her mother was hunted and has taken to hiding the two away. But as the girl continues to grow she is given visions of a lake. Then she hears of someone speak of Artos, king of Caer Leon, and she knows her future lies at his court. This novella follows her journey to get to Caer Leon and the destiny she finds there. This I really enjoyed this one! The author read the audiobook and did a wonderful job narrating it! Spear is a King Arthur retelling and follows a young girl who grows up in the wild. Her mother was hunted and has taken to hiding the two away. But as the girl continues to grow she is given visions of a lake. Then she hears of someone speak of Artos, king of Caer Leon, and she knows her future lies at his court. This novella follows her journey to get to Caer Leon and the destiny she finds there. This book took me on a journey. I really enjoyed seeing the MC grow throughout her journeys. This is a short book, but it's packed with action. Also, I loved seeing the polyam relationship between Arthur, Gwen and Lancelot. It was definitely a thing. Definitely would read what Griffith writes next! Rep: Sapphic white cis female MC, sapphic cis female side characters, BIPOC cis male side character. CWs: Death, death of parent, violence, injury/injury detail, blood. Moderate: alcohol consumption, sexual content, infertility, rape, gaslighting. Minor: Gore, sexual violence, sexual harassment, sexism, classism.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Laynie Rose

    Spear is the sapphic retelling of Arthurian legend I never knew I needed. The writing was gorgeous and enthralling, and the magic and the romance captivating and wonderous. Everything about it was a complete knock out! As a queer reader who grew up on BBC's Merlin, it was everything I needed! Spear is the sapphic retelling of Arthurian legend I never knew I needed. The writing was gorgeous and enthralling, and the magic and the romance captivating and wonderous. Everything about it was a complete knock out! As a queer reader who grew up on BBC's Merlin, it was everything I needed!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sarah B

    So I read this one this afternoon and enjoyed it a lot! At the beginning I thought it had a very strong fairy tale quality to it and then later as I got much farther I saw some similarity with King Arthur tales. Except at the same time it is an all new story too. With new twists and new ideas. So one of the things I liked best in here was how close Peretor was to the animals around her, especially to her horses. She has two of them: Bony her gelding and then later she has Broc. She certainly see So I read this one this afternoon and enjoyed it a lot! At the beginning I thought it had a very strong fairy tale quality to it and then later as I got much farther I saw some similarity with King Arthur tales. Except at the same time it is an all new story too. With new twists and new ideas. So one of the things I liked best in here was how close Peretor was to the animals around her, especially to her horses. She has two of them: Bony her gelding and then later she has Broc. She certainly seemed to have an instant knack for actually communicating with them and the ability to calm them down instantly. And she certainly put their care first too. But the story itself was actually interesting and I am not one for reading retellings of King Arthur very often. The characters have different names but it is kind of obvious too. But the viewpoint is coming from a totally new character: Peretor who you could say is on the outside looking in. Basically she wants to be a knight but there are some very unusual things about her too. Like the fact she grew up in a cave with her mother and was isolated from people! That is not exactly a thing easy to explain. And of course there is some magic and quests in here too. The story flowed very smoothly and I read this in one sitting. Great story!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Para (wanderer)

    Beautifully written, very queer Arthurian novella that finally broke the streak of bad luck I had with last three books. It has the typical rush-and-halt pacing of a novella that usually bothers me a little, especially at the start, but I have a great weakness for "woman dresses as a man and sets off to find adventure" type stories, doubly so if sapphic. And the prose was wonderful. Once I picked it up for good, I could not put it down. However, what really made it come together and elevated it Beautifully written, very queer Arthurian novella that finally broke the streak of bad luck I had with last three books. It has the typical rush-and-halt pacing of a novella that usually bothers me a little, especially at the start, but I have a great weakness for "woman dresses as a man and sets off to find adventure" type stories, doubly so if sapphic. And the prose was wonderful. Once I picked it up for good, I could not put it down. However, what really made it come together and elevated it from 4 to 5 was the afterword where the author explains how the story came to be - I'm not familiar with Arthurian myth, so it was incredibly helpful, and the pieces come together so neatly I was in awe. In short, go read it! Enjoyment: 4/5 Execution: 5/5 Recommended to: those looking for a wonderfully written, queer Arthurian story based on the Welsh tradition More reviews on my blog, To Other Worlds.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Aisha

    Extremely tight narrative. There is nothing on paper that's not relevant to the plot, which itself moves quite fast. It's a short read and keeps you engaged throughout. Extremely tight narrative. There is nothing on paper that's not relevant to the plot, which itself moves quite fast. It's a short read and keeps you engaged throughout.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Huck

    4.5 stars

  22. 5 out of 5

    Taylor (Virginia Woolf’s Actual Wife)

    That was so fun! And so gay! Thinking about getting really into the Arthurian legends for a bit

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kahlia

    Spear was one of my most anticipated books of 2022, despite the fact that I’ve never read any of Nicola Griffith’s other works (because of, really; a shiny new book is always the best way to get me into an author, at which point I know I will then dedicate myself to their backlist). I also really love Arthurian myths. Thankfully, it didn’t disappoint. This is a lyrical story about Peretur, a Welsh girl with an uncanny connection to nature, who sets out on a quest to find her true self. The highli Spear was one of my most anticipated books of 2022, despite the fact that I’ve never read any of Nicola Griffith’s other works (because of, really; a shiny new book is always the best way to get me into an author, at which point I know I will then dedicate myself to their backlist). I also really love Arthurian myths. Thankfully, it didn’t disappoint. This is a lyrical story about Peretur, a Welsh girl with an uncanny connection to nature, who sets out on a quest to find her true self. The highlight is definitely the prose; it’s rich and ethereal, much like the main character herself. Griffith smartly blends inspirations from the original text (of note, this story adopts the relatively free-form structure of ancient ballads), with more modern language that brilliantly creates a sense of time and place. Spear feels a lot like a fine, hand-knitted garment; the finished piece is smooth and faultless, but you can also sense the amount of time and effort that went into every word. The story itself is a simple one, but it’s easy to get swept up in Peretur’s adventure. For those looking specifically for a queer retelling, it’s both an important part of the story and just another part of Peretur’s life; the women she loves shape her story, but she certainly doesn’t give a lot of thought to examining her sexuality, which is want for the time period. Spear does suffer a little from the fault borne by many of the Arthurian legends – Peretur’s magical gifts do make her a little too perceptive and skilled at times to really connect with, despite Griffith’s best efforts to hone in on the challenges she faces in her emotional journey as a counterpoint – and some of the side characters are very lightly sketched. But those are my only real complaints in an otherwise wonderful story. There’s a very extensive author’s note at the back (it made up about 10 per cent of the e-book ARC) where Griffith’s talks about her research into Arthurian Britain and the wide array of myths and stories about Peretur (known under various names) that influenced Spear, and which made me appreciate the care with which this story was crafted and told even more. Though my favourite part of the author’s note is this comment that: ‘… for me, historical accuracy also meant that this could not be a story of only straight, white non-disabled men’, because it’s straight to the point but also sums up Griffith’s efforts to draw upon the widest possible understanding of the Arthurian legends: both as they originally were, and as we re-interpret them in our modern world.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Toya (the reading chemist)

    I don't even know how to put my feelings into words on this one because it just was not all that enjoyable for me. I didn't even realize that this story was an Arthurian retelling because the first 20% or so of the book just focuses on the main characters relationship with nature and the captivity that her mother holds over her. I can appreciate that this take on the classic is much more inclusive especially with the polyam relationship between Lancelot, Guinevere, and Arthur. Besides that thoug I don't even know how to put my feelings into words on this one because it just was not all that enjoyable for me. I didn't even realize that this story was an Arthurian retelling because the first 20% or so of the book just focuses on the main characters relationship with nature and the captivity that her mother holds over her. I can appreciate that this take on the classic is much more inclusive especially with the polyam relationship between Lancelot, Guinevere, and Arthur. Besides that though, there just wasn't much in this story for me. I found myself more lost than anything, and the lack of any sort of wrap up in the end just left a lot to be desired. Thank you to Tordotcom for providing a review copy. This did not influence my review. All opinions are my own.

  25. 4 out of 5

    fatma

    have yet to find a fantasy novella that has really won me over but as it was, i didnt mind this one

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kate (Feathered Turtle Press Reviews)

    Man, Spear is slim, gorgeous retelling of Arthurian lore, breathing new life not only into the leading character of Sir Percival—here named Peretur—but to others as well. We follow Peretur as she grows and follows her destiny. She is a character who gets things DONE. When she meets the Companions and asks to fight for Artos, they tell her they can’t take a nobody with no deeds to her name into their rank, so she goes out and DOES DEEDS. However… for the first half, Peretur is a little TOO good. N Man, Spear is slim, gorgeous retelling of Arthurian lore, breathing new life not only into the leading character of Sir Percival—here named Peretur—but to others as well. We follow Peretur as she grows and follows her destiny. She is a character who gets things DONE. When she meets the Companions and asks to fight for Artos, they tell her they can’t take a nobody with no deeds to her name into their rank, so she goes out and DOES DEEDS. However… for the first half, Peretur is a little TOO good. Not so much it’s boring to read about her fights, but we’re halfway through before something acts as a counter to her talent. Spear is compact and concise, and Griffith does a lovely job setting up Peretur’s quest and an equally good job tying things up in a satisfying way. Griffith’s prose is lyrical, but not carelessly: every word feels carefully wrought, but not overwritten. Spear also breaks away from a uniformly straight and white and male and non-disabled cast. It’s lovely, and a breath of fresh air. It’s also a really smart retelling, and it’ll be easy to miss (and therefore appreciate!) some of what Griffith’s achieved here if you don’t know much about the various renditions of King Arthur. Griffith talks a bit about them in the Afterword, which is a thoughtful inclusion. The only thing… as much as I enjoyed Spear, I think it’s gonna be hit or miss for the average reader. There’s romance, but it’s not a big romantic book. Peretur is a good protagonist, but she’s not iconic. But you shouldn’t expect Spear (or any book) to be something it’s not. Which is: a tidy retelling with GORGEOUS prose and inclusive cast. (Also, with Peretur’s affinity for animals and how she dresses as a man to become a knight, Spear’s got some BIG Alanna vibes, so if you loved those books as a kid too, this is like a grownup version.) Story—★★★★☆ Characters—★★★★☆ Writing Style—★★★★★ (4.25 Stars) Themes and Representation—★★★★☆ Enjoyment—★★★☆☆ Overall—★★★★☆ Recommended For... Readers who enjoyed the Alanna the Lionness series; readers interested in genderbent/genderswapped or inclusive retellings.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Paul Williams

    I was lucky to be at the International Conference of the Fantastic in the Arts 43 last week. Nicola Griffith was there, and she brought a box of copies of this new novella of hers, which were handed out for free. This was really fortunate, because she just came onto my radar a couple months ago and I've been wanting to read some of her work. So I snatched up a copy, and that evening I even got it autographed. Am I bragging? Yes. Yes I am. Anyway, this novella is quite charming and clever. Nothing I was lucky to be at the International Conference of the Fantastic in the Arts 43 last week. Nicola Griffith was there, and she brought a box of copies of this new novella of hers, which were handed out for free. This was really fortunate, because she just came onto my radar a couple months ago and I've been wanting to read some of her work. So I snatched up a copy, and that evening I even got it autographed. Am I bragging? Yes. Yes I am. Anyway, this novella is quite charming and clever. Nothing is wasted, thanks to the demands of such a slim book. I confess, I don't know too much about the Percival mythos (Griffith uses the Welsh Peretur) so it's difficult for me to tell where Griffith is really exploring/exploding myth. Because of that confusion, I'm not really certain whether the book is actually clever or not. I do think it's at least 3.5 stars, but I want to let the book sit a bit and do a bit of research into the Arthurian mythos to see if I can better parse out this book. I will say that the gender-bending works quite well – it never feels really forced or contrived. Fans of Griffith will probably really like it. Fans of Arthurian reimaginings will probably like it. Fans of cleanly written medieval fantasies will probably like it. Worth reading, and probably worthy of a reread, also.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Shima

    Read this for: -A gender-bending sapphic retelling of Sir Percival and Arthurian legends. -Intricate sensory descriptions of medieval Wales. -A quieter kind of hero's journey. Do not read this if: - You want a fast-paced story. - You want traditional adventure/fantasy. - You mainly want to see Merlin do awesome magic. My thoughts: 3.5 stars A quieter, language-focused, description reach story of a female, queer, sir-Percival, and a multi-ethnicity, non-able-bodied, queer, set of knights for the ro Read this for: -A gender-bending sapphic retelling of Sir Percival and Arthurian legends. -Intricate sensory descriptions of medieval Wales. -A quieter kind of hero's journey. Do not read this if: - You want a fast-paced story. - You want traditional adventure/fantasy. - You mainly want to see Merlin do awesome magic. My thoughts: 3.5 stars A quieter, language-focused, description reach story of a female, queer, sir-Percival, and a multi-ethnicity, non-able-bodied, queer, set of knights for the round table. Doesn't it sound fantastic? But, I have to say, I was, just a little bored sometimes. (Note: Don't pick this up when you want a fast-paced, attention-grabbing adventure to distract you from your life.) Also, what can I say? I guess at the end of the day, my favourite queer version of Arthurian legend will always be the ArthurxMerlin fanfictions written for the tv series.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Kyle Erickson

    This novella was really well written. I enjoyed the fresh perspective. Unfortunately, it fell into the problem I have with many novellas, which is that they are not my preferred length. The second half of this novella was pretty rushed, and I think condensing the whole thing into a short story or expanding it into a novel would have worked a lot better. Still, though, it was good. I was also under the impression it would be a retelling with Arthur as the MC but that was not the case.

  30. 5 out of 5

    rachel ☾

    dnf 44% i’m crushed, but this a dnf for now. Blog • Trigger Warning Database • Twitter • Instagram dnf 44% i’m crushed, but this a dnf for now. Blog • Trigger Warning Database • Twitter • Instagram

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