The King’s Arrow by Michael Cadnum: C

From the inside flap:
The year is 1100, less than fifty years after the violent Norman conquest of England.

Simon, the eighteen-year-old son of a Norman nobleman and an English aristocrat, is eager to find a place for himself in a divided kingdom. Offered the chance to accompany the king on a royal hunt, Simon jumps at the opportunity, hoping this adventure will be the key to an exciting future.

But the hunt goes fatally wrong, and in the aftermath Simon finds himself fleeing for his life, forced to make choices that will forever alter his own expectations.

Was it accident or murder? In a heart-pounding tale based on true events, acclaimed author Michael Cadnum reconstructs one of history’s most fascinating mysteries.

I was pretty disappointed in The King’s Arrow, especially since I liked Cadnum’s Robin Hood retelling, In a Dark Wood. The characters were flat and undeveloped, and I certainly didn’t care about any of them.

The book is short—only a smidge over 200 pages—and the big moment happened fully two-thirds in, so most of the book was just set-up. Cadnum did try to portray the importance of status and the social systems of the day at least a little, but mostly this was occupied by the bland protagonist and his concerns.

I especially found Simon annoying at the end when, fleeing from royal guards, he commandered a vessel belonging to friends of his, a brother and sister. This action ultimately led to a completely innocent fellow getting killed, and then Simon had the gall to be “disappointed” in the female friend because she sided with her brother instead of him. Ass.

When it ended, I was left with the overwhelming impression of “Is that all?” At least it was short.

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  1. This book is pretty boring. I’m not a fast reader, so 200 pages is long for me.

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