The Circle Cast: The Lost Years of Morgan le Fay

Written by Alex Epstein
Review by Elizabeth Caulfield Felt

In the beginning she is Anna. Her father is Gorlois, lord of Trigos, and her mother is Ygraine, the beautiful Roman from Brittany. When Uter Pendragon kills Gorlois and takes Ygraine as his wife, 11-year-old Anna must flee Britannia for her life. Her mother sends her to Ireland and gives her a new name: Morgan, born from the sea.

In Ireland, Morgan becomes many people. First, she is the cousin of a minor chieftain, then she is a slave, then a Christian, then a queen. But in her center, she is always Anna/Morgan, daughter of the murdered Gorlois, hungry for vengeance. Morgan bides her time in Ireland, learning from each of her incarnations and gaining power. The land speaks to her, and she to it, and Morgan grows a magical relationship with the elements, a relationship she will need if she is ever to return to Britannia, slay Uter, and reclaim her inheritance of Din Tagell.

In The Circle Cast, Epstein skillfully blends the coming-of-age, the fairy, the revenge, and the legend. Through the poetry of Epstein’s writing, I could feel the power of the old magic that Morgan evokes when she goes “between the worlds,” and I could taste the salt sea air as she sails between her two lands.

Revenge is the sustaining force in Morgan’s lost years, and success in battle and magic are what give her power. Epstein holds true to the legendary woman Morgan le Fay in creating this story of the Anna/Morgan child. Fans of Arthurian legend will love this book, and so will everyone else. Great characters, great writing, great story.