The Excalibur Murders

Written by J.M.C. Blair
Review by Liz Allenby


                Merlin the Magician and King Arthur are reunited again in Camelot. This time they work to solve the brutal murder of one of Arthur’s squires, Borolet, during the theft of Excalibur and the Stone of Bran, an ancient skull-shaped artifact purported to have magical powers. Merlin and his apprentice Colin (the maiden Nimue in disguise) must use the power of reason to conjure up a miracle and catch the murderer.

                As Merlin pursues suspects, he encounters Arthur’s friends and would-be enemies, such as Pellenore, the mad king ousted by Arthur, Guenevere and Lancelot, who now have their own castle inCornwall, along with various knights and squires from Arthur’s camp. As the murderer strikes again and kills Ganelin, brother of the dead Borolet, Merlin and Nimue travel far and wide throughoutEnglandto follow leads and interview suspects. Only at the very end through Merlin’s magical tricks and sleight of hand is the killer revealed and brought to justice.

                Providing a modern take on an Arthurian legend, Blair uses contemporary voice and modern dialogue. However, Blair’s work lacks scene description, Arthurian sensibility, and authentic research into the legend. I found myself longing for rich description, fuller characterization, and a clearer motivation behind the murders. In short, I longed for the passion of Camelot.