I remember buying this book when I was a teenager and thinking it was so cool, a different take on King Arthur from a female point of view. Now, reading it again as an adult, I still think it’s cool.
Lisa Ann Sandell’s Song of the Sparrow is told from the perspective of Elaine of Ascolat, the Lady of Shalott. Forced to leave the island as a young girl, Elaine grew up among only men, soldiers at that. So when a beautiful lady arrives in their camp, Gwynivere, Arthur’s bride-to-be, Elaine is excited to finally have a bosom friend. Gwynivere, however, does not share Elaine’s enthusiasm. It’s not until everything depends on them working together that the girls finally open up and see they can learn a lot from each other.
This line of Arthurian lore follows more along the lines of the film King Arthur, highlighting him as a battle commander taking lead when the Roman leader died and working to unite Briton and defeat the Saxons. It’s way, way different than all the other King Arthur books I’ve read lately, so it was a nice change of pace (just the ticket to make me interested again in diving back down the rabbit hole…).
My one difficulty with this book, which I don’t recall having as a teen, is that it’s written in verse. But I still get tripped up when verses don’t rhyme (except when I write it, because then I know the beat I’m going for). So I found myself a few times struggling because it doesn’t read the same as a novel, but it feels halting to try to break where the author does.
Otherwise, I’d say it’s a classic teen telling of the story, with Lancelot and Gwynivere, Elaine loving Lancelot from afar, then finding out maybe a hero is different than a lover, plus the pivotal coming into their own moment for Gwynivere and Elaine, overcoming the odds to reach a happy ending for everyone (or almost everyone).
All in all, it’s a fun read, and quick, once you just get going and don’t worry about how you’re “supposed” to read it.