Fiction Friday: Beneath Ceaseless Skies #361 Review

I had intended to review only one story in BCS #361, but since the two had a theme going for it, I decided to review both stories featured.

Today we’re doing a rare double review. A Once and Future Reckoning by Rajan Khanna, and Uncounted Leaves of Ends of Camelot by R.K. Duncan. You can read both here. If you haven’t guessed it by those titles, we’re focusing on a theme this time. That’s right: Camelot, King Arthur, and the magical Merlin himself.

A tale about a boy destined to be king, pulling a legendary sword embedded in stone, all for a prophecy by the wizard Merlin. Most know these kinds of stories through tales geared for younger audiences, but the real tale’s a bit darker when you get right down to it. The first story being the most mature of all, so do exercise caution when reading it.

Anywho, let’s see what’s in store, shall we?

A Once and Future Reckoning by Rajan Khanna

The story follows the prophecy dictated by Merlin, how he trained Arthur from a young boy to a mighty king, to the founding of the Knights of the Round Table, to what would inevitably be his downfall in a battle with his bastard son.

The author goes through the whole cycle of Arthur’s legend into a stunningly entertaining story. They hold nothing back and send the reader on a mystical and legendary quest as it truly is. Using terms that would have been more known in the medieval era of Britain. Names such as Artur, Gwenhwyfar, Myrddin, and Llansiloth. You can probably guess all of them without even looking them up.

Legends are definitely at the forefront, especially the Lady of the Lake subplot which is handled in a surprising and chilling way. As I’ve said before, this story captures the essence of Arthurian legend as it was meant to be told. Magical, yet chilling, coupled with a legacy etched in time. The story, though, seems to focus mainly on Merlin rather than Arthur himself. It took me halfway through the story to notice that this was from Merlin’s perspective. Granted, it does work in this regard.

Definitely a good retelling of a famous legend. Worth the read for sure.

Uncounted Leaves of Ends of Camelot, by R.K. Duncan

The story manages to be a kind of piece in the previous story, as if the two were filling in each other’s gaps, as it were. In this story, King Arthur is told Camelot will fall, a prophecy that cannot be altered. When asking Merlin what to do next, the wizard suggested to go into the forest to find the tallest tree, where his fate will be decided through visions and illusions.

While the last story was more direct and a true retelling, this one only details a specific moment, the battle against his bastard son. It’s also trippier than the other story in that a lot of dream-like visions happen when descending into Merlin’s vision of the future.

A lot of description happens in this story and given the dream-like nature, it felt confusing as to what exactly was happening. Either way, I was able to follow along fine, but some scenes can be a bit jarring.

The end squeezes nicely into the climax of the first story, but I won’t give away too much. Overall, a really good story.

Final thoughts

The two stories featured were a nice mesh of history, legend, and all the drama and brutality of the medieval period. I usually don’t read a lot of Arthurian retellings, but I think these two were a fantastic effort. Definitely worth the read, if you’re looking for something different.

That’s all for today. If you liked this article and want more from Silver Claw, check out my Patreon where I have all sorts of perks. Moonlight Blade is coming soon. Of course, the story will be free here for everyone over the coming weeks. Patrons, however, will get the full story early this fall, with Chapters 1 and 2 being released for everyone.

Take care, and safe travels, adventurer.

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