cover image Camelot


. Philomel Books, $19.95 (198pp) ISBN 978-0-399-22540-6

Ten original stories and a song draw upon the many legends of Camelot, ranging in their focus from the youth of Arthur and Guinevere to Arthur's death and beyond. As Yolen says, some ""are humorous, some glamorous, some historical, and some quite tragic."" Some also are better than others. Particularly striking are Anne McCaffrey's dramatic tale of a Briton warlord's quest for Libyan horses to enrich the bloodlines of his cavalry; and Nancy Springer's poignant memories of a wiser Mordred, awaiting the return of Arthur. Lynne Pledger looks at Guinevere's coming to Camelot from a feminist perspective, Mark W. Tiedemann imagines what came after the final battle, and Terry Pratchett finds humor in a scientific explanation of the sword in the stone. Some entries don't measure up, such as Greg Costikyan's strained tale of the return of not Arthur but JFK when the U.S. faces an apparently resurgent ""evil empire."" But the overall quality is high, and 10 color plates give the feel of a traditional gift book. Enjoyable new perspectives on a classic theme. Ages 8-up. (Sept.)