4.7/5 Barnes & Noble
Publication date 1 May 2007
ISBN 0-439-91848-0 (1st HB)
Pages 416 pp (1st HB)
Originally published 1 May 2007
Publisher Scholastic Corporation
|Country United States, Australia, and New Zealand|
Media type Print (hardback & paperback)
Genres Historical Fiction, Adventure fiction, Young adult fiction
Similar Young adult fiction books, King Arthur books
Song of the sparrow by lisa ann sandell
Song of the Sparrow is a young adult novel by Lisa Ann Sandell, published in 2007. It is written completely in lyrical form. It is set during the Dark Ages in Britain and is a retelling of the story of The Lady of Shalott a figure from Arthurian legend.
- Song of the sparrow by lisa ann sandell
- Song of the sparrow book trailer
- Plot summary
Song of the sparrow book trailer
After her mother was murdered by a Pict warrior and her family's house on the island of Shalott was burned to ashes, the 8-year-old Elaine of Ascolat goes to live with her two brothers, Lavain and Tirry, and her father in a British army encampment. She quickly makes friends with many of the camp's occupants, including Arthur, Lancelot, Tristan, and Gawain. Over the years Elaine grows into a beautiful 16-year-old girl and performs all of the menial, household tasks and healing for the camp's soldiers. She also falls in love with her childhood playmate Lancelot, who has become Arthur's right-hand man- a position made even more important after Arthur is forced to assume leadership after the camp's leader Aurelius is poisoned. Many of the other leaders resent Arthur's youth despite his experience and some leave the camp. The night that Arthur is proclaimed leader, Lancelot tells Elaine that he will be sent to win over Lodengrance because he will be needed at Arthur's round table. Arthur is then given his title by the Merlin, Taliesin.
As one of the only two women in the camp (the other being Morgan), Elaine feels somewhat awkward but finds herself flattered when Lancelot tells her that she is a grown woman. The two part ways and soon after Tristan comes up to tell Elaine how he came to be part of the army. The following day Elaine pricks her finger while sewing Tirry's clothes, which she sees as a bad omen. She begins crying and runs from the tent, only to be found and comforted by Morgan in the other woman's tent. Arthur then enters the tent to discuss the planned attack on the Saxons. While he doesn't want to murder anyone, he knows that this must be done to protect the people. A few days later Lancelot returns from his mission with Lodengrance and his beautiful daughter Gwynivere. She is set to be wed to Arthur, which makes Gwynivere unhappy. Lancelot confesses that he is in love with Gwynivere and ultimately considers Elaine a child, which crushes her. To make matters worse Gwynivere treats Elaine cruelly and views herself as superior to Elaine. To get back at her Elaine and Tristan place a frog in Gwynivere's embroidery pouch.
Afterwards Tristan warns Elaine not to follow the men to the Saxons. This warning ends up being in vain as Elaine sets off after the men shortly after their departure. She almost dies crossing a river and is eventually caught by Saxon soldiers. Gwynivere, who had been following Elaine, then appears and the two try to fight off the attackers. They are unsuccessful and they are taken to the Saxon camp as prisoners. Elaine later awakens to the sound of Arthur's army fighting the Saxons. She begins talking to Gwynivere about her worries and her own senselessness. This softens Gwynivere towards Elaine and she admits her own personal worries and jealousy. As the two women spend more time in the camp they overhear the Saxons planning a surprise attack on Arthur, which prompts them to begin planning their escape. They escape by digging their way out of their prison and Elaine decides to serve as a distraction for Gwynivere, who runs off to warn Arthur. Elaine manages to make her way to the river and just before she can climb inside a boat and escape, a Saxon arrow pierces her chest. She then crawls into the boat and floats downstream, where she blacks out and is found by Arthur's men.
As Elaine heals from her wound Arthur decides to move the camp back to Carelon-Usk, a process that is very tiring for Elaine. During this time she receives visits from many, including Lancelot and the two reconcile and rekindle their friendship. Tristan also joins Elaine at one point, where he confesses that he has been jealous of Lancelot because he has been in love with Elaine. This shocks Elaine, who realizes that she's in love with him as well. Upon returning to camp they all gather at the round table where Arthur invites everyone to start a new life and city with him in that very location. Elaine and Tristan, Elaine's family, and many of Elaine's friends stand with their consent to build their new city and establish their freedom in Camelot.
Critical reception for Song of the Sparrow has been positive. The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and Kliatt both praised the work, with the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books writing "Even with the feminine perspective and heavy emphasis on love, the effectively creepy descriptions of the prophesying Merlin, the terse metaphors of blood and war, and the undeniable masculinity of the camp are effective selling points to extend the audience." The Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy praised the work for its easy to understand language and recommended it as a companion piece to other works about Arthurian legends. Booklist gave Song of the Sparrow a mixed review, criticizing its "improbable conclusion" and commenting that its "distilled nature does not always allow for the rich detail and development that many readers seek in historical fiction" while also remarking that "the unadorned writing style reflects Sandell's magic-flee interpretations, rooting the characters in the bloody business of pre-Camelot power wrangling."