There are eleventy billion books out there based on the King Arthur story, but this is one of the best Ive read. Its one of the realistic ones: Arthur isnt a king or a hero- hes a thug who wants to take as much as he can from the other thugs of post-Roman Britain and Merlin is a smooth-talking PR man whos trying to convince everyone Arthur is the one who will save them from the Saxons.
The author imagines believable origins for all the stories that have been passed down as glorious myths, but he also explores how important stories are to people who are afraid of dying in battle or just living hard, boring lives. The narrator is a girl who sometimes pretends to be a boy and the differences between these two existences are thoughtfully explored. Because of the unflinching descriptions of life in the Dark Ages (abuse, rape, wholesale slaughter) its not for younger teens.
The writing is beautiful.