Raven (a.k.a. Micah of Greenfarm), the young son of a poor tenant farmer, lives just outside of Camelot. Like other poor farmers, he has no interaction with the reigning monarch, the great King Arthur, but his station means nothing to him when some of King Arthur’s knights rape and murder his sister. Raven swears an oath that transcends social station and nobility; he vows to avenge. Becoming a member of the royal household, Raven manages to get closer and closer to his targets. Cary James’s novel is full of adventure, intrigue, passion, hatred, and questioned loyalty.
Even the legendary Camelot seems dull in this lackluster first novel. Disingenuously narrated by Micah of Greenfarm, a peasant who calls himself ``the Raven,'' the story begins with the rape and murder of Micah's sister by five of King Arthur's knights. Micah vows vengeance and, driven by spite, moves quickly through the ranks of the king's court. He distinguishes himself in battle, manages three orgasms in each of his nights abed and attains ever higher stature even as he asserts his peasant roots. After a brief time in France, Micah (now known as Michel de Verdeur) returns to England just in time to see Camelot unravel. The novel's conception of Arthur's reign is of a government rent asunder by Guinevere's infidelity with Lancelot, but this astute premise is undercut by the narrative's insistence on being politically correct: the few Jews who appear, for instance, are benevolent toward Micah and ill-treated by everyone else. With its tendentious, first-person narration, James's debut, for all its inherent drama and expertly rendered period detail, is a pale and plodding affair.