Tor, Jul 2004, 14.95, 351 pp.
Caius Merlyn Brittanicus fears that the next assassin sent by his family's enemy Ironhair might prove successful and kill his nephew, eight-year-old Arthur Pendragon. He decides the future leader of his beloved Camulod must be kept safe until he is ready to rule. Merlyn takes Arthur north to Ravenglass, a haven across the sea from Eire where he can expect sanctuary from King Derek and several friends. Still even with Merlyn ready for seemingly any contingency in what should be a haven, another attack is averted by the sorceress Shelagh.
Derek provides the Camulodians an abandoned Roman fort that they can easily defend from assault. Inside the fort over the next few years, Arthur learns how to be a warrior- soldier using a blade made from the Skystone with an Excalibur symbol etched on it, a military strategist and tactician, and a nurturing but firm ruler of all the people.
The trade paperback version of the fifth Camulod Chronicles, THE FORT AT RIVER'S BEND, is a deep historical piece that showcases in incredible layers the post Roman ancient world of British Cambria. The story line has plenty of intrigue, but the action is on a smaller scale as there is no epic battle, but more a coming of age tale. The secondary cast is an interesting group though Arthur seems a bit too perfect during the years in training for a preadolescent teen. Still fans of the series will appreciate Jack Whyte's intense look at a bygone era.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner