Song of the Sparrow
Author: Lisa Ann Sandell
Pages [hardcover]: 416
Memorable Quote: Still, I look down, and the grass is so green, I cannot understand how it does not wither and die with sorrow.
Favorite Characters: Tristan & Elaine
The year is 490 AD. Fiery 16-year-old Elaine of Ascolat, the daughter of one of King Arthur’s supporters, lives with her father on Arthur’s base camp, the sole girl in a militaristic world of men. Elaine’s only girl companion is the mysterious Morgan, Arthur’s older sister, but Elaine cannot tell Morgan her deepest secret: She is in love with Lancelot, Arthur’s second-in-command. However, when yet another girl — the lovely Gwynivere– joins their world, Elaine is confronted with startling emotions of jealousy and rivalry. But can her love for Lancelot survive the birth of an empire?
I was assigned to read this book as part of the YA Best Overlooked Book Battle 2011, hosted by Alyssa over at The Shady Glade. At first I wasn’t sure what to think; I’m just starting to get into historical fiction, and this didn’t sound like something I’d ache to pick up on my own. But by giving it a chance, I was pleasantly surprised.
Song of the Sparrow follows Elaine, the only girl in an army camp full of men. She’s grown up there, away from the limitations that were enforced upon women at that time, free to roam as she pleased, though still not allowed to fight for her country. As a result, she’s often left behind, alone, as everyone she knows and loves marches off into battle.
I loved that this novel was written in verse. I didn’t know that until I began reading, and verse books are something of a guilty pleasure for me. The smooth way the lines flowed, the way each thing that came up was so beautifully described through Elaine’s perspective, kept me coming back for more, wanting to read on and on. I couldn’t get enough of it.
The characters in this book, though the minor ones dimmed in comparison to Elaine, were great. Each held true to their own purpose, and won me over, whether they were good or evil. I liked reading about how Arthur and the other knights were brotherly toward Elaine, working for her best interests and trying to protect her. And I loved how she in turn wanted to protect them, though sometimes this meant disobeying them and doing dangerous things.
The legend of King Arthur is one that I know well, though never before have I read something like this. It was a refreshing take, told from a female perspective, and actually made the women heroic, for once, instead of having the knights take all of the glory. That little ‘girl power’ addition fit in nicely.
All in all, this book was practically perfect to me. I read through it very quickly, loved every moment of it, and wish there was more. The ending was brilliant, the characters witty and captivating. I highly recommend Song of the Sparrow, even to those that do not normally read historical fiction. I don’t, and this only encourages me to read more. Though I may be disappointed; I don’t know what can live up to the standards this has set. I give it 5/5 stars.