Jesus and King Arthur – maybe not the most natural of combinations, but here you are:
American Jesus: How the Son of God Became a National Icon by Stephen Prothero This fascinating books looks at the changes in American culture over the years, through the lens of how Americans have viewed Jesus. At the founding of our country, nobody paid much attention to Jesus – Christians or non-Christians. Sometime in the 18th century, Jesus rose to prominence. Since then, Jesus has been described as reflecting the ideal characteristics of the day, from feminine and merciful to powerful and masculine. But wait! It’s not just Christians doing this – the book also looks at images of Jesus from outside Christianity, from Rabbi to Yogi.
In Camelot’s Shadow by Sarah Zettel Sarah Zettel* is best known for writing hard-core science fiction (and as a side note, if you have disliked sf in the past for having either cardboard characters set up in science concepts, or operatic characters in a flimsy universe, I would seriously recommend her sci-fi books, which have both excellent real characters and real ideas. But I digress.) This latest book, however, is an Arthurian. Rejoice, ye fans of King Arthur! For here is a book which does not attempt to set a new spin on a mythos so overloaded that most recent attempts seem to crash under the weight of explaining exactly how their Arthurian universe differs from all the other ones out there. Rejoice also, fans of historical fiction, for while there is magic in the book, the setting is solidly detailed and historically correct – no 15th century velvet or 18th century potatoes here. But most of all, rejoice, fans of a good story, for this is a cracking good one, with strong characters and plot in addition to the magic and romance.
*In the interests of full disclosure, I should note that Sarah Zettel is a local author and, moreover, though I have met her only briefly, responsible for my husband joining the organization where I met him. In spite of this deep debt, I would not recommend this book to you if it weren’t really truly good.