Oi! I’m sure my UK based friends will snort at this confession, but the scones and English Breakfast tea that I had bought especially for a dreary November afternoon on the sofa with The Student Prince, made reading this truly and thoroughly British book an even more dorktastic experience. Repeat after me, my pillocks: fanfic is free, fabulous and few published fics are more fantastic!
An ode to fanfic!
...an ode to this free stuff that you have to hunt for in obscure corners of the internet. Diamonds, both polished and in the rough, that are hidden away on websites that looked fine in the late 90’s. That thrill of adrenalin when you’ve finally found a website that lets you either download your preferred format or export to Flagfic (does the L in Flagfic really serve a purpose?). The excitement when the link to a blurb you fancy is not broken and not for a WIP…and suddenly you find yourself bouncing up and down screaming: OMG JARETH THE GOBLIN KING DITCHES THE BABY FOR A TWINK?! and DEREK AND STILES AS PORN STARS?!, ARTHUR WANTS TO SEE WHAT MERLIN'S MAGIC WARD CAN DO??
Yeah, yeah, I know that’s all well and good, but are these stories actually worth reading? This is where I’m going to jump in and shout: yes! Yes you guys!
Take The Student Prince. A 387 pages long modern day, character-driven adventure in which a young Merlin suddenly finds himself sharing a room on the University of St Andrews with the nation's ideal son-in-law; Prince Arthur. There’s only one little problem. The Arthur in Merlin’s wank fantasies wasn’t an arrogant prat and a very much straight boy...
Almost every single sentence in this book is a feast of innuendo and wit injected delight. It’s typically British, with references to all things British (Blackadder, deep fried Mars bars, The Famous Five) and chock-full of sympathetic insults (plonker, git, twatwazzle, massive eejit) that I, of course, must learn by heart. Each and every character comes with a knock-you-out personality and is able to carry on an alcohol fueled conversation that makes your jaw hurt from smiling too much.
And now that I have started to ramble, I might as well tell you about the incredible unreleased sexual tension (UST) between Arthur and Merlin. The author managed to keep it up for a hot and heavy 50% of the book. I was wallowing in delight and amusement. Few writers manage to carry on with the good stuff in a way that keeps it from getting stale or feeling ridiculously stretched out (*cough* Loaded March *cough*).
It hardly mattered when the UST came to an end and the reward didn’t entirely live up to my greedy expectations. Who cares when there’s so much to enjoy otherwise, right? And honestly, the thingy with the plane perhaps went a bit too fast and too furious to suspend my disbelief, but a stoic dragon wanting an iPod to listen to Justin Bieber made up for that. And it’s entirely possible that this book would have been even better if the author had ramped up the danger and angst during the assassination attempts that Merlin had to prevent. The Harry Potter vibe was there: a thicker plot would have suited this book too.
How I could pointedly ignore a steady stream of gushing reviews on my feed all this time? I have no clue, but I deserve to do the Hammer Dance for the rest of my lame existence. In my defense, Arthurian legends, the films and that hot TV series everyone goes on about? Flew right under my radar. So if your unfamiliarity with Merthur is what’s holding you back, don’t let it. It’s okay to not know heck about these legendary guys and still love this book to pieces.
Don’t make the same mistake I initially made, my Baldricks!