The year is 1199, and the setting the borders of England and Wales. In the manor house, young Arthur de Caldicott is pressed by his father to study Greek and Latin, but he prefers to practice his tilting and archery in order to become a knight.
His friend Merlin gives the boy a shimmering obsidian stone in which he sees dragons fighting and kings being crowned, and as the visions prliferate his life becomes entwined with that of his famous namesake who pulled the sword from the stone.
This voyage into the past - enlivened by magic and transforming drugs - is convincingly read by Samuel West, and may enthral any 11 to 13-year-old who is interested in the period or who has enjoyed the first book in Crossley-Holland's planned trilogy (now on the shortlist for the Whitbread Children's Book of the Year). Others will find it insufferably whimsical.