Woven with intrigue, romance, death, sex and humor, it's an emotionally complex tale of European immigrants who have settled in the fictional town of Erdrich's previous novels, Argus, N.Dak. Bordering on magical realism, this marvelous yarn introduces a world of rich, expansive imagery and an abundance of memorably compelling characters. There's Delphine, who acts as a human table for her lover, Cyprian, an Ojibwa balancing artist. Delphine cares for her father, Roy, an alcoholic accused of neglectfully murdering an entire family. And then there's Fidelis, a former sniper for the German army who is now the singing butcher of the title. Although some breaks in cadence occur throughout the reading-it seems almost as if Erdrich is seeing the material for the first time-her soft style gradually blends with the story and, rather than seeming inappropriate, becomes invisible.
For fourteen centuries the story of Arthur was a legend, misted over by the tradition of romantic hero-tales. But he was real--a man of towering strength, a dreamer and a warrior--who actually lived, and fought, and died for his impossible dream. The man whom legend calls Arthur of Britain combined the best of Roman civilization with the fierce dedication of his Celtic ancestors. Down through the generations his passionate determination to preserve the values of decency and freedom against the darkness of barbarism has been a clarion call that speaks to the best in humankind.