[A quick note: I read this one because I got approved on NetGalley to read the sequel. It was pretty last minute so I had to power through it. While it has been on my TBR forever, this kind of forced me to move it forward. This is a used copy I got on ABEbooks.com and I had my husband clean it up a little by spraying the edges gold. So now it feels like a one of a kind. Isn’t she beautiful?!]
“𝗛𝗲 𝗶𝘀 𝗹𝗶𝗸𝗲 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝘀𝘂𝗻. 𝗪𝗵𝗲𝗻 𝗵𝗲 𝗶𝘀 𝗳𝗼𝗰𝘂𝘀𝗲𝗱 𝗼𝗻 𝘆𝗼𝘂, 𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗿𝘆𝘁𝗵𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗶𝘀 𝗯𝗿𝗶𝗴𝗵𝘁 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝘄𝗮𝗿𝗺. 𝗘𝘃𝗲𝗿𝘆𝘁𝗵𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗶𝘀𝗽𝗼𝘀𝘀𝗶𝗯𝗹𝗲. 𝗕𝘂𝘁 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗽𝗿𝗼𝗯𝗹𝗲𝗺 𝘄𝗶𝘁𝗵 𝗸𝗻𝗼𝘄𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝘄𝗮𝗿𝗺𝘁𝗵 𝗼𝗳 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝘀𝘂𝗻 𝗶𝘀 𝗵𝗼𝘄 𝗸𝗲𝗲𝗻𝗹𝘆 𝘆𝗼𝘂 𝗳𝗲𝗲𝗹 𝗶𝘁𝘀 𝗮𝗯𝘀𝗲𝗻𝗰𝗲𝘄𝗵𝗲𝗻 𝗶𝘁 𝘀𝗵𝗶𝗻𝗲𝘀 𝗲𝗹𝘀𝗲𝘄𝗵𝗲𝗿𝗲. 𝗔𝗻𝗱 𝗮 𝗸𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗺𝘂𝘀𝘁 𝗮𝗹𝘄𝗮𝘆𝘀 𝘀𝗵𝗶𝗻𝗲 𝗲𝗹𝘀𝗲𝘄𝗵𝗲𝗿𝗲.”—Kiersten White
Guinevere has been sent to Camelot on a secret mission: protect King Arthur under the guise of Camelot’s queen. Her secrets are a small price if it means protecting Arthur from a new threat looming on the borders. Magic has been banished from Camelot, along with Merlin, but its darkness is fighting to regain footing. Guinevere might be the only hope Camelot has left, or she might just be its undoing.
This was EVERYTHING I wanted out of a King Arthur story. And FINALLY! A story rich with female heroes who don’t always need men to save them. I loved the show of female strength. But what I loved most was Lancelot’s being a woman. This gender bending concept was awesome. Overall, this Arthurian retelling was true to its roots in many ways, but offered a fresh take on the legend. It managed to trick even me! Yet, it still had all the makings of the story we love. Struggles between good and evil, duty and honor, deep seated betrayal, difficult decisions, and more. I found myself surprised by how much I enjoyed Guinevere’s plight.
The female characters in this story were a welcome change. Instead of a story centered around Arthur’s knights saving the day, we see key women stepping up to the plate. I can’t begin to tell you how refreshing this was. Guinevere went to Camelot with one purpose: protect King Arthur. This was her calling, prompted by Merlin. She was ready to do whatever necessary to protect him, even if it meant giving her own life for the future of Camelot. She was NOT a damsel in distress. She never expected to be saved by men like Arthur, even when she needed saving the most. Thank goodness there were other women who DID save her.
“𝗣𝗲𝗿𝗳𝗼𝗿𝗺𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗾𝘂𝗲𝗲𝗻𝗹𝘆 𝗱𝘂𝘁𝗶𝗲𝘀 𝘄𝗮𝘀 𝗮𝗹𝗺𝗼𝘀𝘁 𝗮𝘀 𝗲𝘅𝗵𝗮𝘂𝘀𝘁𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗮𝘀 𝗽𝗲𝗿𝗳𝗼𝗿𝗺𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗺𝗮𝗴𝗶𝗰. 𝗪𝗼𝗺𝗲𝗻 𝘁𝗿𝘂𝗹𝘆 𝘄𝗲𝗿𝗲 𝘁𝗵𝗲𝘀𝘁𝗿𝗼𝗻𝗴𝗲𝗿 𝗴𝗲𝗻𝗱𝗲𝗿. 𝗔𝗹𝗹 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝘀𝘂𝗯𝘁𝗹𝗲 𝗴𝗮𝗺𝗲𝘀 𝘁𝗵𝗲𝘆 𝗵𝗮𝗱 𝘁𝗼 𝗽𝗹𝗮𝘆, 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝘄𝗮𝘆𝘀 𝘁𝗵𝗲𝘆 𝘁𝗲𝗮𝘀𝗲𝗱 𝗽𝗼𝘄𝗲𝗿 𝗳𝗿𝗼𝗺 𝘁𝗵𝗼𝘀𝗲𝗮𝗿𝗼𝘂𝗻𝗱 𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗺! 𝗦𝗵𝗲 𝗵𝗮𝗱 𝗺𝘂𝗰𝗵 𝘁𝗼 𝗹𝗲𝗮𝗿𝗻 𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗿𝗲.”
And then there was the magic. While it wasn’t a hugely fleshed out aspect, there was creativity. I loved the idea that knots could possess magic, and used for various types of spells like protection and confusion. Something so simple that fit so well with the medieval times setting. So cool!
The other great thing in this story is the famous betrayal. Dun dun dun!!! What would the story of King Arthur be without betrayal?! It is so necessary. I kept waiting for it to happen. Eventually, I thought it might not. Part of me didn’t want it to, either, because the character I suspected was one I was really fond of. But when it did, I was caught off guard. I both cursed and applauded.
All in all, this wasn’t what I would consider “epic” fantasy, as there weren’t layers upon layers of world building, magic development, plot, characters, etc. It was definitely more of a traditional fantasy feel. My only qualm was that the first half moved a little slow at times, but the writing itself was so poetic in places, that it didn’t matter much. I enjoyed Kiersten White’s story voice and prose. Now I’m ready to dive into the second book, and quite excited to see how Guinevere and Arthur handle the new dangers coming their way. 𝗠𝗬 𝗥𝗔𝗧𝗜𝗡𝗚: 𝟰/𝟱⭐️