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Dawnflight (The Dragon's Dove Chronicles) (Volume 1) Paperback – February 26, 2013
"Intense." Jessie Potts, USA Today, May 2013
For anyone with more than a causal interest in English history, DAWNFLIGHT is a must read. Ms. Headlee has brought her own interesting style to this new telling of the age-old story of Guinevere and Arthur, and the ancient people from whom most or our modern ethics, religion and laws came from. -- Joann Thompson, Rhapsody Magazine, 8/99
I've always been a fan of the Arthurian legends, and I thought I'd seen them approached in just about every possible way -- That is, until I read Kim Headlee's "Dawnflight - The Legend of Guinevere."
Headlee takes the legendary characters Arthur, Guinevere, and Merlin, among others, and transforms them into believable historic figures. This book tells the story as it actually could have happened -- not behind the shining, pristine walls of mythical Camelot, but in our own world.
At its heart, "Dawnflight" is a love story, but don't let that scare you away. This is no sappy, sentimental romance -- quite the opposite. It is actually a gritty tale of war and conquest, and not all of it is between nations.
Gyanhumara is a Pictish cheiftaness who is bound by a treaty to marry a Brytoni lord and ally her conquered tribe to the Roman Empire. She chooses Urien map Dumarec, one of her people's worst enemies, in hopes of bringing peace. She soon regrets her choice. Some of her misgivings are due to Urien's nature, but most are because she loves another man. She loves a man she once thought she hated above all others -- the conqueror of her people -- Arthur the Pendragon. That love could mean a civil war between Arthur and his arch-rival, yet unsteady ally, Urien.
Headlee says in the notes following the book that she feels Guinevere has gotten a "bad rap" in other tellings of the tale. Headlee intended to represent Guinevere a woman of "true power," and she has indeed succeeded. Chieftaness Gyanhumara is not a simpering lady of the court, nor a traitorous schemer as Guinevere has been portrayed in other versions. Instead she is a warrior-queen, as strong in will as in body.
She refuses to be subjugated by Urien, who obviously feels that no woman is even close to the equal of a man. Despite her revulsion, though, she still fully intends to honor her agreement to marry him. Her sense of duty to her people won't allow her to do otherwise.
The events that follow -- as Arthur and Gyanhumara attempt to come together, despite seemingly the whole world being against them -- puts a whole new face on the classic tale of betrayal that leads ultimately to Arthur's downfall in other adaptations. Definitely food for thought for any fan of the Arthurian legends. This isn't just another re-telling of those same stories. "Dawnflight" will make you re-think all the tales of Guinevere and Arthur you've ever read.
As for the writing itself -- it is superb. Headlee makes you care about her characters, and forget the countless other stories you've read about the same characters. She also has a knack for keeping the reader up past bedtime. The first night, I was able to put the book down, but once the action really started, it became tougher. Headlee has a talent for ending every chapter on a note that makes you say "just one more chapter before bed." Then, before you know it, it's 4 a.m. and you're beginning the final chapter.
On a personal note, this book came along at just the right time for me. When I started it, I was at a point where I didn't think fantasy could excite me anymore. Then, I picked it up. It has been quite a while since I devoured a novel the way I went through this one, and even now, I'm planning on giving it a second reading very soon.
In these days when every fantasy has to be at least a trilogy or more likely a watered-down drawn out saga, it's rare that I look forward to another series of books. In this case, I think "Dawnflight" is just the tip of Excalibur, and there's a lot more to the tale. I look forward to hearing it, and I hope Kim Headlee will stay with them until they're done. -- Fred Phillips, The Bookwyrm, 7/26/99
Very Highly Recommended. At the Battle of Aberglein, the Roman forces led by Arthur the Pendragon of Brydain defeat the combined armies of Caledonia. Among the defeated is the Chieftain of Argyll, Ogryvan, who forces his fellow Picts to agree to the peace treaty. A clause contained in the pact leads to Ogryvan's son Per serving under Arthur's leadership and his daughter Gyanhumara marrying a Brydain lord of her choice. Since Arthur has not been recognized as a Bryton noble due to his questionable birth, he cannot marry Gyan.
Urien, whose charge won the day at Aberglein, is the leading contender for the hand of Gyan. When they meet, there seems to be an attraction between them. However, Urien despises the warrior ways of his intended bride and plans to tame her. When Gyan meets Arthur, sparks fly. He does not want Gyan to change one iota. Instead, he informs his uncle Merlin that he plans to have Gyan at his side even though it may cause big trouble for the Brydains and the Picts. If she picks her cherished Arthur, civil war will follow. If she selects Urien, he will crush her spirit forever.
Sometimes the rewriting of the Arthur legend leaves fans with a classy romance that has the audience clamoring for more from the author. Kim Headlee provides a heady saga that tells the tale of Guinevere, a character that readers will fully understand. Arthur is also cleverly done as he is part of a Roman-Brydain world at odds with the Picts. The story line of DAWNFLIGHT moves forward with plenty of detail that makes for a fabulous historical romance that begs for more novels from Ms. Headlee. -- Harriet Klausner, Under the Covers Book Reviews, 8/2/99 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From the Author
"And while [they] lived happily ever after, the point is they lived." This line, spoken at the close of 1998's Ever After, literally made me gasp the first time I heard it. Because it summarizes precisely what I try to convey with "Dawnflight" and its sequels. Scholars will argue until the Second Coming about whether Arthur was a mortal or a god, one man or a composite, a king or a soldier, a Christian or a pagan, a southern Celt or a northern one, a native Briton or a Romano-Sarmatian import, and any other arguments they can dream up. My theory is that a folkloric tradition as vast and as inspiring as the Arthurian Legends does not spring up around a mythic god, or a mortal who was universally disliked by his people and merely given good press by his bardic spin-doctors because he was their patron. Therefore, my conclusion about Arthur and Guinevere, their companions and their enemies is: they lived. They fought. They loved. They did the wrong things for the right reasons and the right things for the wrong reasons. They triumphed. They failed. And they learned to overcome failure and the pain of betrayal by forgiving each other--which is perhaps the greatest lesson we can learn from them. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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I thoroughly enjoyed this story. It has a strong female protagonist who isn't afraid to speak her mind and isn't afraid to wield a sword. There is romance with just a tad of detail, which I could handle. The characters are well defined, and the world building is decent. There are vivid and exciting battles, and though there are religious undertones throughout the tale, it is a vital part in understanding some of the trials Gyan and Arthur had to face, and definitely added to my interest in their plight. I would recommend this book to anyone into Arthurian historical fiction.
I have long loved stories of King Author, and it didn't matter if it was his boyhood or old and time for his son to take over when he died. This has been one of the best, Kim Headlee has certainly researched for historical authenticity and details. She has also managed to keep Gyan (Guinevere) as a warrior since by birth and training she is a Caledonian Chieftainess but due to Authors deafening her people she was to marry a Brytoni. With hardly much time for choice she found herself betrothed to Urien ,son of her clans deadliest enemy. Though he tries to hide the contempt he feels for her and her family and clan. Early warnings to maybe not trust him..he wants to break her spirit because she is as confident on the battlefield as in the room full of ladies. Gyan is to go to school on the Isle of Maun, when finished she is to be wed. But she meets Author and they fall in love, though it is Author's own law that has her betrothed to Urien, since Author's mixed blood stops him from leading his mother's clan. But he is determined to have her for his own, even if the cost is conflict, or can he get him to call it off. When Gyan gets to the school ,she runs into Morghe (Morgana, Authors half sister) ,Angusel (Lancelot). When the Irish attack the school Gyan,Author, Urien, Morghe, and Angusel were forced to help defend it. There is where Gyan really started noticing what Urien was really like, but even though she had been warned that she would die from a Brytoni man she was going to but she wanted Author. There is a worse problem a Scots Laird wants their lands so Author, Gyan and Urien must band together or lose all they love and hold dear. Kim uses lots of descriptive quotes, phases of the time period, three languages. It is a terrific job of keeping it as true to the time as she could . I look forward to more of her stories.
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When I read the description for Dawnflight, I was immediately intrigued by the idea of Gyan, traditionally known...Read more