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Dawnflight (The Dragon's Dove Chronicles Book 1) Kindle Edition
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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.
When I read the description for Dawnflight, I was immediately intrigued by the idea of Gyan, traditionally known as Guinevere, being a warrior rather than a victim. Gyan certainly lived up to my expectations. She is a strong and courageous woman, and although she finds herself in the unenviable position of having to marry for political reasons, she is definitely not a damsel in distress. She is still the warrior and leader she has been trained to be. Even though Gyan wants peace for her clan, she isn’t willing to compromise her character by pretending to be something she’s not. I admire her spirit.
It is abundantly clear that Urien is not the man for Gyan. He is a thoroughly detestable man who treats most people poorly, especially women. However, Urien doesn’t see himself this way and seems genuinely confused when Gyan becomes upset with him. Gyan deluded herself from the beginning that she could ever be with Urien. They were never comfortable around each other and he clearly didn’t respect her or her people. Urien tried to be on his best behavior at first, but he couldn’t hide his true personality for long. His treatment of Gyan is appalling, especially toward the end of the book. I found myself very frustrated with Gyan and her reluctance to walk away from the match. While she has to marry a Brytoni nobleman, she doesn’t have to marry Urien. She still has a choice, and yet Gyan acts as if Urien is her only option even though many of her friends and family try to tell her otherwise. I couldn’t help but wonder if Gyan would recognize just how dangerous Urien is before it is too late.
Arthur is the opposite of Urien in every way. He treats everyone around him with respect, even the people he’s conquered in battle. From the moment Arthur and Gyan meet, the attraction is clear. They are well suited to each other. I could just as easily picture them in a passionate embrace as fighting side by side on the battle field. Unfortunately, their romance is complicated and finding a way to be together won’t be easy.
The characters in Dawnflight are truly compelling, but Ms. Headlee has also created a vivid world for her characters to inhabit. The day to day details Ms. Headlee provides made it easy for me to lose myself in Gyan’s world. I will admit that the pacing did suffer in a few places, but my patience was definitely rewarded as there are plenty of faster paced sections to satisfy readers who love a good battle, whether fought with swords or words.
Readers should also know that Ms. Headlee has provided supplementary material at the back of the book with lists of names, places, and pronunciation guides to some of the more difficult words. I enjoyed reading through these sections and encourage others to do the same. In fact, some readers might want to read these sections before diving in to the tale.
I truly enjoyed reading Dawnflight. Ms. Headlee’s version of the Arthurian legend is unique, and Arthur and Gyan’s romance is timeless. I highly recommend Dawnflight to fans of historical romance. I’m looking forward to reading the second installment in this series very soon.
originally posted at long and short reviews
Pros: You are given the privilege of knowing the minds of very powerful and influential characters. Every move by these people who hold the fate of so many in their hands is thought out and put on to paper. You are never left guessing as to the motives of the characters even if others in the story are not privy to their thoughts. You even begin to see how Morghe came about her reputation as an enchantress. I appreciate the time and effort it took to tie everything together. The power of Gyan's conversion is stated so eloquently that it brought tears to my eyes. Her clan marriage to Arthur is beautiful and the delicate balance that she strikes between honoring her customs and his is very powerful.
Cons: Inherent in a retelling of this story is the use of names from that time and part of the world. I honestly found myself stumbling over the names at times. It is also not a fast-paced read. If you are looking for quick and easy entertainment, this is not the book for you. It is a descriptive re-working of the Arthurian legends. If you have some basic knowledge of them you will be able to readily recognize the key players (Gyan=Guinevere, Morghe=Morgana, etc.) and begin to understand that this one comes with it's own distinct point of view. If you are looking to pin the fall of Arthur squarely on Guinevere's shoulders then don't read this, but if you have an open mind you will thoroughly enjoy it! One loose end, Chieftainess Alayna, was notably absent at the end. Along with Morghe and Urien's impending union, it left me knowing that all would not remain peaceful for long.