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Guenevere: Queen of the Summer Country Library Binding – June 26, 2008
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This is the first part of a trilogy chronicling the life of Queen Guenevere. Beginning with the young King Arthur who is preparing for the war that will unite Britain, the book recounts the marriage of Guenevere and Arthur, the growth of Arthur's court, and Guenevere's adulterous affair with Lancelot.
Although told mainly from Guenevere's point of view, this is a truly epic narrative, encompassing pageantry, political intrigue, war, and the conflict between the old pagan religion and Christianity. At times earthy, sensual, and violent, it is a powerful romantic drama firmly rooted in historical Britain, a modern yet traditional retelling of the stories given definitive form in the first four books of Thomas Malory's Le Morte D'Arthur.
The characters are grippingly evoked as realistic, living, and breathing human beings rather than simple archetypes, yet the writing is effortlessly lyrical, with the elegant flow of folktale. In emotional depth, Guenevere is comparable to Parke Godwin's fine Arthurian romance, Firelord.
This title is Rosalind Miles's 17th book. She is the author of the highly praised I, Elizabeth and The Women's History of the World. In 1990, she won the Network Award for outstanding achievement in the field of writing, and the same year she was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. --Gary S. Dalkin, Amazon.co.uk --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Prolific English journalist and novelist Miles (I, Elizabeth) offers a feminist, New Age version of the Arthurian legend in her amply stocked but overripe work. Through his marriage to Guenevere, queen of the pagan matriarchy of the Summer Country, Arthur is well on his way to becoming king of all the Britons. However, Merlin, his tutelary spirit, frowns upon this marriage and prophesies that Guenevere will prove untrue. Guenevere is bedeviled by the machinations of her malevolent step-cousin/uncle Malgaunt, while Arthur's unknown, unhappy past invades his life in the figure of his half-sister Morgan le Fay, who seduces him and lures Arthur and Guenevere's only son, Amir, to an early death. The incestuous fruit of Arthur's union with Morgan?Mordred?becomes Arthur's nemesis. In Miles's take on the legend, the principals are locked in passionate conflict: Queen Guenevere is stronger, more resolute, courageous and persevering than King Arthur. Though portrayed as a frank, generous golden knight, Arthur nevertheless proves putty in the successive hands of Merlin, Guenevere and Morgan le Fay. Merlin, a wild, withered, yellow-eyed druid, is also undone by Morgan and appears to abandon Arthur to his fate. Only when Arthur falls under Morgan's sway does Guenevere succumb to her love for Lancelot, one of the novel's freshly conceived figures. The matriarchal way of life in Guenevere's Summer Country, with its capital at Camelot and its goddess residing in the misty Vale of Avalon, appears as infinitely more civilized and attractive than those states where men rule. Unfortunately, the novel's characterization is sometimes trite, and its prose style is trying, veering between downright coarse (perhaps in an attempt to be lusty) and syrupy. Aficionados of Arthurian romance will be pleased with the included maps, family trees and list of the novel's 75 or so characters.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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The story is told well, easy to read, perhaps a slightly different slant on it as many of the tellings have.
The characters are bold and fairly well developed, but what keeps it from a higher rating is the fact that I felt many of the title characters, Guenevere and Arthur specifically were week. Arthur did not act like a young king who having seized the king was uniting the kingdom and expelling the Saxons. Guenevere's moods seem to change like a teenager's towards her first love. They certainly did not act like two people on whom the fate of kingdom's depended.
Merlin's role seemed almost non existent, too. Once Author was king, he practically disappeared. With more character development The author could have had a much better told story.
I first read these novels as a teenager and thought they were thrilling. Then I read them again as an adult and found it less titillating than I recalled. I'm not impressed with this series, but it's a good bookshelf filler, and it does help pass the time waiting in the doctors office.
Who love this book, written by Rosalind MIles, can buy and read it, like a fairy tale for yourself or your children as well.