Sharan Newman tells the story of the golden child whose dearest friend is a saint who hears spirits singing; of the gentle-hearted woman who begins to dream of love, glory, and the fierce, proud king who will become her husband; of the passionate beauty whose name will be remembered and hated for centuries.
Of course this was an instant read for me, being the Arthurian legend junkie I am. There are really more series on Guinevere than I realize, and this is just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak.
I can't say I liked this book. But I can't say I absolutely cursed it to damnation either. I don't know, maybe it's that Arthurian legend junkie inside of me keeping me from being too harsh.
Let's start with this book's namesake, Guinevere. Sharan Newman's aim, I think, is to have Guinevere come across to the reader as "otherworldly" and "different," somehow like the "chosen one." But really, she came across to me as spoiled and just kind of "out there." And not in a good way. It was like she was always in some other world that everyone else, and it was a bit annoying.
I was really quite mad at Guinevere towards the end of the novel, when she first meets Arthur. Arthur goes completely gaga over her, of course, but Guinevere remains completely ignorant. I mean, Arthur is willing to go so far as to change the person he is for her, and Guinevere acts surprised when Arthur tells her he loves her? I mean, come on. Like I said, it's like Guinevere's existing in some other dimension throughout the novel.
I also didn't like the fantasy aspect of this novel. Guinevere talks to a unicorn. Really. And she sees invisible spirits. It was just too weird for me, and in my opinion, it really didn't add anything substantial to the book.
I will say I did like Sharan Newman's interpretations of all of the other Arthurian characters. But it seems kind of silly to me that I came away from this book liking everyone else except Guinevere. Kind of defeats the point I guess.
The writing was pretty well done, although it really took me a while to get through it. I definitely didn't get that magical feeling I get when I read Arthurian legend. (Except at the end when Sharan Newman introduces Lancelot ;D).
All in all, if you're super duper into Arthurian legend like I am, I'd say why not, give it a try. But if you are just getting into the magic that is King Arthur, pick another series. I might read the rest of the series just to see what she does with Lancelot + Gwen, but we'll see.
Book #14 in Historical Fiction Reading Challenge