My rating: 5 of 5 stars
There was nothing in the world as magical and terrifying as a girl.
Princess Guinevere has come to Camelot to wed a stranger: the charismatic King Arthur. With magic clawing at the kingdom’s borders, the great wizard Merlin conjured a solution–send in Guinevere to be Arthur’s wife . . . and his protector from those who want to see the young king’s idyllic city fail. The catch? Guinevere’s real name–and her true identity–is a secret. She is a changeling, a girl who has given up everything to protect Camelot.
To keep Arthur safe, Guinevere must navigate a court in which the old–including Arthur’s own family–demand things continue as they have been, and the new–those drawn by the dream of Camelot–fight for a better way to live. And always, in the green hearts of forests and the black depths of lakes, magic lies in wait to reclaim the land. Arthur’s knights believe they are strong enough to face any threat, but Guinevere knows it will take more than swords to keep Camelot free.
Deadly jousts, duplicitous knights, and forbidden romances are nothing compared to the greatest threat of all: the girl with the long black hair, riding on horseback through the dark woods toward Arthur. Because when your whole existence is a lie, how can you trust even yourself?
ARC provided by NetGalley and Random House Children’s Publishing in exchange for an honest review. All quotes are subject to change from the final copy.
Guinevere-the true Guinevere-was not a wizard. Guinevere was a princess who had been raised in a kingdom far enough away that no one here had ever seen her. She has spent the last three years in a convent preparing herself for marriage. And then she died, leaving a space in her wake. Merlin saw the space and he claimed it.
An absolutely new and refreshing retelling of Camelot, King Arthur, Merlin, Guinevere, and Lancelot. Guinevere arrives in Camelot to wed her new husband, King Arthur. Only, what everyone except Arthur don’t know is that she is not the real Guinevere. Her true identity kept secret, she must assume the life and role of Guinevere, becoming the new queen of Camelot, while also completing her task given to her by Merlin to protect the king from evil forces. The catch? Magic is forbidden in Camelot. Only Arthur is aware of her task to protect him…or is it he that needs protecting?
There is this overall deception of Merlin to Guinevere of where she came from. She has always known him to be her father, but who is her mother? She is terrified of water, but why? She finds that she is missing memories that span years of her life, yet she can’t figure out why. Then there is the deception of Arthur’s birth. Arthur’s mother was tricked by Merlin to lie with the king a sire a baby, but why would Merlin do this? Deception broils along Camelot’s borders as a former knight-and right hand to the former king Uther Pendragon-Maleagant seeks revenge.
Arthur is a true king of the people, always seen reaching out to the villagers and their children, excited at new knight prospects, and concerned for the well-being of Camelot. But it is his devotion to Camelot that conflicts with developing any form of relationship with Guinevere. For love to blossom, it needs tended to. When he leaves her at a distance-so busy with his kingly duties for Camelot-it leaves the perfect chance for Guinevere to lose confidence in her mission there and her ability to develop a relationship with Arthur-outside of their marriage deceit to the people of Camelot.
Mordred, Arthur’s older nephew and most trusted knight, remains in Camelot every time Arthur is called away. He provides a friendship for Guinevere, a person she can lean on and understands her feeling of loss at not having a job to do when Arthur is gone. He is attentive to her. But when he discovers that she has magic, he also is the only person she can confide in, besides Arthur, that understands her (near) true self. He was one of my favorite characters. He appears devoutly loyal to the king, his humor provides lightness to the overall growing darkness in the story. He also falls for Guinevere and encourages her to be herself, to be free to not hide her magic and whither away. He wants to give her the attention she deserves, as opposed to being just a queen in the confines of the castle awaiting for the king’s return. I found myself wanting to run away with him. But alas, Kiersten White threw a curveball in the end….my heart 3
Lancelot is given a wonderful modern identity. A female! She reminds me of Mulan from Once Upon a Time. An aspiring knight, Lancelot disguises herself as the patchwork knight to try to earn her position in King Arthur’s knights. She finds a confidant in Guinevere as they are able to keep their secrets between each other, while also supporting the other as true friends would. Lancelot earns her position as a knight, only to be discovered a woman and immediately have her position taken from her by the king. This was frustrating as you think Arthur this honest true character that would see true talent and move past her gender. Don’t worry, Guinevere doesn’t stand for this…
Guinevere has magic that she doesn’t quite fully comprehend her capabilities. She is torn from having once lived a life of freedom in the woods to now remaining within the castle walls unless Arthur is at her side. She finds solace when her handmaiden, Brangien, and Sir Tristan discover her magical abilities and keep her secret. Brangien is witty and loyal, a true friend. As deceptions begin to unravel, Guinevere feels she is not this strong protector or warrior that she had believed when coming to Camelot, but a burden. But her lack of courage in herself leaves her vulnerable to a greater act of deception from someone close to her.
I appreciated making Lancelot a female. But I was a but disheartened that Guinevere chooses to remain within Arthur’s shadow. She chooses to stay with him when she has a chance to leave him behind and be free to be her true self. I understand she feels slightly committed to Arthur and their marriage charade, but he also doesn’t give her the attention she deserves. He makes her hide her magic because he can’t risk one ounce of magic used within his kingdom in risk of evil magic festering. Sure, he’s had bad experiences, but he also goes to the extreme length to have magic users hung or banished forever. She has the chance to be loved, truly. To have someone give her the love and attention she deserves. But she turns it away. I am torn. On one end, I understand, but on the other I was so frustrated that she chose to stay with someone that isn’t good enough for her-someone that makes her be someone she’s not.
Prepare yourself to be at the edge of your seat with a book that you won’t want to put down. Finally a retelling of a story that you’ve been needing.
It was a violent act. Magic of conquest and force. Was it justifiable when being used to protect a vulnerable creature?
Beautiful cover also! I have been long awaiting this book and was so thrilled when the publisher accepted my request the week before its release! Have you read The Guinevere Deception yet? Is it on your TBR list? Do you know of other well-written Camelot stories?