Guenevere: The Queen of the Summer Country is the first novel in the Guenevere series by Rosalind Miles.
Guenevere is the last of the queens of the Summer Country, a pagan kingdom of ancient Britain, where the Great Goddess is venerated above all. But times are changing. Under the guidance of Merlin, Arthur, the secret son of the last High King of Britain, is on a quest to reclaim what is his by rights. At the same time, a new religion is sweeping across the land.
The future seems uncertain. When it is time for Guenevere to choose a husband and king to rule beside her, she must pick carefully. The wrong choice could have disastrous consequences for the Summer Country. So, in her hour of need, she summons to her the one man who can help her…Arthur.
Favourite Quote (or rather, 3 Favourite Quotes)
As Guenevere watched and listened, the power of the ritual stole over her, and her dread began to fade. Lulled by the chanting, cocooned by the warm air, she fell into a trance. Now she could hear the secret music at the heart of things, and feel the breath of the mystery brushing against her cheek. Her senses swam in a pearly light like Avalon, and a great sweetness filled the air.
He came in a silver sunset at the end of a sweet spring day. The evening star was shining in a pearl-grey sky when the message was brought in.
On the far horizon, a white moon sailed up into the sky, bathing the earth with light. She could hear an owl calling from the nearby wood, and the soft cooing as the doves nestled down for the night.
I thought I would really enjoy this book, and although there were parts of it that I did really like (such as the pagan descriptions of the Britain during the Dark Ages), the problem was, I didn’t really connect to the main characters.
When I first saw the title of the book, I thought that it was definitely a book for me. Then I saw the cover and I was smitten. Arthurian myths and legends are my thing; I’ve been reading about the subject since I was a child, both fictional stories (fantasy, historical, re-imaginings) and the history (or lack there of) behind them. So when I came across this, a story being told from Guenevere’s point of view as a strong queen in her own right, I was quite excited.
However, I think the book tries to do too much. Arthurian myth spans centuries, but this book attempts to weave a story from the pagan past, the spread of Christianity and the conflict between paganism and monotheism, as well as the early medieval obsession towards chivalry and courtly love. And in the midst of all this, I think something gets lost.
On the upside, the tale is full of beautiful passages of evocative descriptions, and it is this, above all else, that I will remember from this book. I have included three quotes from Guenevere instead of the usual one to illustrate this and also in the hope that this review doesn’t come across as too negative, which isn’t my intention. After all, I did read the book from cover to cover, and found the story itself to be well written, not to mention I adored a number of the locations found within the story, especially Avalon.
The question is, am I going to read the second novel in the series, The Knight of the Sacred Lake? At the moment, I’m not sure, but I have a feeling that I will at some point in the future.