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?
This is the King Arthur re-telling you didn’t know you needed! Guinevere is on her way to marry King Arthur and bring peace to the realm of Camelot. The only problem is the girl he marries isn’t the real Guinevere, she is in fact Merlin’s daughter and has been sent to Arthur’s court to protect him from a strong and powerful magic that is stirring. Between playing the dutiful Queen she is supposed to be, and attempting to protect Arthur’s life, Guinevere is constantly on the go. And this might be why, when the biggest deceit of them all happens, she did not see it coming.
I was blown away by this book. I simply couldn’t put it down. White manages to bring to the pages the Camelot we all know and love, with some slight but infinitely more interesting differences. You will recognise a lot of the characters such as Arthur, Mordred, Lancelot, Sir Tristain etc but trust that these characters, though similar in ways, may hail completely different from the way they have previously been portrayed.
Guinevere was a beautifully written character. Strong in so many ways and yet her life of solitude in the woods with Merlin, left her completely unprepared for life at court. Having to constantly hide her magic from those around her puts an enormous toll on her head, but she will do anything to ensure the safety of Arthur and through him Camelot. Her one weakness is water, she is truly petrified of it and never allows it to touch her. Guinevere would never have survived Camelot and the wonders of court without her maid Brangien, she is a character whose motives I was unsure of throughout the story, however, the relationship between herself and Guinevere was one of friendship and trust, they were rather open with one another instead of the normal servant/master relationship. Arthur and Mordred were the other two main characters, Arthur is Mordred’s uncle, and though younger than him, was the fated one to pull the sword out of the stone and become the next ruler of Camelot. They have very few interactions together, however, we learn of their relationship through their conversations with Guinevere. Both strong, yet while Arthur sometimes seems indifferent to Guinevere, Mordred seems like he would never want to leave her side.
I was unsure who to trust the whole way through this book. White has a way of making you suspicious of a character one second and then absolutely sure of their motives the next, while the whole time she is silently sitting there going “mwahaha… you have no idea.” It isn’t until the last few pages that the you realise what the characters true motives are, and even then you don’t completely trust what you are reading. As well as the characters motives, throughout the story we get hints that Guinevere has memories missing, from her time with Merlin and before. All these twists and turns definitely keep you guessing, unsure who is the ‘bad guy’ and who we should be rooting for (I definitely rooted for the wrong person.)
I was a little worried when I started this that it would turn into a love triangle. And though Guinevere has two potential suitors, there was no animosity between them. There were no terrible choices to be made, and no battles to be won in her name. It was beautifully written, and you rooted for both at the same time unsure who would be best for her and who might lead her down a wrong path. The romance was definitely slow burn, simple touches here and there, and nothing major happened until the end of the book.
Guinevere’s magic system was wondrously intricate and beautifully woven into the story. Her magic mainly stems from making knots out of items, her clothing, hair etc and each knot has its own form of power such as preventing the touch of more magic, or ensuring people can’t recognise you. I found this magic system really intriguing and was unlike anything I had encountered before. Her magic is wild and untamed, and throughout the story we learn the potential of her power and how it can be used for both good and evil.
The book definitely ends on a cliff hanger and I’m not sure I can wait a whole year to get the next one in my hands. With some slightly gender bent characterisation, a subtle but there f/f romance and some truly beautifully written scenes this was an easy 5/5 read for me.