Source: Received from Sourcebooks for Review
“In a country simmering with witchcraft and unholy alliances, Guinevere joins forces with her husband, King Arthur, to gain control of Britain's warring knights. She presides over fabled heroes-including Gawain, Merlin, Tristan and Isolde-and treacherous villains, including Morgan le Fey and Lancelot. Vibrantly human, she reigns as a woman poised to discover the true peril and promise of the human heart. The second novel of this Arthurian trilogy plays out the history and myth of the round table, brought to life through the words of an extraordinary queen.”
The Guinevere in Queen of the Summer Stars takes on the role of a bridge between the young girl, innocent version of Guinevere from the first book and the Guinevere who is involved in the downfall of Camelot. Given that role, this Guinevere is more worldly and mature than her predecessor. She is actively involved in political discussions with Arthur and his men. She comes into her own as a lover, queen and a friend, as well as deals with issues of motherhood. We really see her relationship with Arthur grow into something much more solid than their early marriage showed. We see her torn between love and duty – something that is much more strained as she identifies her relationship with Lancelot.
I have to say that her relationships with Arthur and Lancelot were different than how I had imagined them prior to this book. I always believed that she belonged with Arthur and hated her for running off with Lancelot in the legends – but Woolley creates the relationship with Lancelot from the bottom up. You really get a sense of why she could be torn between these two great men and the emotions and decisions that impacted both Lancelot and Guinevere. I am very happy that Woolley took time to carve out Lancelot’s character – this allows the reader to identify with him more. The relationship between these characters felt like it developed naturally and by the end I was moved to their side. This book is certainly much more emotionally developed than the previous book in this series and very much appreciated by this reader.
When the narrative isn’t focused on Guinevere’s relationships it shifts focus to the politics of the time – and there is a lot of it here. Arthur is striving to bring together many different people and bring them under one law. We get to meet many of these groups of people and understand the difficulties in doing this.
The one story thread that I now really want to explore more is the story of Tristan and Isolde. Woolley brought their story to the forefront for a short period and I loved reading Guinevere’s reaction to their forbidden love.
I am now looking forward to Book 3 – Guinevere: Legend in the Autumn (releasing in November 2011) more than I was for Book 2. Queen of the Summer Stars is an overall better read in my mind than Child of the Northern Spring and I hope that Book 3 continues to build on that trend.
Persia Woolley has also written Child of the Northern Spring (Book 1) and the upcoming re-release Guinevere: Legend in the Autumn (Book 3).
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