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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Book Review: Queen of the Summer Stars by Persia Woolley

Queen of the Summer Stars by Persia Woolley
Book 2 of the Guinevere Trilogy
ARC, Paperback, 512 pages
Sourcebooks Landmark
June 1, 2011
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Genre: Historical Fiction

Source: Received from publisher 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.

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

Buy the Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | RJ Julia

Also by Persia Woolley

northern spring
Child of the Northern Spring (Book #1)
[My Review]

Guinevere: Legend in the Autumn (Book #3)

Find Persia Woolley: Website | Facebook

Copyright © 2011 by The Maiden’s Court


  1. Great review, Heather! I have the first book, but haven't read it yet, sounds like I should move it up on the TBR pile. Thanks for the recommendation!

  2. Yes, I have Book 1 still waiting to be read....glad overall they are interesting and enlightening books. Looking forward to reading them. Thanks for the great review, Heather!

  3. I really need to check these out. I read the first book in Rosalind Miles' Guinevere trilogy and didn't really care for it. Woolley's sound like they would be more to my liking.

  4. I also have the first book in this trilogy sitting on my shelf waiting to be read. I'm looking forward to it, and will keep in mind that the first one might not be as engaging as the second.

    Thanks for the review.

  5. Amy, Joanne and Melissa - I think you will enjoy the first book enough - it wasn't bad but there were some stylistic things I didn't love. I didn't find any of those issues with book 2 tho.

    Holly - I haven't read anything by Rosalind Miles - thanks for the heads up tho.

  6. Oooh, v pleased to hear you liked the second book -- too often the middle book in a trilogy can be weak. I've got the first one waiting to be picked up -- now I've more impetus since you enjoyed this one!

  7. Audra - I agree, under many circumstances the 2nd book can be a downer, but I liked this one more!

  8. I read the first book and have the second waiting for me. Glad to hear it worth it and I'm also glad to hear about Guinevere gaining confidence. She's an interesting character.

  9. Justbookreading.com - I certainly liked Guinevere in this book - as opposed to other incarnations.

  10. I will definitely have to put this series on my wish list. It is always interesting to find a variation on the Athurian legend and compare it to the many others.

  11. LibraryPat - This is the first series I am reading about Arthur and it makes me want to read all the others!


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