Guenevere: Queen of the Summer Country by Rosalind Miles
The literary world is crammed full of books surrounding Arthurian lore — so many, in fact, that it could very well be a genre of its own. The problem, however, is that because the main events, characters and storylines are already set out in the mythology, authors cannot tamper with them... at least not too much. This poses the challenge of presenting the familiar story in an original way, and the latest trend seems to be taking a character and telling the story through their point of view. In Guenevere: Queen of the Summer Country, Rosalind Miles has done this with the titular character.
In her version, the city of Camelot already exists in Guenevere's home country, the Summer Country. The Summer Country is a matriarchal society that worships "the Goddess" and where the Queens choose their own husbands, but then take a champion/l... Read More
Rosalind Miles(1943- )
Dr. Rosalind Miles is a well-known and critically acclaimed English novelist, essayist, and broadcaster. She has a Ph.D. in literature and has written numerous nonfiction works which have appeared all over the world. Her involvement in the law and other social action has also taken her from Buckingham Palace to the White House. Visit Rosalind Miles’s website.
Guenevere — (1999-2000) Publisher: Last in a line of proud queens elected to rule the fertile lands of the West, true owner of the legendary Round Table, guardian of the Great Goddess herself…a woman whose story has never been told — until now. Raised in the tranquil beauty of the Summer Country, Princess Guenevere has led a charmed and contented life — until the sudden, violent death of her mother, Queen Maire, leaves the Summer Country teetering on the brink of anarchy. Only the miraculous arrival of Arthur, heir to the Pendragon dynasty, allows Guenevere to claim her mother’s throne. Smitten by the bold, sensuous princess, Arthur offers to marry her and unite their territories, allowing her to continue to reign in her own right. Their love match creates the largest and most powerful kingdom in the Isles. Yet even the glories of Camelot are not safe from the shadows of evil and revenge. Arthur is reunited with his long-lost half-sisters, Morgause and Morgan, princesses torn from their mother and their ancestral right by Arthur’s father, the brutal and unscrupulous King Uther. Both daughters will avenge their suffering, but it is Morgan who strikes the deadliest blows, using her enchantments to destroy all Guenevere holds dear and to force Arthur to betray his Queen. In the chaos that follows, Arthur dispatches a new knight to Guenevere, the young French prince Lancelot, never knowing that Lancelot’s passion for the Queen, and hers for him, may be the love that spells ruin for Camelot.
Guenevere: Queen of the Summer Country by Rosalind Miles
Rosalind Miles, like Marion Zimmer Bradley, casts the Arthurian mythos as a conflict between paganism and Christianity, and between matriarchy and patriarchy. Miles’ portrayal of the two female leads is the mirror image of Bradley’s; this time Guenevere is the feminist Goddess-worshiper and Morgan was reared in a Christian convent. This, unfortunately, doesn’t constitute much of an innovation over Bradley’s version, and Miles’ portrayals are less nuanced than Bradley’s. The book is melodramatic, too, and what sticks out most in memory is that Guenevere constantly exclaimed “Goddess, Mother,” both in dialogue and internal monologue, ad nauseam. — Kelly Lasiter
Isolde — (2002-2003) Publisher: In the golden time of Arthur and Guenevere, the Island of the West shines like an emerald in the sea — one of the last strongholds of Goddess-worship and Mother-right. Isolde is the only daughter and heiress of Ireland’s great ruling queen, a lady as passionate in battle as she is in love. La Belle Isolde, like her mother, is famed for her beauty, but she is a healer instead of a warrior, “of all surgeons, the best among the isles.” A natural peacemaker, Isolde is struggling to save Ireland from a war waged by her dangerously reckless mother. The Queen is influenced by her lover, Sir Marhaus, who urges her to invade neighboring Cornwall and claim it for her own, a foolhardy move Isolde is determined to prevent. But she is unable to stop them. King Mark of Cornwall sends forth his own champion to do battle with the Irish — Sir Tristan of Lyonesse — a young, untested knight with a mysterious past. A member of the Round Table, Tristan has returned to the land of his birth after many years in exile, only to face Ireland’s fiercest champion in combat. When he lies victorious but near death on the field of battle, Tristan knows that his only hope of survival lies to the West. He must be taken to Ireland to be healed, but he must go in disguise — for if the Queen finds out who killed her beloved, he will follow Marhaus into the spirit world. His men smuggle him into the Queen’s fort at Dubh Lein, and beg the princess to save him. From this first meeting of star-crossed lovers, an epic story unfolds. Isolde’s skill and beauty impress Tristan’s uncle, King Mark of Cornwall, and — knowing nothing of her love for Tristan — he decides to make her his queen, a match her mother encourages as a way to bind their lands under one rule. Tristan and Isolde find themselves caught in the crosscurrents of fate, as Isolde is forced to marry a man she does not love. Taking pity on her daughter, the Queen gives her an elixir that will create in her a passion for King Mark and ensure that their love will last until death. But on the voyage to Ireland, Tristan and Isolde drink the love potion by accident, sealing their already perilous love forever.