Camelot--a vibrant pageant of love, heartbreak, hatred, jealousy, revenge, and desire--as seen through the eyes of its queen, Guenevere
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 territory while still allowing her to rule in her own right. Their love match creates the largest and most powerful kingdom in the Isles.
Arthur's glorious rule begins to crumble, however, when he is reunited with his mother and his long-lost half-sisters, Morgause and Morgan. Before Arthur's birth, his father--the savage and unscrupulous King Uther--banished his wife's young daughters, selling Morgause into a cruel marriage and imprisoning Morgan in a far-off convent. Both daughters will avenge their suffering, but it is Morgan who strikes the deadliest blows against the King and Queen, using her evil enchantments to destroy all Guenevere holds dear. When the Queen flees to Avalon, Morgan casts a spell on Arthur and seduces him.
In the chaos that follows his betrayal, Arthur sends a new courtier to protect Guenevere, the young French knight Lancelot. Her loyalty to Arthur already destroyed, Guenevere falls in love with Lancelot, a love that may spell ruin for Camelot.
Prolific English journalist and novelist Miles (I, Elizabeth) offers a feminist, New Age version of the Arthurian legend in her amply stocked but overripe work. Through his marriage to Guenevere, queen of the pagan matriarchy of the Summer Country, Arthur is well on his way to becoming king of all the Britons. However, Merlin, his tutelary spirit, frowns upon this marriage and prophesies that Guenevere will prove untrue. Guenevere is bedeviled by the machinations of her malevolent step-cousin/uncle Malgaunt, while Arthur's unknown, unhappy past invades his life in the figure of his half-sister Morgan le Fay, who seduces him and lures Arthur and Guenevere's only son, Amir, to an early death. The incestuous fruit of Arthur's union with Morgan�Mordred�becomes Arthur's nemesis. In Miles's take on the legend, the principals are locked in passionate conflict: Queen Guenevere is stronger, more resolute, courageous and persevering than King Arthur. Though portrayed as a frank, generous golden knight, Arthur nevertheless proves putty in the successive hands of Merlin, Guenevere and Morgan le Fay. Merlin, a wild, withered, yellow-eyed druid, is also undone by Morgan and appears to abandon Arthur to his fate. Only when Arthur falls under Morgan's sway does Guenevere succumb to her love for Lancelot, one of the novel's freshly conceived figures. The matriarchal way of life in Guenevere's Summer Country, with its capital at Camelot and its goddess residing in the misty Vale of Avalon, appears as infinitely more civilized and attractive than those states where men rule. Unfortunately, the novel's characterization is sometimes trite, and its prose style is trying, veering between downright coarse (perhaps in an attempt to be lusty) and syrupy. Aficionados of Arthurian romance will be pleased with the included maps, family trees and list of the novel's 75 or so characters. (Feb.) -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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1 . Love Miles's style!
Posted January 04, 2010 by akklovestage , BrooklynThis book is powerful, insightful, and makes me proud to be a strong woman. The Queen of the Summer Country is just the beginning of a wonderful trilogy that shows a history of woman rule before Christianity brought the rule of King to the forefront. You also feel the struggles of a woman who loves two men fully but in completely different ways. It makes you think about the matters and depth of the female heart. I will say this though, the beginning of most of her novels can be confusing at the start, you have to follow alot of characters in the first few chapters but as the novels continue, you see how all these characters shape the story and plot. I love this series and highly recommend it to avid readers!
July 10, 2000
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Excerpt from Guenevere, Queen of the Summer Country by Rosalind Miles
She always knew that she lay in a queen's arms when her mother told her stories of the Fair Ones who watched out from their hills and hollows for little princesses like her. And she knew that she rode out beside her mother to greet the people all in white and gold because all the Queens of the Summer Country had done so too.
When her nursemaids said, "Hush, do not trouble the Queen," her mother would smile and say, "Let her come to me. One day she will be Queen."
When her father frowned and said, "Guenevere is a grown girl now; she must be married one day soon," the Queen would laugh and say, "'One day' is soon enough for her to choose." And all the tall knights around the Queen's throne would smile at her and agree.
Childhood was one long summer in sunlit meadows clad in white and gold, daisies and celandines spangling the grass like stars. At midday the sun blazed down on silent glades and lofty forests, living green cathedrals roofed with fire. Of all the kingdoms of these islands, her mother said, summers were longest here. That was why, when the Old Ones made the world, they called this the Summer Country, the sweet green southwestern kingdom by the sea.
It was an enchanted childhood in a land of summer sun. And though the autumn winds were blowing that would turn her world to winter, she saw nothing, and felt nothing, until suddenly it was gone.
Why is it all so very different now?
"Guenevere, where are you? Hurry, darling, do!"
She could hear her mother calling as she slowly climbed the stairs. In the wide gallery as she reached the top, the Queen stood in the midst of the crowd surrounded by her knights. Radiant in her light gown and crown of gold, she shone like a flower in the forest among the tall men.
So many men, so many watching eyes . . .
Guenevere moved toward the group of knights, willing herself to avoid their curious gaze. Laughing, the Queen took her hand and drew her toward the rail. "See, they're all here; which one shall I choose?"
Below the viewing gallery, a handful of horsemen were already out on the jousting field. Like dolls on their prancing steeds they curvetted about, the spring sun flashing from their armor of shining steel. On the meadowland beyond, the bright pavilions of the contestants dotted the grass like flowers. Between the tents, squires and pages hopped to and fro like crickets as they worked furiously to prepare their knights for the fray.
In the distance the white towers of Camelot shimmered in the sun. Clad in their holiday best, crowds of the townsfolk were pouring out of the gates and over the meadows toward the jousting field. With a loud peal of trumpets, the heralds were making their rounds. "Move along, there! Clear the field, make way!"
Guenevere breathed deeply, savoring the sweetness of the new-mown grass. She smiled at her mother's joyful face and dancing eyes. The first tournament of spring was always the Queen's Championship, and the Queen showed her pleasure openly, like a child. Indeed, she still was a child in many ways, Guenevere thought fondly, not like a queen nearing forty with a grown daughter now.
"Oh, Guenevere!" The Queen touched Guenevere's hair with a loving hand and brushed the silken sleeve of her new gown. "So fair-darling, you're so lovely today." She was looking around the gallery as she spoke. "Has one of my gentlemen caught your eye at last? Your father thinks someone has."
Yes, Mother, someone has.
But how do I catch his?
A dull sense of defeat dampened Guenevere's soul. She willed herself to meet the playful gaze. "The King sees husbands for me everywhere," she said evenly. "But madam, this is your special day, not mine."