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.
Brokenhearted at her parting from Lancelot and anguished over the loss of the sacred Hallows of the Goddess, Guenevere reconciles with Arthur. But their fragile peace is threatened by a new presence at Camelot. Mordred, Arthur's son by Morgan Le Fay, has come to be proclaimed heir to Guenevere and Arthur's kingdoms. At his knighting, the great Round Table, owned by the Queens of the Summer Country since time immemorial, cracks down the center and a terrible darkness falls over Camelot. In the midst of the chaos appears a new knight, Sir Galahad, who may hold the key to the mystery of the stolen Hallows. His arrival sets into motion the Quest for the Holy Grail and the fall of Camelot, which brings Guenevere to the brink of the most dreaded tragedy of all . . . and may ultimately fulfill her destiny as the greatest Queen of the Isles.
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May 27, 2002
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Excerpt from The Child of the Holy Grail by Rosalind Miles
The bitter rains of March beat on the hillside overhead. But deep in the heart of the rock, it was warm and dry. Inside the high-domed underground dwelling-place, the light from many candles played over walls swagged in blood-red velvet, looped and tied back with ropes of silver-gilt. Bright rugs from the East covered the stony floor in amber and indigo, garnet, rose, and black. A low fire glowed and murmured on the hearth, its slender plume of smoke lost in the void above.
In the center of the chamber, Merlin lay on a curiously made couch, staring at the ceiling through tightly closed eyes. A wand of golden yew lay within reach, humming softly to itself in a high, beelike whine. His hands lay loosely at his sides, palms upward, fingers reaching, ready to catch his dreams as they came down. A ring of candles shone around his head. The flames quivered and changed color, and he knew the time was near.
"Yes, yes," he muttered tensely. "I am ready-come-"
Suddenly his thumbs began to itch. For a second his mind turned to milk, warding off the ancient sign of impending evil and danger ahead. He crushed his thumbs in his fists to drive it away. The itching intensified.
"No!" he moaned.
No, he was Merlin still; it could not be. Feverishly he composed himself again for waking sleep, the magic sleep of the Druids he had learned long ago, preparing to send his spirit from his body as he always did. Once he had made the long hard leap of faith, his spirit self would walk the astral plane, gathering the secrets of the Otherworld. When he had to return, when his roaming soul submitted to his body's chain, he would know how to deal with what was to come.
"Come to me! Come!"
He could feel his soul straining at the leash, hungry for the void. Any moment now, yes, yesss-
Merlin, Merlin, attend-
A series of stabbing pains shot through his thumbs. Moaning, the old enchanter opened his eyes and forced himself to sit up. There was no avoiding it. There could be no flight of the spirit while this loomed. Evil impending? Where did the danger lie?
Throwing his skinny feet to the floor, he struggled upright and began to pace his cave dwelling, blind to the dark beauty of the place and the books and treasures he had brought there over the years. Mumbling and twitching, he came to rest at last before a silk curtain hanging on the wall. Behind it was an oddly shaped piece of glass in a deep frame. In its clouded depths, he saw a reflection stir and forced himself to interrogate the shadowy shape within.
"Danger then?" he ground out.
Danger, the answer came.
Merlin gasped in fear. How could it be? He had left Arthur well and happy, not three moons ago. To be sure, Arthur was not as young as he was, and the old man detested the lines deepening on the face he loved, and the gray spreading through his former pupil's glistening fair hair. But for a knight in his forties, Arthur was in his prime. His massive frame was almost unscathed by tournaments and battles, his fine face had lost none of its warmth, and his gray eyes were as kindly as ever, and much wiser now.
With another stab to the heart, Merlin remembered the boy Arthur once had been. Never had a fairer youth trodden the earth, except for Uther Pendragon, Arthur's father, Merlin's kinsman and dear liege lord. Merlin paused, ambushed by bitter memories again. Well, Uther had long gone down to the Underworld. Gone, all gone, all the Pendragon kings. No grieving or pining would call them back now.
Merlin turned back to the shadow in the mirror and tore his long
"How can Arthur be in distress?" he wailed. "He has what his heart desired! I found him the child!"
The child? quibbled the image in the glass.
"Yes, yes, child no longer, I know," Merlin retorted feverishly. "He's a grown man. But how can the danger lie there? Arthur loves the boy! Why, Mordred is everything to him now-"
But still the smoky shape wavered in the glass. The child, the child, the child-
"Gods above!" Merlin struck his head. Twenty years had passed since the boy Mordred could be called a child. If he was not the child, then it must mean another child to come.
A child of Guenevere's?
Merlin tore himself from the mirror and flung himself down on his couch. The Queen had indeed been childless for many years. But she was still within her childbearing years. Many a woman in her forties still gave birth, let alone one like Guenevere, tall and well formed, blessed in life and love. Could the child his spirit was warning him of be hers?
Gods above! Around his head the candles danced blue and yellow, mocking his distress. Guenevere, yes, he might have known!
The old enchanter gave full rein to his spleen. If only Arthur had taken another bride! He could have married a princess of the Christians, a sweet silent thing, tame as a caged bird to his ruling hand. But instead he chose a queen with her own kingdom, one born into the way of women's rule. Time and again, Guenevere had taken Arthur by surprise. And this would not be the last.