This is the second book in Woolley’s Arthurian trilogy following Child of the Northern Spring.
Guinevere and Arthur have been married 10 years, and sadly, are still childless. While she begins falling into a slight despair about their lack of a son, Arthur doesn’t seem bothered by it. He spends his time worrying about Saxon invaders and trying to tie together a realm bent on remaining in pieces. The Round Table is coming together and the Companions are proving to be worthy of Arthur’s trust and willing to see his vision for a unified nation through. Lancelot, at first cold to Guinevere, finally admits his love but the two, out of their love and respect for Arthur, do nothing. Arthur’s sister, Morgan Le Fey, who still wants the crown for her own, has other plans though.
Arthur keeps his secrets from Guinevere so well she doesn’t even understand his family dynamics. I didn’t understand why she didn’t ask him outright; she’s not necessarily meek but she doesn’t seem able to ask questions about Arthur’s past. He was fine with hiding his family and she seemed fine with his secrets, to a point anyway. When she finally finds out about his past, it breaks her heart and understandably. In other Arthurian books I’ve read, Guinevere and Arthur are closer. In this book, they’re close but in a sort of standoffish way which I attributed to the nature of their marriage. It’s an arranged marriage of sorts; they met but it wasn’t necessarily love at first sight. For the record, Guinevere does fall first and much harder than Arthur. They get drawn closer at the end of the book but in some ways I wanted them to find that closeness earlier. I think it would have made for a more enjoyable read. Then again, maybe I’m projecting my own wants on the story instead of accepting this version fully.
It does stay close to the regular Arthurian tale with a few small changes here and there. If you’re purist, it works, if you all right with changes, it works too. I liked it but it did feel like it was lacking something and I can’t place what it is. Maybe it’s that it’s the second in the trilogy and the slowness that sometimes happens with a series found its way in here. I’m hoping that’s it. Either way, I’ll be reading the last book because I don’t seem to be able to leave anything unread that is Arthurian. Guinevere: A Legend in Autumn will find its way to me at some point.
Queen of the Summer Stars
By Persia Woolley