Title: The Guinevere Deception
Series: Camelot Rising #1
Author: Kiersten White
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Retellings
Published: November 5th, 2019 (Delacorte Press)
Synopsis: Princess Guinevere has come to Camelot to wed a stranger: the charismatic King Arthur. With magic clawing at the kingdom’s borders, the great wizard Merlin conjured a solution — send in Guinevere to be Arthur’s wife… and his protector from those who want to see the young king’s idyllic city fail. The catch? Guinevere’s real name — and her true identity — is a secret. She is a changeling, a girl who has given up everything to protect Camelot.
To keep Arthur safe, Guinevere must navigate a court in which the old — including Arthur’s own family — demand things continue as they have been, and the new — those drawn by the dream of Camelot — fight for a better way to live. And always, in the green hearts of forests and the black depths of lakes, magic lies in wait to reclaim the land. Arthur’s knights believe they are strong enough to face any threat, but Guinevere knows it will take more than swords to keep Camelot free.
Deadly jousts, duplicitous knights, and forbidden romances are nothing compared to the greatest threat of all: the girl with the long black hair, riding on horseback through the dark woods toward Arthur. Because when your whole existence is a lie, how can you trust even yourself?
Arthur is the newly made king of Camelot and magic is now forbidden in the kingdom to the extent that the magician Merlin too, has been banished. Princess Guinevere arrives in Camelot to wed the King, except, she isn’t Princess Guinevere at all, but a changeling, Merlin’s daughter, sent to protect Arthur from his foes. Taking up the mantle of Camelot’s Queen, Guinevere must adjust to a new world of court politics as she tries to find the threats to Arthur, working to protect him in the only way she knows how – forbidden magic.
This is my third King Arthur retelling this year, but undoubtedly the most satisfying. Yes, it deviates from the tale as all retellings do, but not so far as to render it unrecognizable, which is just as I like it. The Guinevere Deception was a rather slow read initially, and the first half was ordinary and nearly boring. But once the real action begins, it was fantastic, and Kiersten White did not disappoint. The world building was great and I really enjoyed getting to know Camelot through Guinevere’s eyes. The magic system on the other hand, was frustratingly vague. I’m still not all that clear as to what exactly knot magic is, and more importantly, why and how it seems to affect the wielder – at one point Guinevere’s vision is temporarily blurred, and it is implied throughout the book that she has memories missing due to this magic.
When it comes to character development, I give this book an A+. Arthur is true to the legends, brave, charismatic, and just so all around good that it’s impossible to not like him. Mordred was…amazing, and not at all what I expected. I loved the way his character was depicted, such that it’s really hard not to sympathize with him – why is it I always enjoy the villainous characters the most? Guinevere herself is more of a mystery. If you go comparing her to Lada, expect to be disappointed, because she’s a very different type of heroine – or rather, a more traditional type of heroine, atleast so far. The darker tone of the narrative I expected certainly seems to be coming up and I’m curious to see where this retelling goes. Guinevere’s POV is an interesting one to read from – I’d complain that I still have no idea of her character and who she is supposed to be, but Guinevere herself doesn’t seem to know that (which is extremely frustrating).
This book definitely leaves more questions than answers, and the one I really want to know is who Guinevere is exactly and what her connection is to the Lady of the Lake. There is quite a large cast of characters, and apart from the main ones, we get to know very little about the others, something I’m hoping will change with the sequels as I’m quite curious to know more, particularly in the cases of Lancelot and the Knights that haven’t been very central to the tale so far. I have to say, I didn’t find the twist or the ending to be all that surprising. Even with what little I remember of the original story, I knew that it had to happen – the only question was when. With all these retellings, I’m getting the original rather muddled up, perhaps it’s time for a reread?
Overall, The Guinevere Deception was a promising start to a new series. It has its downsides, but for an introductory book with so much ground work to lay, this was very well written and an engaging read. I would highly recommend this for readers fond of retellings.
Have you read this book? Let me know in the comments below!
Other reviews in this series: