One of my favorite stories growing up was the story of King Arthur. There was this illustrated version I always checked out at the library, and no matter how many times I read it I was addicted. It likely started my obsession with the medieval world, and drove me to want to write in it eventually. When I heard about the Guinevere Deception, and what it was about, I was a little skeptical (it’s my favorite story!!), but then I read the synopsis and realized not only was it about King Arthur, but includes some serious magical elements!
At the heart of The Guinevere Deception is of course, the story of King Arthur, Guinevere, and the Knights of Camelot. Where this retelling though departs is Guinevere’s story and her introduction into this world. Guinevere is a changeling in this version, gifted with magic and taught by Merlin in order to protect Arthur. The problem? Camelot has banned magic, and the practice of it, banishing Merlin years ago. Not only must Guinevere protect her true identity, but she must protect Arthur while hiding her magic from everyone else. It doesn’t help that there is a dark presence pushing closer, and beginning to feel her and Camelot out. Can Guinevere protect Arthur and Camelot?
Overall Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
I had some high expectations going into this book between my love for the original story, and then that whole synopsis. One of my favorite niche dramas is the Fae, and the concept of true names and changelings is definitely in that mix. It’s not exactly just in the Fae genre, but it hits up the feel of it, so I was plenty happy with this. From the start we are thrown into Guinevere’s big challenge, and the emotions it draws up in her. She wants to protect Arthur, whom she has heard all the stories of through Merlin, but she is also limited in her use of magic. While Merlin is one of the greatest sorcerers known to man, Guinevere’s one magic at her disposal is knot magic, which throughout the book comes always with a cost. Nothing new here for those who watched Fullmetal Alchemist, but it often puts her at a disadvantage, so definitely playing up some drama.
Her relationship with Arthur is perhaps one of my favorite parts of this book, and likely the series, so no surprise there. They are married early on, though both at that stage are more so just friends, but slowly the two begin to rely on one another, and trust each other more than anyone else. None of this was extraordinarily new, since this is the main couple in the original story, but I enjoyed it anyway. What was surprising was the introduction of Lancelot, which I really want to go into, but then so many spoilers, so instead I’ll say that yes Lancelot still plays a huuuge role in the story, and in the main relationship of the novel. This is sticking to the main story, so not a spoiler, but the way that Kiersten White tweaks this character brings Lancelot into the twenty-first century in a perfect way for Young Adult Fantasy. I’m not always for changing up a well-known and beloved character, but this one fit the story. It also made me like Lancelot, and Guinevere more than some of the other versions of King Arthur (they aren’t often depicted in a good light).
One of the big selling points as I got through the book was the magic. Yes, magic is a well known element to King Arthur, but typically it feels like it plays more of a backstage role. Starz’s Camelot, is a really good example since we have Merlin playing a decent role in bringing Arthur to Camelot, but then appearing more like a con man or performing magician than a Sorcerer. That never sat well with me, but I get it, they wanted to mix it up a little. That was what made this story so great; it didn’t downplay the magic, but really showed it up. Camelot is banning magic at this point, but it doesn’t stop its existence past its borders. Instead, Merlin has been living a forest far away and teaching Guinevere how to use magic, and about Arthur as he preprares her. Add in the dark forces, the civilians using magic in secret, Guinevere’s magical, but mysterious past and you have some serious magical drama building up.
I don’t think saying I loved this sums or completely tells how much I enjoyed this book. This one flew by so fast, and now I have to wait for the next novel (and the one after that). I might just go crawl into a corner and sob with how much that saddens me. I hadn’t really liked White’s last series, And I Darken, but the Guinevere Deception is really promising. Where And I Darken turned me away from its characters, this one feels like it took a different approached and paid off. I’m really excited for what book two holds, and will be telling all of you and anyone who’ll listen that they need to read this! Seriously, read this!