Friday, August 28, 2009

Gwenhwyfar-Mercedes Lackey

Mercedes Lackey
Daw, Oct 2009, $25.95
ISBN: 9780756405854

Gwenhwyfar is the daughter of King Lleeudd, the nominal vassal to King Arthur, who is struggling to unite England while fighting off the Saxon incursion. Her mother follows the old ways while Arthur straddles the line between the pagan past and the followers of Christ. Gwenhwyfar has a younger sister Gwenhwyfach who hates her goes off with Morgana to learn the magic of the Old ways. The good daughter is heavily imbued with power and it is thought she would go study at the school of the Ladies of the Well.

However Gwen is told she is touched by another Goddess Epora who is worshipped by warriors as the horse goddess. Gwen turns her back on magic and with her father’s consent, becomes a warrior. Over time she becomes the head of her father’s army respected by the men as their best warrior. For years she has done what makes her happy but when Arthur’s second wife dies without an heir, Gwen is the chosen one as his next spouse. Arthur’s bastard son kidnaps her and the leader of the Otherworld with the assistance of a priest helps her escape. She must return to a husband who she does not love in a land on the brink of war with her sister Gwenhwyfach amongst the enemy.

Mercedes Lackey has written her version of King Arthur who is an old man married to a young woman in order to begat his heir. He is far from the hero of legend especially with his treatment of his wives. Gwenhwyfar is a courageous hardened warrior who plans military strategy for her father in a world where Christ is displacing the old ways, she tries to treat both camps fairly although she possesses some of the magic of the Sisters. This is a brilliant feminist twist to the Arthurian saga

Harriet Klausner

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