"She drifts on the breath of the stone, through halls and rooms and then out to the streets, running like channels of a river down to where the lake waits, cold and ancient and eternal. Water always finds a way back to itself."
Late last year when 'The Guinevere Deception' by Kiersten White was released, I was enamored first by the beautifully unique cover style and then immediately afterward by the concept of the story. I was excited to get a copy in a subscription box, but already at that point I had a long list of commitments to fulfill before getting to any casual reads and by the time I was able to fit one in.. unfortunately it had gotten shuffled around out of sight.
So, needless to say.. with my penchant for jumping into series specifically on book two.. and I don't know why this has become a thing with me.. but it absolutely has, I jumped at the opportunity to read an ARC of the follow-up.
'The Camelot Betrayal (Camelot Rising Trilogy Book 2)' boasts an equally beautiful cover design and sounded, if possible.. even more exciting than the series debut.
Generally speaking, I enjoy the idea of reinvention. Be that in reference to cover songs, remixes, film franchise reboots, or retellings.. I love to see what a creator might choose to do with inspired source material. Obviously, sometimes that has really disappointing results.. other times.. something truly special happens.. and entirely new life is breathed into that older work.
This is one of those situations.
Like many, I love the tales of Camelot. Merlin and Morgan.. Arthur and Guinevere.. the Knights of the Round Table.. these are the kinds of stories that continue to inspire throughout time. Though the legends of Tristan and Iseult (Isolde) are believed to have influenced the Arthurian tales, here.. in White's tale.. they find a place alongside the legends of Camelot.
"It is more valuable to anticipate a blow than to avoid it. If I know which direction a blow is coming from, I can move with it instead of against it."
In this book, King Arthur and Queen Guinevere have defeated their enemies once and are expending their efforts on ruling Camelot. Arthur, already comfortable in his role as King and Guinevere seemingly going through the motions while trying to find her place. Despite the evident closeness between herself and those around her, she continues to feel apart from everyone.
With her dreams swallowed up by visions of darkness and power.. familiarity in unfamiliar places.. and a deep sense of foreboding, Guinevere is constantly looking over their proverbial shoulders in expectation of an attack. Each little discovery seems as if it should make her feel more secure, but something still feels wrong. Nothing appears to be quite when she was taught it was, but she questions her own judgment and it seems the threat could be coming from anywhere.
Guinevere and Arthur are exceedingly kind, caring, likable characters. I find it interesting that a premise could be built on such polarizing lies and contain no feelings of negativity toward those carrying them out. Despite their secrets, they truly only want to do as much good for as many people as they possibly can.. and who can fault them for that?
Sure, along the way.. some pretty bad things go down.. but it's difficult to feel sorry for those on the receiving end, when all they do is ask for it.
"Do not imagine us whiling away our days in foolishness. Imagine us as the adder, curled and coiled in anticipation of the strike."
I loved the gender flip of Lancelot and how it's handled. It was impressive to see it both addressed in how the female night might be challenged by her role at the same time that she never seemed to be held down by it. She's as strong and able, more so in most cases.. than any other knight. Unlike Brienne in Game of Thrones, there's no great inner-conflict about who she is. There's no struggle to be as tough as the men and still soft enough to carry a love story.. and I genuinely applaud the author for that.
Other than the obvious small-minded comments of the occasional side character that imply the way she's viewed is more stereotypical.. her gender is never actually an issue for her when it comes to carrying out her duties. She's a knight first and does no worrying over finding a partner as if not having one in some way makes her anything less.
"She is movement and chaos, brightest life and sharpest death. There is no patience in her, no sense of the power of performing the same action over and over and over until eventually a different result is achieved."
The story is rich visually, has an intriguing.. if not unfamiliar.. magic system, and has plenty of page-turning events to keep you from putting the book down. The author's prose is elegant, without being overdone. Not unlike the dreams Guinevere is subjected to.. it flows like water itself.
I'm desperate to read book 3 already and hopefully get more of Mordred.. who has definitely caught my eye.. so I'll be making my way back to the first book soon as well. Don't miss out on this wonderful retelling. You'll be so glad you gave it a chance.