I’d like to begin by telling you all how much I enjoyed reading this book! The last couple of fantasy books which I had read made me feel too old to be reading this genre, but The Guinevere Deception turned that around for me and reminded me why fantasy books are downright fabulous!
The Guinevere Deception by Kiersten White is the first book in the Camelot Rising trilogy which is a re-imagining of the Arthurian Legends. Now, all those who are familiar with the Arthurian legend through either literary history, other works of fiction or have seen the popular Netflix show The Adventures of Merlin, will be able to relate to the characters a lot and will also be able to predict some of the plot twists.
Initially, the book introduces a few key characters, namely Guinevere, Merlin, Mordred, Brangien and of course King Arthur. Guinevere is the daughter of Merlin who is married off to Arthur with the mission to save him and Camelot from dark magic! The story is quite interesting right from the start as a few stereotypical suspicions get busted early on.
As the story progresses you will find yourself questioning the loyalty of every character which is introduced, sometimes so much that it might as well leave you feeling frustrated. The best part about the book for me was that there was never any suspense for the sake of it. Its fast paced and smooth narrative held my attention the entire time.
Now let’s talk about the relationship shared between Guinevere and King Arthur. Initially, I loved them. I was even hoping for more to happen, but their romance was a bit too tame for me. I was as disappointed as Guinevere to realize that it wasn’t easy revolving around someone who didn’t revolve around her. The wait for something more to happen even made me more hopeful for Mordred and Guinevere to eventually share a romantic relationship. Arthur’s cousin, Mordred is a complex character about whom I loved reading thoroughly, I won’t ruin it for any of you but I still can’t make up my mind about him.
For me, more than the story, this book was about exploring the complex characters which are not just one-dimensional. Some are both strong and weak, some are clever and foolish, and some are in love and yet they play it safe. The book played a fine balance between two ends of a spectrum but left me longing for some extreme wild restive passion. Guinevere’s character is shown to be determined, as someone who doesn’t quit. This was more than a welcome change for me as a reader given some of the books I have read lately. Her most intriguing characteristic is that she turns her sadness into determination and doesn’t allow it to hold her. Lancelot was the only character who unabashedly did everything she could to be where she wanted, she had the craziness I was wishing for in Guinevere. Her strength, persistence and fire to become a knight is inspiring!
The story with its modern twists also had a pinch of LGBTQ+ and didn’t back off from repeatedly reminding it’s readers that there was nothing in the world as magical and terrifying as a girl. Some revelations about Merlin has me rattled while the interludes of his arch nemesis, the Dark Queen, kept the story interesting throughout.
The magical element in the story was also disappointing because they were of Merlinesque epicness. The book continuously fiddles with the fact that there is so much space in between the two poles of good and bad. This narrative element appeals to the empathetic souls.
There are many questions still unanswered with a hope for some strong character build-up in The Camelot Betrayal coming out this November. I rate this book 3.5 out of 5 bookmarks being extremely hopeful that White has saved the best for the next two books in the trilogy!