The thing that really impresses me about this book is how truly human the characters are. She was so truly charged as a human being and a Queen. During a particular moment near the end of the book, there is a series of moments that gave me a wonderful view of what it could mean to be a true queen and be aware of your people and how best to help them and rally them.
I consider Nancy McKenzie's Queen of Camelot the best Arthurian legend book I have ever read. I love the way that this author has made me feel like I really know Guinevere, and I have read no other book that has done this as beautifully as these have.
I randomly selected this book at the library and brought it home. She meets Llyr, a savage, and becomes good friends with him, a friendship that is proven to be helpful later in the story.
This book is centered around the prophecy entailing that Guinevere will become the highest lady in the land by marrying the one they call "the man unconquered." No one knew who he was at the time.
Here Guinevere stars the orphaned niece of Pellinore, being raised by her steely aunt Alyse and cousins in Gwynedd while her uncle is off fighting against the Saxons with Arthur Pendragon, who is never more than a name in the tale. In some ways shes a lot like Merida from the film Brave but unlike Merida, she doesnt have a single character flaw worth mentioning. Even her aunt is forced to admit that everything she does, she does well In this way, I think McKenzie is trying to redeem Guinevere by setting her on a good foundation; no matter what she may later do against Arthur and Camelot, the reader will first and always think of her of this gentle but courageous girl who just wants to do what is right, both to herself and to her family. The story could have been about some completely different girl in 5th century Gwynedd with a jealous aunt, a flighty, foolish cousin, and a wicked neighbor who kind of wants to rape her and it wouldnt have changed the plot one bit. The story is creative in the fact that it certainly isnt bound to Arthurian legend as we know it, but its almost too far away to feel authentic. I believe that people, consciously or unconsciously, want to read things that are true and beautiful and the Arthurian legend has a soft and yet iron-strong beauty twined round with the darkness. As I said, I think McKenzie is trying to do a good thing in giving Guinevere a fresh start but she doesnt seem to pick up on any of those deep themes of the tale, such as the nature of love, the price of person freedom, the nature of betrayal. In choosing to make her story about Guinevere and yet ignore deep and beautiful things, I think McKenzie really sold out and squelched her own obvious creativity.
The writing wasn't great and the characters, other than Gwen, weren't well-developed.
This is the first book in THE CHRYSALIS QUEEN QUARTET, and Ms. McKenzie does a fantastic job of introducing this new side to the legend of King Arthur. GUINEVERE'S GIFT is a great beginning to what is sure to become a series of books loved by fans of Arthurian legend.
She is being raised by her maternal aunt, Alyse who despises her because her own father preferred her sister (Guinevere's mother) to her and Pellinore, her husband who is serving in King Arthur's army. There is no mention of Arthur's half-sisters Morgan, Morgause or Elaine (not Gwen's cousin) but there is a few mentions of Arthur's father Uther and his mother Ygraine and Uther's disguise as Ygraine's first husband Gorlois, Duke of Cornwell conjured by the warlock, Merlin.