Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Gwenhwyfar: The White Spirit - Mercedes Lackey

Gwenhwyfar: The White Spirit
Mercedes Lackey
DAW Books
Copyright Date: 2009
978-0756405854

The Amazon.com blurb:
Gwenhwyfar moves in a world where gods walk among their pagan worshipers, where nebulous visions warn of future perils, and where there are two paths for a woman: the path of the Blessing or the rarer path of the Warrior. Gwenhwyfar chooses the latter, giving up the power that she is born into. Yet the daughter of a King is never truly free to follow her own calling. Acting as the "son" her father never had, when called upon to serve another purpose by the Ladies of the Well, she bows to circumstances to become Arthur's queen-only to find herself facing temptation and treachery, intrigue and betrayal, but also love and redemption..

Mercedes Lackey has finally ventured into the realms of Arthurian fantasy with her latest novel. As far as I can tell, she's done a good job with it too. Gwenhwyfar kept me up late for the last two nights. I just had to know what happened next.

This book is rather reminiscent of Marion Zimmer Bradley's The Mists Of Avalon in that the story is told from a woman's perspective, but it's the opposing woman to that book: Gwenhwyfar, rather than Morgaine. Gwenhwyfar is also definitely something of a tomboy, chosing to follow a man's way of life, and doing a very good job at it.

Mercedes Lackey has taken a different tack on things than some of the other Arthurian fantasy I've read: rather than having the old religion and the new one (Christianity) in conflict, she's made it possible for the two to get along. She's also done something new with the magic, although it works well.

It's not Valdemar, but there were times when the writing felt similar to the books set in that world. Probably because in many ways that's the typical 'fantasy' setting that Lackey uses.

I also found this new book to be reminiscent of Anne McCaffrey's short novel Black Horses For The King. In other words, heavy on the Welsh names. Not that it's a complaint. For the time period the book is set, it works.

Overall, Gwenhwyfar: The White Spirit has taken a different read on the story. Mercedes Lackey, has found a way of sorting out the various conflicting versions of the life of Guenivere and working these little tidbits into her story, namely by making Guenivere into three women, and the main character of the story the youngest.

I recommend this book highly (as I do nearly all of Mercedes Lackey's).
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