Saturday, March 30, 2013
Gwenhwyfar: The White Spirit - Mercedes Lackey
This book is the story of the third Gwenhwyfar, the daughter of one of the border kings subject to Arthur. She’s just a child when Arthur marries the first Gwenhwyfar. Living on the border, her family follows the old religion, and it’s clear that Gwen has been blessed by the goddess Epona, and so she becomes a warrior. Gwen has a younger sister who could be her twin (she’s such in her shadow that she’s called Little Gwen, and her true birth name has been forgotten). Little Gwen is completely opposite to her sister, preferring the world of women, and she’s eventually fostered out to the king’s sister, Anna Morgause. Anna is of course the mother of Medraut, the bastard son of the king.
The first two thirds of the book have little to do with Arthur, and instead are the family story of this Gwenhwyfar, and how she becomes a renowned warrior. Lancelin is introduced in the middle third, but the action is still far from Celliwig (Camelot). I really enjoyed this part of the story – Gwen’s family, and her life in a border kingdom, are interestingly drawn.
The third part of the story, in which we finally meet Arthur (when Gwen is made his third wife), was not as good. It’s a very standard Guinevere story, but the rest of the book has been about building up this warrior woman, and having her sacrifice all of that (even though she very well knows that it’s her duty), really rang hollow to me. Her character changed too much, too willingly. I was a little disappointed in the ending, which is a shame, because I really enjoyed the rest of the book. I don’t want to say it was awful, but I can’t say it was one of my favorites.