Daughter of Destiny (Guinevere's Tale, Book #1)
by Nicole Evelina
Release Date: January 1st 2016
2016 Lawson Gartner Publishing
Ebook Edition; 327 Pages
Genre: Fiction / Historical
Source: Review copy from HFVBT
4 / 5 Stars
In the war-torn world
of late fifth century Britain, young Guinevere faces a choice: stay with
her family to defend her home at Northgallis from the Irish, or go to
Avalon to seek help for the horrific visions that haunt her. The Sight
calls her to Avalon, where she meets Morgan, a woman of questionable
parentage who is destined to become her rival. As Guinevere matures to
womanhood, she gains the powers of a priestess, and falls in love with a
man who will be both her deepest love and her greatest mistake.
when Guinevere is able to envision a future in Avalon, tragedy forces
her back home, into a world she barely recognizes, one in which her
pagan faith, outspokenness, and proficiency in the magical and military
arts are liabilities. When a chance reunion with her lover leads to
disaster, she is cast out of Northgallis and into an uncertain future.
As a new High King comes to power, Guinevere must navigate a world of
political intrigue where unmarried women are valuable commodities and
seemingly innocent actions can have life-altering consequences.
This book has been short-listed for the 2015 Chaucer Award for Historical Fiction.
Daughter of Destiny, the first book in a planned trilogy, was a very pleasant surprise, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I'm very leery when reading books about King Arthur and Guinevere and to be honest, haven't really liked a lot of them; either they were too mythological and fanciful for my taste, or everything about the characters were off. And don't get me started on the movies. What I've always wanted was a gritty story, one that really understood the times, was not overly fanciful and mystical, but still had that whimsy behind the tale of King Arthur. This one met most of those expectations.
We first met Guinevere on her way to Avalon as an eleven-year-old girl. To me, she was a typical girl used to being waited on hand and foot, and her attempts to fit in with the other girls did not go too well in the beginning. It also didn't help that her gift was quite complicated and required extra attention in order to get under control, making the other girls jealous. I liked the author's portrayal of Guinevere's early years as it made her much more sympathetic and real to me; I think if she had been perfect, one who developed allies and allegiances at that age, it would have turned me right off. She's a girl!! And one with no idea of the destiny in her future, planning only to wed a lord and run a manor house like her mother did. Her conflict with Morgan seemed only natural as both were competitive and fierce, so why wouldn't they fight over the top spots whenever they could. And since Guinevere is human, it would be natural for her to be jealous over Morgan's accomplishments as well as anger over her tricks. The author certainly sets up the rivalry between Morgan and Guinevere quite well. Who wouldn't?
While I would have loved to learn more about Avalon, I'm glad the author chose to keep the descriptions to the background as there was the danger of them taking over the story line. Avalon was essentially just part of the story, and nothing more, except as a way to plot the eventual story line between Morgan and Guinevere. It becomes very easy for the setting to take over the character development and plot line which can effectively ruin a story, and there was a fine balance to walk in this book; the author wanted to develop the mystery of Avalon so her readers understood its significance, but also wanted to develop the characters and eventual story lines that will appear in later books.
Guinevere's relationship with Aggrivane was a childhood obsession; he was her first love and we all know how intense first loves can be. Being isolated on Avalon, her dealings with men were few and far between, so it's really no wonder this man caught her attention after spending many hours with him. I really didn't think a lot about their relationship other than to wonder how it would end as we all know who she eventually married.
I did find the portrayal of the religious conflicts to be quite interesting; they actually played quite a large role in some of the events in this story. While the author doesn't call herself a historian, she certainly shows a lot of knowledge about the subject, and I found it fascinating how it was incorporated into the novel. Slight touches, here and there, but with deep nuances of meaning.
Daughter of Destiny was a delightful retelling of Guinevere's early years and I enjoyed it tremendously. I thought the characters were interesting and enjoyed seeing them in a new light; Isolde quickly became a favourite of mine so I hope to see her again in future novels. I think if I had any issue with this book is that it wasn't quite gritty enough for me; the time period was one of great upheaval and war so I would have liked that incorporated a bit more. But this was a book about Guinevere's childhood so I do get why more of that wasn't in this one. I am definitely looking forward to the next book in the trilogy, Camelot's Queen, to be released April 12th, as Guinevere and Arthur begin their married life together.
Daughter of Destiny