Debut author Cooney offers up an intriguing coming-of-age adventure set in the waning days of Camelot, presented with an eye toward historical accuracy and gritty detail. Thirteen-year-old Deirdre hails from Dinas Emrys, a minor outpost resolutely loyal to the High King. When tragedy strikes King Arthur's court in the form of Lancelot and Guinevere's infamous affair, it sparks a swiftly growing conflict. Deirdre, who struggles with the expectations and limitations afforded her by her gender and social status, gets caught up in the political intrigue and courtly maneuverings, ending up in a position to play a pivotal role in Arthur's final battle. Meanwhile, she navigates the treacherous waters of romance, wooed by a knight whose intentions may not be entirely pure. In this first book in the author's planned Empire of Shadows series, Cooney draws from historical records and popular legends alike, infusing them with a Welsh flavor to create a rich tale of destiny and self-determination. The familiar Arthurian trappings act mostly as a backdrop, allowing the original characters to leave their marks in a strong if occasionally meandering effort. Ages 12–18.