Guinevere's Gift

Nancy McKenzie, Author . Knopf $15.99 (327p) ISBN 978-0-375-84345-7

Mining the same vein as Marion Zimmer Bradley's genre classic The Mists of Avalon , Arthurian aficionado McKenzie focuses on the feminine and the pagan in this prequel to The Child Queen . Initially, 12-year-old Guinevere is the dutiful ward of her wily Aunt Alyse and a timid companion to her cousin Princess Elaine. Guinevere is fearful of the prophecy hanging over her since birth—that she will wed a great king, but betray him and then be betrayed, and that her name would be remembered for a thousand years. She shows her fiery spirit only when riding alone. She learns her solitude is illusory when she is confronted by a pagan hill man—one of the “Old Ones”—sworn to protect her because of the prophecy. When the hill men are implicated in a treacherous plot, Elaine kidnapped and Alyse's throne endangered, Guinevere discovers her own courage and finds a “gift for doing the right thing.” McKenzie uses excellent period details (Guinevere feels overwhelmed by a gift of lace, “costlier than jewels, being so rare”). Her female characters are strong and give advice relevant to contemporary readers; as Alyse says, “Beauty is a fleeting weapon. It's the use of your wits that will carve you a place in life.” Ages 10-14. (Feb.)

Reviewed on: 01/21/2008
Release date: 02/01/2008
Genre: Children's
Paperback - 325 pages - 978-0-440-24020-4
Library Binding - 327 pages - 978-0-375-94345-4
Open Ebook - 188 pages - 978-0-375-84941-1
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