"FUIMUS - We Have Been"

"FUIMUS - We Have Been!" motto of Clan Bruce

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Saturday, 3 May 2014

BOOK NOOK; Queen of Camelot by Nancy McKenzie

Step  into Guinevere's enchanting world of Camelot

For the past week or so I have been totally absorbed in Queen of Camelot by Nancy McKenzie.  It is a fantastic novel, with lots of attention to detail and plenty of atmospheric world building.  When reading this book I really felt as if I were living in Camelot; a silent observer watching all the comings and goings, eavesdropping behind the arras!  The novel tells the tale of Guinevere, beginning when she is a child in Wales and following all her adventures - her first love, her first meeting with Lancelot when she is already betrothed to the High King Arthur and her subsequent  life in the beautiful palace of Camelot.

The descriptive passages are so rich, it is easy to image the royal palace, from the gardens and battlements, to the council chamber with the great Round Table, to the king's library with its roaring log fire and hunting dogs warming themselves by the hearth.  Guinevere's chambers are rich and resplendent, her ladies in waiting are respectfully courted by the Kings Companions and the legendary fellowship of Camelot is beautifully retold.

This novel is one of the best interpretations of the Arthurian sagas that I have ever read.  The author somehow manages to seamlessly draw together many different versions of the popular mythology and make them into something altogether new.  This Guinevere is no shrinking violet; she is a feisty female lead, who gallops bareback on war horses, raises Excalibur herself and goes hunting with hawks, as well as stitching tapestry and reading quietly by the fireside in the evenings.  In short, she is a woman after my own heart.

All the well known characters are portrayed here; Elaine the jealous rival, Gawain the hot-headed young knight eager for glory, Lancelot the faithful Champion, Merlin the sorcerer and so on.  What I liked most about this novel is that Mordred is not portrayed as evil - in fact it's difficult to know exactly who's side he is on, but he is by no means the villain of the piece.  All the characters are complex and well developed.  King Arthur is generous to a fault and the misunderstanding at the end of the novel makes for a tragic end to his story which put tears in my eyes.

Queen of Camelot is a door-stopper of  a book at 867 pages, making it a tome to sink into for hours at a time.  I have been having dreams about this book, the scenes are so vivid.  It's a great read for when you have some time off work and can really give yourself up to the enchanted realm of Camelot. If you enjoy Arthurian legend you will no doubt love this novel for its fantastic escapism.

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