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Posts Tagged ‘New Age Arthurian novels’

Daughter of Destiny: Guinevere’s Tale Book One is the latest addition in the plethora of Arthurian novels being published every year. Yes, there have been plenty of novels about Guinevere before, but this one stands out for several reasons.

Nicole Evelina's new novel is the first in a trilogy that allows Guinevere to tell the tale of Camelot from her own point of view.

Nicole Evelina’s new novel is the first in a trilogy that allows Guinevere to tell the tale of Camelot from her own point of view.

Author Nicole Evelina states that she was inspired to write this book after reading Marion Zimmer Bradley’s The Mists of Avalon and loving it but hating how Bradley depicted Guinevere in the novel. Admittedly, I agree that Guinevere is the weakest character in that otherwise powerful novel, and Evelina’s Guinevere is a remarkable improvement as she tells her story in first person narration.

In Evelina’s version, Guinevere is far from the frightened Christian girl of Bradley’s novel. Instead, she is the strong-willed daughter of a Roman-descended king and a mother who was part of the Votadini tribe. Guinevere’s maternal family are believers in the old religion of Avalon, and so Guinevere is sent there to study, where she learns beside several other well-known characters from the legends, including Viviane and Morgan. This first part set in Avalon was probably my favorite section of the novel since I have always loved the idea of Avalon and tried to envision what it is like and have depicted it in my own Arthurian novels. Evelina is obviously influenced by Bradley in her depictions, but she also gives the story twists of her own, especially in the rivalry that develops between Guinevere and Morgan. Yes, like Morgan, Guinevere has her gifts—she has the gift of the sight—she can see events at a great distance as they happen—it’s like her brain is able to Skype! But perhaps most surprising in the novel is the young man who becomes Guinevere’s love interest—I think every reader will be surprised by this plot twist—it isn’t Lancelot or Arthur who captures Guinevere’s heart. The shocking Beltane scene in Mists also influences the Beltane scene in this novel, but again, Evelina makes surprising choices in how she depicts it, including Guinevere’s involvement in the rituals.

The novel moves forward when Guinevere returns home to find her father greatly changed and herself disinherited. While she thought, as his only child, she would inherit her father’s throne, he has now decided it will go to her male cousin. Then, so Guinevere can learn proper Christian ways, her father also decides to send her to live at King Pellinore’s court, where she meets two other young ladies, Pellinore’s daughter, Elaine, and his ward, Isolde, heir to the Irish throne. Despite her newfound friends, Guinevere finds life with Pellinore’s family—especially his cruel wife Lyonesse—far from pleasant.

Overall, I found the entire plot refreshing—it is familiar, yet original, bringing together many well-known characters and placing them in new relationships to each other, and then developing those relationships in unexpected ways. At the same time, Evelina has clearly done her research and uses it to determine other relationships among characters. For example, King Lot is married to Arthur’s half-sister, Ana, a character usually written out of modern novels in favor of Morgan le Fay or Morgause, but Ana actually dates back to Geoffrey of Monmouth and has more historical clout, therefore, as Arthur’s sister. As for Morgan, she is an orphan whose origins are unknown—though I suspect we’ll find out she’s Arthur’s sister in a future book. Evelina also draws on Geoffrey of Monmouth in depicting the “Kingmaker” comet in the novel that prophesies the birth of a great king.

Hopefully, I don’t give too much away by saying that at the end of the novel, King Arthur makes his appearance and claims Guinevere for his future wife. Of course, she has to marry him—her situation as well as the literary tradition demand it—but given that she already loves another man, I’m sure we’re in for some more interesting plot twists in the future novels. The second novel will be out later this spring and the third novel of this trilogy will be published in 2017. I suggest watching for both of them after you read this one. I read Daughter of Destiny in two days, almost unable to put it down. Evelina’s writing style is visual and smooth, so it is a pleasure to read; I felt taken back to the Arthurian time without being weighed down by too much detail or historical facts. I felt like I was living the story, rather than reading it, and that’s how a good writer should make her reader feel. I’m grateful for any chance I get to live in Camelot, so I thank Evelina for a pleasant time there.

For more information about Nicole Evelina and Daughter of Destiny, visit her website at www.NicoleEvelina.com

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Tyler Tichelaar, Ph.D., is the author of The Children of Arthur series, which includes the novels Arthur’s Legacy, Melusine’s Gift, Ogier’s Prayer, and the upcoming Lilith’s Love and Arthur’s Bosom. He has also written the nonfiction scholarly work King Arthur’s Children: A Study in Fiction and Tradition. You can learn more about him at www.ChildrenofArthur.com.

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Masoud: Book III of the Merlin FactorSteven Maines has written a very interesting series, The Merlin Factor, about the man who was reincarnated from Longinus, the Roman soldier who pierced Christ with his spear during the Crucifixion, to Myrriddin (Merlin of King Arthur’s Court) and finally as Liam Arthur Mason, whose name is mispronounced as Masoud by the Muslims during the Third Crusade.

I was anxious to read this third book in the series after having read the first two. (You can read my previous review of Myrriddin: Book II of the Merlin Factor at Reader Views: http://www.readerviews.com/ReviewMainesMyrridinBookII.html which also mentions the first book in the series, Longinus, which is my favorite of the three.)

In general, modern Arthurian novels can be divided into two categories:

  1. Historical—where the author tries to depict Arthur in his historical time period and be realistic—no magic.
  2. Fantasy—where magic is prevalent and history is of little importance and rarely depicted accurately.

Some authors try to blend these categories, offering a fantasy element to the historical time period—The Mists of Avalon might be termed historical fantasy for this reason, and the same is true of The Merlin Factor series.

I would propose a third category, which could be called perhaps the New Age, spiritual, or even anti-Christian at times, genre, and The Merlin Factor belongs to this category as well.

Unlike most series that focus on King Arthur and his court, The Merlin Factor stands out for depicting the time just after Christ in Longinus’ story, and then also depicting the Third Crusade. The reincarnation of the main character is what ties the three books together. Also tying them together is the Spear of Longinus, which has great power and always manages to get back into the main character’s hands.

Because Myrriddin is a Druid, many of the passages in Masoud refer to religion and spirituality that is not orthodox with Christian themes, and it is apparent that Christianity itself is rejected by the main character as being untrue by comparison to reincarnation and more Celtic religious and spiritual beliefs. This stance is very powerful and moving in places, and the arguments, common in many New Age (a term that is somewhat derogatory and that I do not particularly like but will use for lack of a better word) books. While these types of statements have been made in other Arthurian novels, they are more prevalent here than usual, and I believe they make the novel and the characters stronger for it. The general theme throughout the trilogy is that the character of Myrriddin is evolving and moving to a higher spiritual state as he undergoes his experiences.

Yes, there is action, although the action adventure feel of this novel moves a bit slower than most, and the author is clearly more interested in the metaphysical and spiritual/magical aspects of the theme than the plot itself. In brief, the main character Mason travels to the Holy Land to fight in the Third Crusade; he is captured by the Muslims and even meets Salah al-Din, the great Arab leader. In the process, Mason begins to remember his past lives, and he gains the name Masoud from the Muslims who come to respect him for his ability to control the Spear. Mason/Masoud learns secrets of the Knights Templar and reveals a plot that will hurt the Crusaders’ cause. A battle is also fought to possess Jerusalem.

I found the metaphysical/religious discussion engaging, the plot less so. My suspension of disbelief was sustained throughout, although I felt the way the Spear is used, as well as pieces of the True Cross, to create weapons of power to hurt the enemy was a bit too unorthodox for my taste—I hate to think Holy Relics would be used for war, although I know they have been believed to have that power in the past, including by Adolf Hitler. A few more typos than there should have been were also in the book, but that is a small complaint.

I believe Masoud is the last book Steven Maines plans to write in the series, but honestly, I wish there were one or two more to bring the story up to the twenty-first century.

I encourage readers who enjoy this sort of New Age Arthurian genre to read The Merlin Factor series. More information can be found at the website of the publisher, Purple Haze: http://purplev.com/live_purple/steven_maines_books

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Tyler R. Tichelaar, Ph.D. is the author of King Arthur’s Children: A Study in Fiction and Tradition, available at www.ChildrenofArthur.com

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