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REVIEW: Knights of the Round Table – Gawain by Gwen...

Dear Ms Rowley,

051514349901mzzzzzzz.jpgWhile I enjoy medieval set novels, they have the capacity to really push my bad buttons. Too often authors go for that period feel by randomly tossing in faux medieval dialogue, doing haphazard research and making the hero nothing but an angst filled bastard. Literally. And when an author takes on the whole opus of Camelot and King Arthur, well let’s just say things can get ugly. So when Jane forwarded your book to me I read the back blurb and hesitated. Then I read a few other reviews of it and thought, hmmm maybe. By the time I was finished, I was a happy camper and glad to have read this one.

I like how well you worked the standard Camelot canon into the story and really appreciated how you showed that many of the knights and ladies, for all their fine protestations, still have a ways to go to meet their own highly announced standards of conduct. It’s how a society treats its helpless people that shows how true are its convictions. I also agree with the Saxons that the role of a peaceweaver is easier for the men to accept and that women have long memories of pain done to them and theirs.

At first Gawain comes off as a bit of a pris but I came to like him and not be bothered by what could come across as ‘holier than thou.’ The man not only talks the talk he walks the walk and few at Camelot really do that. I like that Gawain realizes that he’s just been existing for the past five years and that the reason for it is his grief over what he thought was Aislyn’s death. He knows why he’s been coasting and doesn’t want to go back to it.

Aislyn has learned her lesson about indiscriminate flinging around of magic. But she knows it’s too deeply a part of her for her to promise to give it up and mean that promise. She also knows, from having worked more closely with Morgause – magic-wise, that there is a time and a place where only magic will do. Gawain comes to see this after the demonstration used to save Launfal.

I like that Gawain still feels that it’s his duty to protect his wife and lead her (and he gives some good reasons and examples of times when you can’t have two leaders) but he also comes to understand that two heads are better than one for solving problems and just because his wife agrees to listen to what he has to say about something, doesn’t mean that she should be bound to do what he insists on. When he and Arthur were going over the responses that they had gathered from women to answer the question of Somer Gromer Jour (“What do all women desire?”), while I laughed at the various responses and the men’s chagrin at some of them (“Did you mark how many said they wanted to be widowed? A bit depressing, that.”), my immediate response was close to the final answer.

Sir Lancelot was an ass in this book and although I haven’t read any others from this series, I can see how the reviewer at AAR would be miffed and confused to see him as an ass here and know that he’s already had his hero book. His actions here are anything but heroic.

I like that both Aislyn and Gawain learn from their mistakes though Aislyn does exhibit a tendency to flee or want to flee back to her isolated woodland hut whenever the times get tough. I like that Gawain is totally ready to live a life with her in whatever form she’s in because he realizes that no matter what she looks like, she’s the same person underneath. Let the court laugh at him or pity him (though he’s honestly not looking forward to that) but he’ll know to whom he’s married and cherish her regardless.

There are some misunderstandings but our two get over them rather more quickly than I’ve seen in other books so they were only minor blips on my radar. I ended up liking this book so much that I intend to search out the two previous books in the series and wouldn’t mind at all if it were continued a bit further. A solid B grade for “Knights of the Round Table – Gawain.”

~Jayne

This book can be purchased in mass market. No ebook format that I could find.

Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.

4 Comments

  1. Wandering Chopsticks
    Dec 01, 2007 @ 14:14:33

    Oooh, this sounds like a great retelling of Sir Gawain. And I never thought much of Lancelot anyway. Have you read “The Mists of Avalon” by Marion Zimmer Bradley? By far my favorite King Arthur story. It’s the most sympathetic portrayal of Morgana I’ve ever read.

    I don’t know how many books I’ve bought b/c of your or Jane’s recommendations. Just thought I should chime in so you know how much I appreciate you both since there’s so many books I wouldn’t encounter otherwise.

    ReplyReply

  2. Jayne
    Dec 01, 2007 @ 20:24:22

    WC, thanks for your kind words. No, I’ve never read the Bradley book mainly because of the reasons I listed in paragraph one. I did read one by Sarah Zettel called “In Camelot’s Shadow” that I liked a lot. At one point I’d heard that Luna had decided not to continue the series which is why I’d never looked for another book after ICS but just now I checked at Amazon and lo, there are two more! Well, this is nice to know. I wonder if they’re available as ebooks….?

    ReplyReply

  3. Julie Leto
    Dec 01, 2007 @ 21:38:05

    Has anyone read the Camelot books written by Nancy Mackenzie? The Child Queen and the High Queen, which were re-released a few years ago as …oh, the name escapes me! I loved Child Queen. Actually used it in the classroom. I loved how it told the Camelot story from Guinevere’s point of view.

    I laughed when I went to read a few reviews of Rowley’s books at Amazon where the author is criticized for getting the history wrong. Ahem. It’s a legend. Not history. To spin legends in a somewhat different way is fascinating to me.

    ReplyReply

  4. Jayne
    Dec 02, 2007 @ 08:20:45

    How sad that people are twitting her for historical mistakes in a fable-ish book. I mean, come on
    people.

    I haven’t read the Mackenzie books either but I just now remembered the Persia Woolley (sp?) books that got a DIK at AAR. I think I have them but if so they’re buried Lord knows where.

    ReplyReply

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