Besides Cast’s Goddess Summoning series, the other books that held me spellbound last week were Sarah Zettel’s Paths to Camelot series, specifically Camelot’s Honor and Under Camelot’s Banner, and Kinley McGregor’s Knight of Darkness (next post, I promise).
If you have an inkling of my love of Arthurian saga and Greek myths, it wouldn’t be hard for you to imagine how loathed I’d be to tear myself from these novels until they are all concluded satisfactorily. Hence, the silence on this space.
Ms Zettel is a powerful story-teller and Camelot’s Honor is her compelling sequel to In Camelot’s Shadow. Set in the untamed country of the Welsh borders, this tale of the valiant Sir Geraint’s adventure is a heady mixture of dark magic, deception, passion and courtly love.
Sent as part of King Arthur’s emissary to Pont Cymryd to forge an alliance with the widow of its chieftain, Geraint was drawn to Lady Elen when they first met although they barely exchanged a word. Seeking to destroy the alliance and break the spirits of her people, local chieftain Urien, paramour to Morgaine (Arthur’s half sister), murdered her mother and razed her home while Elen was out one night attending a difficult birth for the fey folks.
In spite of the ruthless Morgaine ripping Elen’s heart out and magically transplanting it to a hawk’s to stop her from seeking justice, the courageous Elen managed to call out to Merlin, her blood kin, for help. Geraint, upon hearing of the lady’s distress naturally volunteered to go to the aid of the fair maiden. After all, what better way could there be to prove himself a worthy knight at Arthur’s Round Table than to go on such a quest.
It was while she was thus enslaved that Elen and Geraint were forced into a handfasting of sorts, and their love would eventually be tested against a web of lies. But Zettel, being a romantic to her blessed bones, gave the brave young couple a happy ending, without being sappy or detracting form the story’s fantasy vein. I’m only puzzled by the change in Gawain’s wife’s name — it became Rhian in this story.
Under Camelot’s Banner (also published as Camelot’s Sword) brings the reader to the birthplace of Guinevere, Cambryn and Tintagel, where intrigue by the hands of Morgaine, is again stirring. Against the backdrop of Queen Iseult and Sir Tristan’s tragic love and betrayal, another tangled web of sorcery, treachery and war is spun out when Lady Lynet’s brother murdered her father in a bid to seize power and bring an uprising against High King Arthur, in a land where his absence has brewed quiet resentment.
While her sister Laurel remains as hostage watched over by two chieftains, Lynet must journey to Camelot to bring the High Queen Guinevere back to restore peace to their lands. Eager to redeem himself from the mistakes and folly of his recent past, Squire Gareth, Gawain’s youngest brother, pledged himself to Lynet’s quest in a bid to achieve knighthood and fame by his own hand. Lynet, still remembering the shame of her part in Iseult and Tristam’s adultery, however, is wary of the glib-tongued and courtly squire and dare not place any hope in him.
I’m going to be lazy here and quote the backcover:
Gareth soon finds this quest is no game, and that Lynet is no maid to be toyed with. With the machinations of the sorceress Morgaine threatening their future, only Lynet and Gareth’s strength and love together can save the queen’s hereditary kingdom … and that strength is failing.
This is again a well-wrought tale with political intrigue and treachery, and plot twists that keep you turning the pages to the very end. My only grouse is Lynet’s over dependence on her sister’s gift – a scrying mirror – which landed her in trouble even though it also helped her avert a potentially disastrous end for herself and her Queen. I felt Gareth’s and Lynet’s relationship could have been given more airplay. The scene in the moors was brilliant though … eerie yet symbolic.
I would have gladly bought the last book in the series, had it been published. As it is, all the followers of this series are eagerly anticipating Aggravain’s story in By Camelot’s Blood, which is expected to be out Spring/ Summer 2008. I sure hope the author’s Australian publisher won’t let her readers down. Shame on Luna for pulling out of publishing the fourth and last book. I think it would be another resounding success.