The Guinevere deception

Kiersten White

Book - 2019

Sent by a banished Merlin to protect King Arthur, a sixteen-year-old impersonating the deceased Guinevere struggles to fit in at Camelot where the magic she practices is banished.

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Fantasy fiction
New York : Delacorte Press [2019]
Main Author
Kiersten White (author)
First edition
Physical Description
339 pages ; 24 cm
Contents unavailable.
Review by Booklist Review

The woman known as Guinevere rides from the convent to join her soon-to-be husband Arthur in Camelot, but she is not what she seems. Merlin has charged her with protecting the new king at all costs, but there are other players in the mix who have a different target in mind. White plays with the Round Table legend, giving Guinevere a different origin, Lancelot a gender switch, and Mordred a much more sympathetic role in the intrigue at court. This series-opener focuses on Guinevere's early days as she tries to settle into unfamiliar territory while learning the tasks of a queen. The writing is engaging, and this is undeniably a fresh take on Camelot. The author mixes action and introspection and takes care with character motivations and backstories. Arthurian legends are seeing a bit of a revival these days, so nudge interested readers toward Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy's Once & Future (2019) and Thomas Wheeler's Cursed (2019).HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: White regularly turns out best-sellers. Couple that with a robust marketing campaign and King Arthur's current popularity, and this should be another hit.--Cindy Welch Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

In this fresh twist on an enduring tale, White (Slayer) introduces an intriguing new heroine. After the real Guinevere, a princess preparing for marriage in a convent, dies, Merlin (banished from Camelot along with all magic) replaces her with a 16-year-old forest witch who has magic at her fingertips and no clear memory of her early life. Drawn to King Arthur's innate goodness and devotion to Camelot, she marries him to protect him from any threats. The new Guinevere is enraptured by Camelot's sights and soon makes new friends, including her lady's maid, Brangien; Arthur's enigmatic nephew, Mordred; and the preternaturally skilled fighter dubbed the Patchwork Knight. When a long dormant threat awakens, Guinevere must choose her destiny: embrace the wild magic that beckons her, or fight for the hope and promise of Camelot. With immersive prose, White captures the spirit of Arthurian legend while adding diversity and a bit of powerful feminist flair in this appealing series opener, and while Guinevere is the focus, White doesn't shortchange her supporting cast. Guinevere's mysterious past, and her future, leaves much to be explored in future installments. Ages 12--up. Agent: Michelle Wolfson, Wolfson Literary Agency. (Nov.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by School Library Journal Review

Gr 9 Up--Sixteen-year-old Guinevere knows she has a tough task ahead of her, charged by the wizard Merlin to protect King Arthur, her soon to be husband. She must do this while maintaining her secrets: she can do magic, which has been banned from Camelot and would get her thrown out, and she's not actually Guinevere. Surprisingly, Arthur is in on her secrets and is her sole confidant, though Guinevere is often left alone as he goes off to save the kingdom. She makes friends with her maid Brangien, and with Arthur's nephew, Mordred, who she initially distrusts as overly observant. Guinevere's mission is unclear as Merlin often speaks in riddles and is said to be able to walk through time, giving him knowledge of all that's to come. She increasingly questions Merlin's motives as she learns more about him, and wonders about the gaps in her memory, such as when she can't remember her real name. Her fear of water often becomes an issue and she's greatly distressed to find Camelot surrounded by the substance. First in a series, this fantasy novel will appeal to fans familiar with stories of Arthur, and provides an introduction to those unfamiliar. Well-paced background is provided for key characters who are allowed to develop realistically and grow with the story. White deftly weaves together traditional Arthurian legend with an original plot that will keep readers questioning what they know. VERDICT Full of battling knights and romance, this is a must purchase for all libraries serving teens.--Rebecca Greer, Hillsborough County Public Library Cooperative, FL

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Review by Kirkus Book Review

An acclaimed master of the female-centric retelling turns her hand to Arthuriana.Guinevere is a mystery: an impostor princess, daughter of Merlin, and possessor of magical knowledge, she has been sent to Camelot to pose as queen and keep Arthur safe. White (Slayer, 2019, etc.) sets up an ambitious take on Arthurian lore, with many details familiar yet alteredLancelot is a woman, Mordred is Arthur's right hand and also very appealing, and Guinevere intends only good, although it seems as if this incarnation may still bring ruin, in this case merely by being magical in a world that has banished magic. The connective tissue of the power women wield despite being overlooked doesn't always hold together, but the questions Guinevere asks about women and power, and the subtext that chaos is inherently feminine (the defeated Dark Queen, Guinevere, the Lady of the Lake) while Arthur represents masculinity and control, are intriguingalthough this volume comes to no conclusions. More diverse than many Camelot representations (Sir Bors has a physical disability, Sir Tristan has brown skin in otherwise white Camelot, and there is a pair of lesbian lovers), this is a retelling designed for a modern audience more interested in people than battles and more intrigued by identity and affection than honor and questing.A promising series opener. (Fantasy. 12-18) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

There was nothing in the world as magical and terrifying as a girl on the cusp of womanhood.   This particular girl had never before felt the power she held by existing in a space of men, but today, surrounded by them, it radiated from her. I am untouchable. They revolved around her as though she were the Earth, and they the adoring but distant sun and moon and stars. It was a type of magic in and of itself.   A veil obscured and dimmed the world around her. She sat back-achingly straight in her saddle. She did not wriggle her toes in the boots they were so unaccustomed to. She pretended she was a painting.   "I cannot believe the convent had no nuns willing to travel with you," Brangien complained, brushing at the fine layer of dust that baptized their journey. Then, as though unaware she had spoken aloud, she bowed her head. "But of course I am very pleased and honored to be here."   The smile offered in response to Brangien's apology went unacknowledged. "Of course," the girl said, but the words were not quite right. She could do better. She had to. "I do not love travel, either, and I appreciate the kindness you have shown by being my companion on this long journey. It would be lonely without you." They were surrounded by people, but to them, the blue-and-scarlet-wrapped girl was goods to be guarded and safely delivered to the new owner. She hoped desperately that Brangien, eighteen years to her own sixteen, would become a friend.   She would need one. She had never had one.   But it would also complicate things. She had so many precious hidden things. Having another woman with her at all times was both unfamiliar and dangerous. Brangien's eyes were black like her hair and hinted at cleverness. Hopefully those eyes would see only what was offered them. Brangien caught her staring and offered a tentative smile.   Focused on her companion, the girl did not notice the change outright. A subtle shift, a lessening of tension, her first breath fully drawn in two weeks. She tipped her head back and closed her eyes, grateful for the leafy green reprieve from the sun. A forest. If she were not barred on all sides by men and horses, she would hug the trees. Run her fingers along their veins to learn each tree's story.   "Tighten the circle!" Sir Bors commanded. Under the heavy arch of branches, his shout was hushed. He was a man unaccustomed to being muted. Even his mustache bristled at the offense. He moved his reins into his teeth to grip them and drew his sword with his good arm.   The girl snapped out of her daydream to see that the horses had caught the fear of the men. They shifted and stamped, eyes rolling to search as their riders did. A gust of wind lifted her veil. She met the gaze of one of the men--Mordred, three years older than she, and soon to be her nephew. His subtle mouth had twisted up at one corner as though he was amused. Had he caught her reverie before she realized she should not be pleased by the forest?   "What is it?" she asked, turning quickly away from Mordred, who was paying far too much attention. Be a painting.   Brangien shivered and shrank into her cloak. "The trees."   They crowded in on either side of the road, twisting trunks and grasping roots. Their branches laced overhead to form a tunnel. The girl did not understand the threat. No crack of a twig, no rustling. Nothing disturbed the beauty of the forest. Except her and the men around her. "What about the trees?" she asked.   Mordred answered. His face was serious, but there was a songlike quality to his voice. Playful and low. "They were not here on our journey to retrieve you."   Sword still drawn, Sir Bors clicked his tongue and his horse moved forward again. The men clustered around her and Brangien. The peace and relief the girl felt at being among trees again disappeared, soured by their fear. These men claimed every space they went into.   "What does he mean, the trees were not here?" she whispered to Brangien.   Brangien had been mouthing something. She leaned over to adjust the girl's veil and answered in a whisper as well, as though afraid the trees were listening. "Four days ago, when we passed through this area--there was no forest. All this land had been cleared. It was farms."   "Perhaps we took a different route without realizing it?"   Brangien shook her head, her face a blur of dark eyebrows and red lips. "There was a jumble of boulders an hour back. Like a giant had been playing a child's game and left his toys behind. I remember it very clearly. This is the same road." A leaf drifted down from the trees, landing as lightly as a prayer on Brangien's shoulder. Brangien squeaked with fear.   It was a simple matter to reach out and pluck the leaf from Brangien's shoulder. The girl wanted to lift it to her face, to study the story in its lines. But, touching it, she instantly sensed that it had teeth. She dropped it to the forest floor. She even checked her fingers for blood, but of course there was none.   Brangien shuddered. "There is a village not far. We can hide there."   "Hide?" They were a day from their destination. She wanted this to be over with. Everything to be done and settled. The idea of huddling with these men in a village while they waited to--what, fight a forest?--made her want to tear off her shoes, her veil, to beg the trees for safe passage. But the trees would not understand.   They were on opposite sides now, after all.   I am sorry, she thought, knowing the trees could not hear her. Wishing she could explain.   Brangien cried out again, putting her hands over her mouth in horror. The men around them stopped abruptly. They were still surrounded by green, everything filtered and unclear through the veil. Shapes loomed out of the forest, enormous boulders covered in moss and trailing vines.   Modesty be damned. She tore off her veil. The world came into startling, perfect focus.   The shapes were not boulders. They were homes. Cottages much like ones they had passed before, made of lime-washed cobs and beams with thatched roofs sloping down to the ground. But where smoke should have been drifting up from the roofs, there were flowers. In place of doors, trailing curtains of vines. It was a village reclaimed by nature. If she had to guess, she would say it had been abandoned generations ago.   "There was a child," Brangien whispered through her fingers. "He sold me bread weighted with stones. I was so cross with him."   "Where are the people?" Sir Bors asked.   "We must not linger here." Mordred veered his horse toward hers. "Surround the princess! Quickly!"   As she was carried by the momentum of her guards, she saw one last vine-covered boulder, or perhaps a tree stump. Just the right size and shape for a little boy, offering bad bread.     Excerpted from The Guinevere Deception by Kiersten White All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.