Featured Review: The Camelot Betrayal (Kiersten White)
About This Book:
The second book in a new fantasy trilogy from New York Times bestselling author Kiersten White, exploring the nature of self, the inevitable cost of progress, and, of course, magic and romance and betrayal so epic Queen Guinevere remains the most famous queen who never lived.
EVERYTHING IS AS IT SHOULD BE IN CAMELOT: King Arthur is expanding his kingdom's influence with Queen Guinevere at his side. Yet every night, dreams of darkness and unknowable power plague her.
Guinevere might have accepted her role, but she still cannot find a place for herself in all of it. The closer she gets to the people around her--Brangien, pining for her lost love Isolde; Lancelot, fighting to prove her worth as Queen's knight; and Arthur, everything to everyone and thus never quite enough for Guinevere--the more she realizes how empty she is. She has no sense of who she truly was before she was Guinevere. The more she tries to claim herself as queen, the more she wonders if Mordred was right: she doesn't belong. She never will.
When a rescue goes awry and results in the death of something precious, a devastated Guinevere returns to Camelot to find the greatest threat yet has arrived. Not in the form of the Dark Queen or an invading army, but in the form of the real Guinevere's younger sister. Is her deception at an end? And who is she really deceiving--Camelot, or herself?
*Review Contributed by Olivia Farr, Staff Reviewer*
THE CAMELOT BETRAYAL continues Guinevere's story as she seeks to find her footing in a world that keeps throwing her off-balance. Mordred is gone, and though she knows that he betrayed her, convincing her heart of that seems impossible. She is devoted to her mission of protecting Arthur and Camelot, but the lines around doing so are growing hazy.
To make matters more complicated, Guinevere's sister, Guinevach, has arrived in Camelot and seems to recognize her. Guinevere knows that she is not the actual Guinevere, so she is sure a sinister plot is afoot with Guinevach at the center. However, proving it and keeping Camelot safe seems harder than she could have anticipated. As lines blur, Guinevere needs to find not only the truth but also herself, defining her morality and deciding who she wants to be in this mystical world.
What I loved: Guinevere's internal conflicts are really the main themes here, and they spoke to me so well. She is not sure who she wants to be and how to fit into the life she has. Guinevere feels that she is missing so much without her memories and cannot decide how much she can let herself care for the people around her, especially when her magic and decisions seem to lead to consequences she did not want. There are some interesting discussions around intent and morality, as well as the ethical gray around decisions that may have negative consequences - especially when the intent was the opposite. There is also some ambiguity in how others have applied similar things, and I appreciated how Guinevere weighs and her ideas on these evolve in the book. For these reasons, this book would be an excellent choice for a book club.
I also really appreciated that this book recaps everything from the previous book well, so you can pick it up even if it has been a while since you read the first. The characters that I loved so much continue to shine through this book. While they have their flaws, they are easily endeared to the reader. I also appreciate that we get to see the side of some of the seeming "villains," and the ambiguity in their deeds left to interpretation. Guinevere really grows as a person in this book, and I appreciated watching her journey - this book ends up being quite introspective about herself, her relationships, and the key people around her.
As a warning, this book ends with another cliffhanger, and I am super eager to see where this one goes. I don't want to give anything away, but I am so excited and intrigued by what will happen next.
Final verdict: THE CAMELOT BETRAYAL is an intriguing sequel to THE GUINEVERE DECEPTION with thought-provoking themes, well-crafted characters, and an introspective tone. I highly recommend picking up this clever YA fantasy/retelling series.
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