I first read Queen of the Summer Stars as a teenager. Sometimes when you read books again from your youth you puzzle on why you remember it so fondly. Other times you realize what a great book it really was and read it again from a new prospective with added age (and hopefully wisdom). Queen of the Summer Stars is one such book; a book I loved as a teenager, and a book that I have discovered again is as good and even better than I remember it.
Queen of the Summer Stars is the second book in Persia Woolley’s Guinevere series. Guinevere and Arthur are the young recently married High King and Queen of Britain. Arthur has a dream to unite the Kingdom and Guinevere is an efficient Celtic Queen who works hard to keep the dream alive. King Ban’s son, Lancelot, joins the round table. He quickly becomes Arthur’s right hand man, but exhibits coldness towards Guinevere. Slowly, the two become friends, and realize that they have feelings for each other beyond friendship. Will Guinevere risk it all for love as her friends Isolde and Tristan did? Or will she remain a true Celtic Queen and stay with Arthur?
I love, love, love the Arthur-Guinevere-Lancelot love triangle. I’ve never seen it written more movingly then in Queen of the Summer Stars. Arthur is Lancelot’s best friend, a man he genuinely respects and cares for. Loving Guinevere is heart wrenching for him, but even more so for Guinevere. Guinevere loves and respects Arthur, but has come to realize that he will always care for Britain more than he will for her. They have a good relationship, but are missing the intensity of true love. Guinevere and Lancelot are kindred spirits and love each other, but can’t act on that love for their mutual love of Arthur. It is a gripping read and a truly wonderful love triangle.
I also enjoy that this story is told from Guinevere’s perspective. Guinevere is no silly, fickle queen as portrayed in other versions of the legend. She is a strong queen who is very much a co-ruler with Arthur. She also gets her hands dirty, be it helping out in the kitchen, or getting different castles set up to live in or host visitors.
Persia Woolley writes the Guinevere trilogy in a historical fiction setting. Her novels are very well researched and are set in the period after the Romans have occupied Britain. There is a power void in Britain and Arthur has stepped in to fill that void and bring the various people of Britain together to fight against invaders. Her writing is superb and gives one a real sense of being in Britain during the early middle ages.
I love Arthurian legends by Mary Stewart and Marion Zimmer Bradley, but Persia Woolley’s Guinevere trilogy is my favorite version of the legend. I wish Starz would have made this trilogy into a series rather than their quite terrible Camelot series!
Overall, Queen of the Summer Stars is a wonderful book with a great historical fiction background and a very romantic love triangle. It is quite simply, the best version of the Arthurian legend that I have read.
Queen of the Summer Stars is my fourteenth item for the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge 2011.
For my review of the first book in this series, Child of the Northern Spring, please see this link. Also, check out this link for a great interview with Persia Woolley about Child of the Northern Spring and her Guinevere trilogy.
What books have you've read again as an adult that have been even better than you remember? What are your favorite Arthurian legend books?
Book Source: Advance Review Copy from Sourcebooks. Thank-you!