Yeah! Another entry! today's guest review is by Zeek, from The Way I see It! I hope you will all enjoy the review of The Dragon Queen!
The Dragon Queen by Alice Borchardt
3.6 out of 5
Genre: fantasy; Arthurian
Series: The Tales of Guinevere, Book #1
Publishing Details: Mass Market Paperback: 512 pages
Publisher: Del Rey; Reissue edition (June 3, 2003)
Creatures featured: Sorcerers and Sorceresses, Faeries, Faun's, Dragons, Mystical Beasts, Mythological God's.
"Born into a world of terrible strife, where war is constant and weapons are never far from the hands of men or women, Guinevere, daughter of a mighty pagan queen, is a threat to her people and a prize to the dreaded sorcerer Merlin. Sent into hiding, she grows up under the protection of a shapeshifting man-wolf and an ornery Druid. But even on the remote coast of Scotland, where dragons feed and watch over her, she is not safe from the all-seeing High Druid Merlin. He knows the young beauty's destiny, and he will stop at nothing to prevent what has been foretold. For if Guinevere becomes queen and Arthur, king, they will bring a peace to the land that will leave the power-hungry Merlin a shriveled magician in a weary cloak." Yet Guinevere possesses power of her own - dazzling power to rival even that of Merlin. Summoned from her home by forces she cannot fathom, she travels from the Underworld to an Other world of the Past, at each step calling on ancient powers to aid her. When young Guinevere proves her mettle to an embarrassed Merlin, even her faithful dragon protectors cannot prevent the evil that the sorcerer rains down. Seeking revenge, Merlin banishes Arthur to a world from which the only escape is death. Now Guinevere must face Merlin's wrath without him - and prove that she is worthy of being Arthur's queen.
Although I liked this tale overall, there were pieces of it that bogged the story down for me.
The Dragon Queen is yet another entry into the tales of Arthur and The Knights of the Round Table (who look like Clark Cable!) For those who love their Arthurian legends with Merlin as the big bad- then this book's for you. For those who don't- then Run away! Run away! (Sorry, couldn't resist the annoying homage to Monty Python ...)
TDQ centers around Guinevere, the warrior queen of Arthur and in Borchardt's version she is indeed a warrior. Guinevere, has the beauty of previous Arthurian tales, but in TDQ she's not the sweet little misguided star-crossed over of Lancelot that we usually see her portrayed to be. Courageous and bold she has power in her right hand where ferocious fire emanates (grand super power that!), and healing in her left. Moreover, arrows flyout her bow as if an extension of her arm, she communicates with dragons- as well with the dead, displays prophetic abilities, and audaciously defeats asundry of evil beasts that Merlin flings at her.
The story begins with Maeniel, Guinevere's soon to be foster father. Maeniel, otherwise knows as the Gray Watcher, is a shapeshifting man/wolf who has personally felt the destructive powers of Merlin. Deciding that being a wolf was much preferred to living with the humans, he escapes to the wilds and begins a family. It is during his time with the wolves that Guinevere falls into his care, and the Gray Watcher, along with the sorcerer Dugald- who Merlin chased into hiding long ago- take up the charge of raising her. The Gray Watcher's wolf mate nurses
Guinevere from the time they find her left on a cliff and later a woman joins them who will teach her the ways of her people- a people she never knew.
As a child, Guinevere helps her village to defeat a marauding group of seafarers- and it is here where we see her potential for greatness begin to come forth. Guinevere grows in stature, wisdom and power and, though still only a young teen through much of the story, she quickly finds herself thrust into peril. Merlin wants her dead, and though the author details many things in TDQ, I never quite got the gist of his motive for seeking to destroy her so passionately. The only thing I can figure is that she must be the one who either precipitates or actually carries out Merlin's eventual destruction.
Many other side characters show up to aid and engage her in battle. There are all kinds of fantasy creatures- including mythological gods- that she meets up with but, eventually she meets her future in the boy of Arthur. Arthur is just as strong as she- and closer to her age then what I've seen portrayed before. Set long before Camalot, he's young and only discovering who and what he's eventually going to be. Much of the middle of the book is from his POV, where he meets the Lady of the Lake. I was disappointed however, that at the end of TDQ, he and Guinevere do not meet up again. (I suppose that will come in later installments.)
The jumping around of POV's was rather confusing for me and the author lost me a bit until it began to pick up again toward the end. The book is full of detailed descriptions of the world Borchardt has created and some of it became overwhelming. To me her descriptions dragged the story down and lost me for most of the middle of the book. But, as I said before, by the end I was back with her.
This is definitely sequel bait- the story is far from over. I'm interested to see where the author- who is Anne Rice's sister, btw- will take it.