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The Guinevere Deception: Camelot Rising, Book 1

Book review by
Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media
The Guinevere Deception: Camelot Rising, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Arthur's fair maiden freshly reimagined as powerful witch.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Readers can compare this to the legends of King Arthur, Guinevere, Merlin, and Camelot. Start with The Sword in the Stone by T. H. White. Also touches on the challenges of building a safe, prosperous, and more sanitary society in medieval times.

Positive Messages

Ruling justly requires sacrifices. A fair and safe society is chosen over the power-thirsty chaos of a magically ruled one. Like most Arthur legends told, duty, loyalty, and bravery all shine.

Positive Role Models & Representations

This Guinevere is much stronger than the one of myth and legend. She's brave and determined, yet she still doesn't know how to use her strength. She battles with her two roles: magical protector and dutiful queen. It feels like she's settled for less than she needs by the end, from her life and from her relationship with Arthur.

Violence

Most of the violence comes from magically controlled animals and trees. Wolves and a boar attack, a spider bite is nearly fatal, and tree roots squeeze the life out of knights and horses. Arrows also kill a few bad guys and a kidnapping includes a rough interrogation with the threat of death. Stories of a woman impaled on a charging stag, a village devoured by trees controlled by evil forces, and a man who took two daughters from a village, raped them, and "discarded" them.

Sex

Kissing, and lots of talk and innuendo around Camelot about Guinevere and Arthur's sex life (which is nonexistent). A lesbian relationship. Talk of menstruation and why women menstruate.

Language

"S--t" in a few humorous connotations (a street that used to be running with sewage, and the name of a chicken). Plus "damn" and "ass" rarely.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Guinevere, 16, and Arthur, 18, drink wine at her wedding and watered wine alone together. Some celebratory drinking to drunkenness (wine, ale) by knights and townsfolk.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Guinevere Deception is the first book in the Camelot Rising trilogy by Kiersten White, author of the And I Darken trilogy, Illusions of Fate, and The Chaos of Stars. Readers who are not as familiar with Arthurian legend will learn a bit here about Camelot, Merlin, and the Knights of the Round Table. Guinevere is imagined as more of central figure here, not just a fair maiden but Merlin's magic-wielding daughter sent to protect Arthur. And, sure enough, the worst of the violence here comes from magically controlled animals and trees. Wolves and a boar attack, a spider bite is nearly fatal, and tree roots squeeze the life out of knights and horses. Arrows also kill a few bad guys and a kidnapping includes a rough interrogation with the threat of death. Expect some straight kissing and innuendo and talk of an LGBTQ relationship. Guinevere (16) and Arthur (18) both drink wine, and other knights and villagers overindulge in celebration. Language includes "s--t," "ass," and "damn." While Guinevere still hasn't discovered her true strength by the end of The Guinevere Deception, she's brave and determined, and her husband, Arthur, sacrifices much to rule Camelot and protect his people.

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What's the story?

In THE GUINEVERE DECEPTION, Guinevere's marriage to Arthur begins as a lie. She's not even really Guinevere but Merlin's daughter taking the place of the deceased princess, told that she is to protect Arthur from dark magic. None of the knights who fetch her from the convent seem to notice her lack of refinement or her affinity with the natural world, except Merlin's nephew, Mordred, who finds her charming. Brangien, her lady's maid, is also fooled at first, despite all the times Guinevere sneaks out of the castle at night wearing Brangien's cloak. Even though magic was supposed to be banished from Camelot along with Merlin, she sees small signs lurking everywhere amid her queenly duties: a mysterious, masked knight who tries to get closer to Arthur; rocks imbued with magic near the palace; poisonous, rampaging creatures in the nearby woods; dead spiders outside the magical barriers she's placed on every palace entrance. She's not sure what's coming, just as she's not sure how Merlin thinks her magic can save Camelot.

Is it any good?

Though the plot meanders, this reimagining of Guinevere's role in Camelot still intrigues with dark magic, a forbidden romance, and mystery. Guinevere is an enigma even to herself. She doesn't know her old name, who her mother was, or how involved Merlin was in her life before. And she can't trace her extreme fear of water to a trauma from her nebulous past. This mystery doesn't always build smoothly in The Guinevere Deception, and neither does Guinevere's understanding of her role in Camelot and what she really wants it to be, but the story still draws the reader along as Guinevere learns what it takes to both be queen and protect Camelot.

Like the original legend, a love triangle ensues. But it doesn't include Lancelot this time -- the knight is a totally new surprise for readers we won't spoil here. Here's hoping more curious surprises are in store for the rest of the trilogy.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Guinevere in The Guinevere Deception. How is this Guinevere different from past versions? What does her perspective bring to the story?

  • What did you learn about medieval times and King Arthur from this book? Where else can you learn more?

  • Will you read more in the trilogy? What do you think will happen to Guinevere and Camelot next?

Book details

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