Britain during the Dark Ages was a wild and savage land divided into many sections and each ruled by a different king. The High King and heir of King Arthur was to unite them against the Saxon invaders, but King Constantine died in battle, leaving Queen Isolde to oversee the council until another High King is chosen. Isolde, branded daughter of a traitor and granddaughter of a witch, finds she cannot inspire loyalty among her late husband’s men. Lacking respect or power, she must find a way to uncover the truth behind her husband’s untimely death and lay evidence before the men who despise and mistrust her. With the help of a mysterious Saxon prisoner, she not only escapes impossible circumstances, but digs into her own long-buried past and rediscovers herself.
Being my first Arthurian read, I found the characters familiar but not exact to the popular legends. Some names, relationships and characters are altered and this is because the author has used as her main source the earliest version of the tale, Geoffrey of Monmouth’s 12th century writings. Lancelot you will not find in Twilight of Avalon or the other two books in the series: Dark Moon of Avalon and Sunrise of Avalon. Guinevere had betrayed Arthur with his usurper, Modred, resulting in the birth of Isolde. At times the backtracking and foreshadowing were confusing, but near the end of the book loose ends are tied–though enough questions hang in the air to make the reader eager to start the next in the trilogy.
Though there is much privation and brutality, there is also compassion and self-sacrifice from many characters, balancing the good and the bad. I felt the protagonist, though maddeningly secretive at times, completely likable and easily empathized with. Other characters took much longer to trust and understand, but I look forward to continuing the story–one of the things I love about series books.
You can download two free companion eBooks at http://www.annaelliottbooks.com, Dawn of Avalon and The Witch Queen’s Secret.