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Daughter of Destiny (Guinevere's Tale Book 1) by Nicole Evelina

Thursday, January 26, 2017
Daughter of Destiny, Guinevere's Tale, Nicole Evelina, Arthurian, fantasy, book review

Source: I purchased a print copy from the author at Penned Con 2016.
Genre: Fantasy, Arthurian
Format: eBook, Print
Publication Date: January 1, 2016

Back Cover

Before queenship and Camelot, Guinevere was a priestess of Avalon. She loved another before Arthur, a warrior who would one day betray her.

In the war-torn world of late fifth century Britain, young Guinevere faces a choice: stay with her family to defend her home at Northgallis from the Irish, or go to Avalon to seek help for the horrific visions that haunt her. The Sight calls her to Avalon, where she meets Morgan, a woman of questionable parentage who is destined to become her rival. As Guinevere matures to womanhood, she gains the powers of a priestess, and falls in love with a man who will be both her deepest love and her greatest mistake.

Just when Guinevere is able to envision a future in Avalon, tragedy forces her back home, into a world she barely recognizes, one in which her pagan faith, outspokenness, and proficiency in the magical and military arts are liabilities. When a chance reunion with her lover leads to disaster, she is cast out of Northgallis and into an uncertain future. As a new High King comes to power, Guinevere must navigate a world of political intrigue where unmarried women are valuable commodities and seemingly innocent actions can have life-altering consequences.

You may think you know the story of Guinevere, but you’ve never heard it like this: in her own words. Listen and you will hear the true story of Camelot and its queen.

Review

The tale follows Guinevere as she is initiated in Avalon where she learns how to control her visions, becomes rivals with a strange girl named Morgan, attains her powers as a Priestess, falls in love, and returns home after her mother's death to find that her father has cast aside the traditions that his late wife revered to embrace Christianity.

Guinevere finds herself at odds with her father as he discourages her from weapons training, encourages her to be less outspoken, and has forbidden her from seeing the man she fell in love with during her time in Avalon. Guinevere rebels, but to no avail; her father sends her away to learn "womanly arts" so that she may find a husband, despite her "impurity."

Guinevere soon finds herself embroiled in political intrigue in her new home, and discovers that she is considered a rare commodity to be traded for wealth and power.

I've read Arthurian books in the past and the majority of them had sinister, judgmental, undertones when discussing Merlin, Guinevere, and Morgan le Fay. I struggled to finish them because I was disgusted by how these legends were portrayed. When I met Evelina at a convention, she told me that she wrote about strong female protagonists and I was a bit curious to read her interpretation of the legends.

I don't know what I was expecting, but I wasn't expecting to read the whole book in one night. It was that good!

The sinister and judgmental interpretations of Guinevere's tale are left by the wayside as Evelina creates a vibrant and realistic portrait of Guinevere, an intelligent, strong and caring girl who goes to Avalon to control her visions; only to return home to find that the traditions and practices that she grew up with are considered taboo. Guinevere's co-characters are equally well-developed and engaging as each one adds a unique voice and perspective to Guinevere's tale.

I was impressed with Evelina's knowledge of Arthurian legend. There are so many different interpretations; however, she managed to put her own spin on those interpretations while adhering to what many literary experts consider to be authentic. I was also captivated by Evelina's writing style, it flows beautifully and her ability to use terms that are older but still comprehensible to the average reader is amazing. I didn't have to use my knowledge of etymology in order to understand what she wrote and, when she did use older terms, they were spelled correctly and were relevant!

Daughter of Destiny is a wonderful Arthurian fantasy that combines the authentic aspects of the legend with the author's unique perspective. I am more than happy to recommend this to women and men who, like me, enjoy Arthurian legends in theory but find themselves tired of the Judeo-Christian slant that is inherent in many of the interpretations.

About Nicole Evelina

Nicole Evelina, author of Daughter of Destiny, Guinevere's Tale, fantasy, Arthurian, book review
Nicole Evelina, author. Courtesy of Goodreads.
Nicole Evelina is a multi-award-winning historical fiction and romantic comedy writer. Her most recent novel, Madame Presidentess, a historical novel about Victoria Woodhull, America's first female Presidential candidate, was the first place winner in the Women’s US History category of the 2015 Chaucer Awards for Historical Fiction.

Her debut novel, Daughter of Destiny, the first book of an Arthurian legend trilogy that tells Guinevere’s life story from her point of view, was named Book of the Year by Chanticleer Reviews, took the Grand Prize in the 2015 Chatelaine Awards for Women’s Fiction/Romance, won a Gold Medal in the fantasy category in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards, a Gold Medal in the fantasy category in the Reader’s Favorite Awards, and was short-listed for the Chaucer Award for Historical Fiction. Its sequel, Camelot’s Queen, was awarded the prestigious B.R.A.G Medallion. Been Searching for You, her contemporary romantic comedy, won the 2016 Colorado Independent Publishers Association Award for Romance, the 2015 Romance Writers of America (RWA) Great Expectations and Golden Rose contests and was a finalist in the chick-lit category of the Readers Favorite Awards.

Nicole’s writing has appeared in The Huffington Post, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Independent Journal, Curve Magazine and numerous historical publications. She is one of only six authors who completed a week-long writing intensive taught by #1 New York Times bestselling author Deborah Harkness. As an armchair historian, Nicole researches her books extensively, consulting with biographers, historical societies and traveling to locations when possible. For example, she traveled to England twice to research the Guinevere’s Tale trilogy, where she consulted with internationally acclaimed author and historian Geoffrey Ashe, as well as Arthurian/Glastonbury expert Jaime George, the man who helped Marion Zimmer Bradley research The Mists of Avalon.

Nicole is President-elect and self-publishing liaison for the Romance Writers of America (RWA)’s Missouri chapter. She is also a member of and book reviewer for The Historical Novel Society, as well as a member of the Historical Writers of America, the St. Louis Writer’s Guild, Women Writing the West, Alliance of Independent Authors, the Independent Book Publishers Association and the Midwest Publisher’s Association.
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