Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Fellowship of the Round Table by Jan Rider Newman

Every time I read the legend of King Arthur and his knights, or see a movie based on it, I hope the story will turn out differently. I want Camelot to live forever, as it does in the Prince Valiant comic strip. I want Guinevere to chose Arthur. For some reason, the necessity of her finding true love and fulfillment with Lancelot instead breaks my heart. I think it’s supposed to. That’s the way the tale is written, and forever it shall be.

Several years ago I found Persia Woolley’s trilogy based on the Arthurian legends. It ended the way it had to, of course, but told a wonderful story through the eyes of Guinevere.

Child of the Northern Spring (Poseidon Press, New York, 1987) introduces us to the Celtic princess destined to be the High Queen of Britain and wife of the High King, Arthur. The girl we meet is a tomboy, no stately, elegant lady. She is lively, passionate, intelligent, and the king she marries loves her very much. Unfortunately, he is more king than husband, which is a constant in the legends. The royal couple have no children, and he isn’t a very satisfactory lover.

In the first book we also meet other key figures: Merlin, Morgan le Fey, Mordred, Gawain, and all the other knights. In this first book a united kingdom is established, and the marriage is happy if somewhat unfulfilling.

In Queen of the Summer Stars (Poseidon Press, New York, 1990), the tomboy Guinevere grows into her role as queen and wife. The grand castle of Camelot is raised, the Round Table established. Wars, adventures, and romances keep the pace breathless. And Lancelot rides onto the scene, bringing Arthur a steadfast friend and advisor and Guinevere the romance and passion her marriage is missing.

Guinevere (Poseidon Press, New York, 1991), opens with the kingdom well established. Peace reigns in Britain under the excellent leadership of Arthur and his right hand, Lancelot. Guinevere loves both men, and both love her. But even the most outstanding ruler has enemies. The most stable kingdom has pretenders. The best marriages and friendships are flawed. All falls apart. Again. Gloriously.

Whether you love myth and legend, adventure tales, romances, or historical novels, you’ll find something to love in this trilogy. Vividly told and characterized, the story will make you wish you’d lived at Camelot, been friends with the king and queen and their knights and ladies, and had a hand in building the greatest kingdom of all time.

Jan Rider Newman is Vice President and Gator Talk editor of BWG. She has published short stories, poetry, and nonfiction, and has earned prizes for her work as well as grants from the Louisiana Council of the Arts. Her work has appeared in the New Orleans Review, Denver Quarterly, Louisiana Literature, Oasis Journal (2007, 2008, 2009), and Sweet Tea and Afternoon Tales (anthology). Read her personal blog HERE.


  1. Boy, Jan, you have mentioned some things I feel each time I read a book focusing on the Arhurian Legend. I've read the series you mention as well as Mary Stewart's series. Many others, as well. Thanks for this post. I believe I'll dig out my Arthurian books and re-read them.

  2. The Arthur stories continue to draw me in, wishing, as you do, that they will end differently.
    I also enjoyed The Mists of Avalon, another view of the beginnings of Arthur. Liked this post, Jan.

  3. Thank God for every person that keeps the classics alive. Today everything is about "high concept"--totally outlandish ideas (like Abe Lincoln as a young Vampire Hunter?) What ever happened to just writing a good story that moves the reader, be it romance or western, or thriller? It used to be if you had a strong characters and good writing you had a shot--today? It's mostly about the idea.