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Friday, January 29, 2021

The Camelot Betrayal by Kiersten White (reviewed by Caitlin Grieve)


Official Author Website
Order the book HERE
Read Caitlin’s review of The Guineverve Deception

OFFICIAL AUTHOR WEBSITE: Kiersten White
is the New York Times bestselling and Bram Stoker award-winning author of the And I Darken trilogy, the Paranormalcy trilogy, The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein, Slayer, The Guinevere Deception, and many other novels. Kiersten lives with her family in sunny San Diego, California, where she perpetually lurks in the shadows.

OFFICIAL BOOK BLURB: EVERYTHING IS AS IT SHOULD BE IN CAMELOT: King Arthur is expanding his kingdom's influence with Queen Guinevere at his side. Yet every night, dreams of darkness and unknowable power plague her.

Guinevere might have accepted her role, but she still cannot find a place for herself in all of it. The closer she gets to the people around her--Brangien, pining for her lost love Isolde; Lancelot, fighting to prove her worth as Queen's knight; and Arthur, everything to everyone and thus never quite enough for Guinevere--the more she realizes how empty she is. She has no sense of who she truly was before she was Guinevere. The more she tries to claim herself as queen, the more she wonders if Mordred was right: she doesn't belong. She never will.

When a rescue goes awry and results in the death of something precious, a devastated Guinevere returns to Camelot to find the greatest threat yet has arrived. Not in the form of the Dark Queen or an invading army, but in the form of the real Guinevere's younger sister. Is her deception at an end? And who is she really deceiving--Camelot, or herself?

FORMAT/INFO:
The Camelot Betrayal was published on November 10th, 2020 be Delacorte Press. It is 400 pages split over 43 chapters. It is told in third person from the POV of Guinevere. It is available in hardcover, ebook, and audiobook formats.

OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: Guinevere and Arthur may have turned back the Dark Queen for now, but that hardly means the threats to Camelot are over. Guinevere works daily to shore up magical defenses against potential threats, while Arthur looks to securing alliances with the other rules on Camelot’s borders. But even as Guinevere strives to be a queen that can help shoulder the burden of ruling the city, she struggles with the question of SHOULD she even be the ruler? After all, Guinevere has taken the place of a woman who is dead, pretending to be a queen on the instructions of Merlin. But why does Merlin want Guinevere in Camelot? What is her connection to the Lady of the Lake? And is the girl who’s just arrived in Camelot truly Guinevere’s sister, or a plant by dark forces?

My relationship with The Camelot Betrayal is best summed up in the following anecdote. I read the bulk of the book (75%!) in one day. It was rainy, my bed was nice and cozy, and I found myself curled up under the covers and just effortlessly reading for hours. I was entranced and loving the time I spent with the characters, but I found myself coming out of my reverie around the 80% mark and asking myself, “…what exactly is the threat in this book?”

That’s the thing about The Camelot Betrayal: not a lot happens in it. Oh there’s a dragon and a battle and a wedding and magic, but the plot is largely a string of unrelated events, with nothing remotely feeling like a climax happening until the final pages of the book. Even the mysterious sister who is teased as the main threat on the book jacket doesn’t become a significant plot point until over halfway through the story.

But while The Camelot Betrayal might be meandering, I was perfectly content to sit down with the characters and see where they went. My love for these characters, from Guinevere to Lancelot to Mordred and beyond, is what kept me reading. A lot of light is shed on side characters and their backstories, revealing things like why Lancelot is so determined to be Guinevere’s knight, and what really happened between Tristan and Isolde and Brangien.

And while the events in the book don’t appear to be driving towards a real narrative point, they are all informing Guinevere’s central battle: what kind of person is she? A changeling with few memories of her life before Camelot, Guinevere came to the city under a set of presumptions, many of which have proven to be false. She wants to protect those she loves, but is she willing to act as callously as Merlin, a man who treats the world like a chess board, with little regard for the emotions of those he manipulates? All the events in The Camelot Betrayal are about Guinevere being forced to confront whether she can live with the lives she takes, if it means that Arthur and Camelot are safe.

CONCLUSION:
The mystery of Guinevere’s past – who she was before Merlin sent her to Camelot, why she has no memories, what her connection is to the Lady of the Lake – remains maddeningly enshrouded in secrets. The knowledge that the next book is the finale in the trilogy gives me hope for resolution, because what tidbits ARE shared continued to keep me intrigued. The Camelot Rising trilogy might not be the most action-packed, but they have proven to be literally perfect for a rainy day.

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