September 2003
© 2003 Ernest Lilley / SFRevu
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The Raven Warrior by Alice Borchardt
Del Rey HCVR: ISBN
0345444019 PubDate: July 2003
Review by Bruce D. Wallace

480 pages List price $25.95
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In the movie How the West was Won, Director John Ford gave us his vision of the winning of the west. In her new trilogy, The Tales OF Guinevere, author Alice Borchardt does the same for the tale of Guinevere and King Arthur.

In the Dragon Queen we meet the young Guinevere. She is young but has a great future ahead of her if she can survive. It has been foretold that she will become a great queen of her people and marry a powerful king. This union it is foretold will become a powerful unifying force and bring about a golden age of peace and high learning. The wizard Merlin is present in this tale, not as Arthurís doting teacher and court wizard but as a would be king maker who upon realizing that he cannot control Guinevere and Arthur seeks to destroy them instead. Lacking the power to destroy them directly he makes a powerful alliance with dark powers best not spoken of. This results in Arthur being transported to a distant land from which he must somehow escape and Guinevere embarking on a quest of her own which she must successfully complete in order to be reunited with Arthur and fulfill their twin destinies. At the end of this tome Guinevere has made a good start upon the long road that is her quest by ascending the throne of the Dragon Queen and making some powerful friends and allies.    

The Raven Warrior pick ups almost exactly where The Dragon Queen leaves off, Guinevere having ascended the throne of the Dragon Queen realizes that a proper queen needs a powerbase and to prove that she can protect the people that have chosen her as queen. We join her and the small band of warriors that she has been able to attract as they embarks upon a spoiling raid against the Saxon raiders that are destroying her peoples lives and livelihood. If she succeeds she will have proven herself worthy of the respect of her people. If not she will be just another pretender to the throne and her path to legend will end almost before it starts.

Meanwhile her childhood companion and would be lover who up until now has been known only as Black Leg has met a woman that will come to figure large in the legend of Arthur and Guinevere. He has met the fabled Lady of the Lake. She helps to set him on his own chosen path. He wishes to not only to become a man but the greatest warrior the world has ever known and to win once and for all the heart of Guinevere. With the help of the Lady of the Lake he soon achieves a reputation as a warrior to be reckoned with and a new name as well, Lancelot.

Arthur himself must win free of the magical trap he has found himself in, be reunited with Guinevere and be come the mighty king he is destined to be.  

The story of Guinevere, Arthur and Lancelot is one familiar to all. In this case the beauty of the story is in the strong characters, the strength of tale itself and the plot twists that make an old tale new again.  Having the story narrated by Guinevere warrior queen, a powerful warrior who goes as blindly to her fate as we all do rather than Guinevere pale but comely wife of King Arthur but little else gives the Arthurian Legend an unexpected  dimension. Alice Borchardt has not simply retold the story of Arthur and Guinevere, but brought it to life in a way that will be talked about for years.

© 2003 Ernest Lilley / SFRevu
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