Persia Woolley,
Queen of the Summer Stars
(Pocket, 1991)

It's a golden age in Britain. Arthur and Guinevere rule over a land of peace and prosperity and, except for occasional border squabbles and one quickly silenced rebellion, the nation is blessed.

At least it seems so on the surface, but beneath the calm exterior there are numerous plots, fights and machinations that keep Arthur from resting too comfortably on his throne. Persia Woolley's Queen of the Summer Stars, the second book in the author's Guinevere trilogy, covers the middle years of the famous couple's reign.

Both of Arthur's sisters, Morgause and Morgan, reveal insidious plots to topple his crown. A Saxon prince with a claim on the throne tries to rally the loyal Federate Saxons to his cause. Guinevere is kidnapped by a northern kinsman with dark ambitions. A Cornish king threatens war when his Irish bride and his nephew steal away and seek sanctuary at Arthur's court. Key romances run aground -- including Arthur's, as the gentle king proves unable to give voice to his love and need for his queen. And Guinevere finds herself turning to the king's best friend for solace....

It was a long, four-year delay between Child of the Northern Spring and its sequel, but it was well worth the wait.

In her introduction to the book, Woolley explains the three types of Arthurian novels -- history, fantasy and romance -- and explains her decision to give her trilogy a historical foundation. Unfortunately, publishers of the original paperback edition of this book must have assumed otherwise; the cover art suggests a romance novel, and I can only guess that image hurt sales.

Seen through the queen's eyes, the great story is tempered by her grace, compassion, love and loyalty.

by Tom Knapp
10 December 2005

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