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Gwenhwyfar: The White Spirit

3.69 of 5 stars 3.69  ·  rating details  ·  2,377 ratings  ·  212 reviews
The bestselling author of the Valdemar novels pens a classic tale about King Arthur?s legendary queen.

Gwenhwyfar moves in a world where gods walk among their pagan worshipers, where nebulous visions warn of future perils, and where there are two paths for a woman: the path of the Blessing or the rarer path of the Warrior. Gwenhwyfar chooses the latter, giving up the power
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Hardcover, 404 pages
Published October 6th 2009 by DAW Hardcover (first published September 29th 2009)
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The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer BradleyThe Once and Future King by T.H. WhiteMary Stewart's Merlin Trilogy by Mary StewartLe Morte d'Arthur by Thomas MaloryThe Winter King by Bernard Cornwell
Best Arthurian Fiction
52nd out of 331 books — 1,164 voters
The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer BradleyThe Once and Future King by T.H. WhiteMary Stewart's Merlin Trilogy by Mary StewartLe Morte d'Arthur by Thomas MalorySir Gawain and the Green Knight by Unknown
The Arthurian Legend Retold
77th out of 352 books — 617 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Wealhtheow
Sep 28, 2010 Wealhtheow rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Wealhtheow by: norabombay
Shelves: fantasy
Lackey has been writing Mary-Sues in fantasy crack-fic for decades now, so this book came as a surprise to me. She's clearly put in research into early Celtic life and tales--her Gwenhwyfar serves mead and ale with her own hands in a great hall filled with dog shit. This is probably the best book she's ever written--certainly it's the most controlled. But still, sadly disappointing. If you tackle Arthurian legend after centuries of people messing with it, you'd better have something new and inte ...more
Linda
Hands down my absolute favorite retelling of the ancient Arthurian legend. Lackey draws on an obscure source for core of her plot, allowing her some freedom with Gwenhwyfar's character. I loved the way she made Gwen a strong and confident warrior without depriving her of her womanhood, or of her sense. I especially love how cleverly she brought the tale to its resolution, moving all the parties into their inevitable positions but in a way that is utterly new. As a scholar of medieval literature, ...more
Nikki
Mercedes Lackey's version of Guinevere's story is mostly distinctive in her choice of sources: she has taken elements mainly from the Welsh tradition, and tried to weave a coherent story out of them. The three Gwenhwyfars named in the Triads, the abductions by both Melwas and Medraut, Gwenhwyfach... It's very interesting that she chose to use the Welsh tales.

The subtleties of the relationship between the Christians and the pagans in this story were also an interesting decision. Normally people d
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Nancy
In this Arthurian novel, Lackey focuses on the Welsh tales of Gwenhwyfar (Guinevere), in which King Arthur has three wives in succession, each named Gwenhwyfar. The Gwenhwyfar of this novel is one of four daughters of a Celtic King. Intended by her mother to go and serve the Ladies, learning the magic of the old pagan rites and becoming a Priestess, Gwenhwyfar is much more interested in horses and in becoming a warrior. At the encouragement of Braith, one of her father’s warriors, and because sh ...more
Ksenia
I am so glad I got to read this. I was worried that with the short time that the library gave me, I wouldn’t be able to, but I decided to put aside Beautiful Creatures to read this tale. This was my first time reading a Mercedes Lackey book and I am so thrilled it was this one. In the tradition of her own mentor, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Ms. Lackey writes a beautiful story about the Arthurian myth. One of the most intriguing parts of this story is that, as the author mentions, Arthur might have ha ...more
Cindi
Mercedes Lackey is my "comfort" author; I was always a reader but when a guy in a used bookstore turned me on to her and Jack Chalker, my world view changed drastically. I was affected deeply by Misty's "Magic's Promise" series and so read everything by her that I could get my hands on.

In recent years, I have not been as fond of her collaborations but have continued to read Misty when I saw new books by her at my library. Gwenhwyfar is one of those books. As she says, almost every author at some
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Kara
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kathy Davie
The Story
This Gwen was the third of four daughters of a subject king of Arthur's while the mother was magic. Gwen had been blessed by Epona and the Ladies meaning she could perform well as a warrior or be taught to use her magic by the Ladies. Choosing the warrior's role, Gwen advanced to the role of war chief for her father. Intelligent, canny in the way of war, Gwen was happy in her life.

Oh, yes, there were stumbles along the way. Her youngest sister, Gwynhwyfach, was a spoiled brat eager to h
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Francine
Jul 24, 2011 Francine rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Joy Macpherson
Well, I would love to say I enjoyed this book, and I did, in the beginning. It was very well-written, and Mercedes Lackey certainly did her part in performing a cursory overview of the old ways, including adding parts from the Mabinogion and the Welsh triads, and even a bit from Gildas' De Excidio and Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia regum Brittaniae. She did a good job in providing a very broad strokes overview of the Arthurian legend, and from a very different perspective. I also appreciated th ...more
Joana
Ao longos dos anos, muita tinta fez correr a lenda do Rei Artur. Com ele vem a famosa espada excalibur; a sua rainha Guinevere (Gwenhyfar); o seu fiél chefe de guerra, Sir Lancelot; e Morgana, a temível meia- irmã de Artur.
De certo, estão familiarizados com as várias ramificações desta lenda, que até filmes já originou, devido à sua popularidade.
Mas, para os mais distraídos... Artur torna-se Rei, embora sendo um filho ilegítimo. Casa com Gwen, mas o coração da mesma pertence a Lancelot e vice-ve
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BooksAndTea
Ugh. UGH. I like retakes on the Arthurian legend, but I was not happy with this. I was appalled to see (after I bought it) that the author's mentor was Marion Zimmerman Bradley, who wrote "The Mists of Avalon". I HATED that book and hoped that this would be better.

Initially there's some potential and a spin on the legend I had not considered. But Lackey spends WAY too much time on Gwenhyfar's childhood and training. It took forever to get to the actual Arthurian legend, and honestly I lost inter
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SarahC
I think to love a new version of the Arthurian legends I have to share something of the same philosophy about the overall legends with that of the author. That also includes the literary or maybe the artistic depth of it all, since the authors are using stories we are all so familiar with.

So in this sense, I don't feel I connected with Mercedes Lackey's story of Queen Gwyhwyfar. I believe Lackey was trying hard to make Gwen a strong, standout character but she was almost moved too far past the
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Steven Cole
I've been a fan of Mercedes Lackey for a long time (but have actually managed to read few of her more recent books), as well as a fan of Arthurian-age novels since I first read The Once and Future King way back in my teenage years.

So when I spotted this book in the "new" section of the library, I picked it up to see Lackey's take on an old familiar story.

She did a great job. Taking the point of view of Guinevere led to a wonderful narrative, and following her from her childhood through Arthur's
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Colleen
A solid enough outing from Ms. Lackey, though it doesn't quite sparkle like the other worlds she's made hers. The emphasis on horsemanship was expected, and it's a neat take on the Matter of Britain. Perhaps I've just ... had enough of those, finally?

I will say that Lackey's Arthur was perhaps the best drawn character, for the simple fact of the unwitting devotion that he is always recounted as inspiring. It was nice to see this iconic figure as something other than strictly heroic - the questio
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Miranda
If you like the various re-tellings of the Arthurian legend, this is an interesting take on it.

Ms. Lackey apparently found period poetry that implies Guinevere was, in fact, 3 different women. This is the story of the 3rd Guinevere (Gwenhwyfar) from childhood to warriorhood to bride.

Caution: there is not a lot of story re: Arthur and his Round Table in here. The jacket sleeve gives homage to Marion Zimmer Bradley. I would disagree. Just b/c it's about women, doesn't make it a feminist take or
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Brekke
I've been meaning to read this one for awhile and finally managed to get a copy to do so. I love Mercedes Lackey and will read pretty much anything she writes with a great amount of pleasure. Her take on Arthurian tales was, in my opinion, sure to be great and I was not disappointed. She bases the story off of a compilation of tales in the Arthurian legends about the three Gwenhwyfars and chooses the third as her subject. We follow the life of the wee warrior girl and her progress into adulthood ...more
MeriBeth
Jun 02, 2014 MeriBeth rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Die-Hard Lackey Fans Only
Shelves: fiction, fantasy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Catherine Thompson
You know the story: Guinevere, Arthur, Lancelot. Except... maybe not. In Mercedes Lackey's take on the Guinevere story, she gives readers a different sort of Guinevere: a Gwenhwyfar.

Gwenhwyfar is the third daughter of King Lleudd and Queen Eleri of Pwyll. Her mother is skilled in the magics of the Old Ways, trained by the Ladies of the Cauldron Well. Gwenhwyfar is Powerful too, but her Power lies in a different direction. Unlike her eldest sister Cataruna, who goes to the Ladies herself to be tr
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Brooke
Oct 12, 2014 Brooke rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2014
Also posted: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Bookwo...

Gwenhwyfar is the third daughter of a small king under King Arthur, the High King. Much younger than her two older sisters and plagued by the vengeance and mean spirit of her younger, Gwen spends a good amount of time in her childhood alone. Her mother, a queen and Wise Woman has high hopes for Gwen's magical abilities as the hand of the Goddess is clearly upon her. However, Gwen has dreams of being a warrior and can't imagine a better life th
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Rebecca
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Megan
Unusually realistic and restrained for Lackey, this is fairly engaging story of a woman-warrior in pre-medieval Britain, but lackluster as take on the Arthurian mythos. Arthur is barely in the first three-fourths of the story, and the book is better for it. I think this would have been a more effective story if Gwenhyfar had not been THE Gwenhyfar, if the Arthur story could have remained at a distance. As soon as Gwen starts to get molded into her traditional Arthurian role--being queen, the rom ...more
Wayland Smith
I rarely give five stars. Also while I enjoy Arthurian books, I frequently end up getting annoyed at Arthur and actively disliking Guenivere (in all the myriad spellings of her name). This book changed both of those.

This is Gwen as warrior, king's daughter, and worshipper of Celtic gods and goddesses. There is fighting, action, magic, and some very believable characters with depth and range. I loved this book. I think the casual power of the Seliie, elves, whatever you want to call them was hand
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Ellen Aiken
I thought this was an excellent interpretation of the Arthur tale and I thoroughly enjoyed the weaving of Welsh mythology throughout the novel. To be honest, it has inspired me to go and find other books on the topic. I have read in other reviews that there is something of a Mary Sue-ish nature to Lackey's books, which I can understand due to the almost exultation of the protagonist but I found that the character made up for this by the use of wit and hard work which I felt helped to eplain at l ...more
Derek
Great twist on the original! I like how she fit in aspects of the classic stories to this rendition.
Geri Hoekzema
Of all the novels I've read based on Arthurian material, I most liked Lackey's portrayal of Guinevere. In this book she's neither a wimpy whiner (Mists of Avalon, which I otherwise loved), mostly part of the scenery (Mary Stewart's trilogy, the best series overall) or a sympathetic but often powerless wife (Gillian Bradshaw's novels). Lackey presents her as a warrior-in-training who isn't so sure she wants to be married off. It's probably not the best novel for historical purists but if you pref ...more
Heidi Stewart
The synopsis of this book is extremely misleading. You'd think the Gwen in the novel is the Guinevere who becomes Arthur's wife, but she's not. In fact, the novel opens just before Arthur's wedding. The protagonist of the novel is a girl who shares Guinevere's name and who lives on the very outskirts of Arthur's kingdom. In fact, she mentions they are so far on the outskirts that anything Arthur does would barely cause a ripple for her and her family.

The book is interesting to a certain extent.
...more
Brittany
As one can tell by the title, this is an Arthurian spin that uses the Gaelic-Briton spelling of the characters, and oddly enough doesn't actually become an Arthurian tale, per se, until late in the book. Rather, unbeknownst to the (even seasoned reader of Arthurian fiction) reader until a critical point, this isn't a tale of Queen Guinevere/Gwenhwyfar, Wife of Arthur and Paramour of Lancelot, but rather a tale of Gwen the young warrior and her sisters Gwenhwyfach, Cataruna and Gynath--and Arthur ...more
George Straatman
Gwenhywfar is the second Mercedes Lackey novel I’ve read and like the first it is a competently rendered piece of story telling. This novel is a tale of Arthur’s queen and is a fair deviation from the traditional tale. Gwen is a warrior who becomes feared by the Saxons who dub her the white spirit long before she ever meets the legendary king. The tale coincides with the standard legend as Arthur battles Medraut at Camlann where he kills his traitorous son, but suffers a mortal blow in the proce ...more
Shomeret
There are three types of Arthurian novels that I have encountered. There are the Christian grail books which have to take an unusual approach to interest me. There are the de-mythologizing novels that explain away the magical elements of the myth in realistic terms. These can be well-written, but they aren't the type of Arthurian fiction that I prefer. Among them are books that focus on Arthur as a military leader and are mainly composed of battle scenes. Lastly, there are the Arthurian fantasie ...more
J. Else
The language of the book is a little hard to get into at first with expressions and words that are unfamiliar. Plus, lackey's use of commas is really grammatically annoying and a distraction!!! But enough with the English gripes. There are also characters named Gwenhwyfar (times three), Gwenhwyfach (aka Little Gwen), and Gynath. Very similar unusual names makes things confusing for a while as well as you muddle through the new language. The store then moves along like "Harper Hall of Pern" but w ...more
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  • Guinevere (Guinevere, #1)
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  • The Road to Avalon (Dark Ages of Britain, #1)
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  • The Kingmaking (Pendragon's Banner Trilogy, #1)
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  • Merlin's Harp (Merlin's Harp, #1)
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  • Sons of Avalon: Merlin's Prophecy
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Mercedes entered this world on June 24, 1950, in Chicago, had a normal childhood and graduated from Purdue University in 1972. During the late 70's she worked as an artist's model and then went into the computer programming field, ending up with American Airlines in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In addition to her fantasy writing, she has written lyrics for and recorded nearly fifty songs for Firebird Arts & ...more
More about Mercedes Lackey...
Arrows of the Queen (Heralds of Valdemar, #1) Magic's Pawn (Valdemar: Last Herald-Mage #1) By the Sword (Valdemar: Kerowyn's Tale, #1) Magic's Price (Valdemar: Last Herald-Mage #3) Magic's Promise (Valdemar: Last Herald-Mage #2)

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