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Gwenhwyfar: The White Spirit

3.74  ·  Rating Details ·  3,062 Ratings  ·  250 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
Hardcover, 404 pages
Published October 6th 2009 by DAW (first published September 29th 2009)
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Sep 28, 2010 Wealhtheow rated it liked it
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
Dec 04, 2010 Linda rated it it was amazing
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
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
I really enjoyed this book. I know a lot of people complained about it because Mercedes Lackey used the Welsh version of the Arthurian legend, but it was one that I had never encountered before, so it was new to me. And the heroine she chose is strong and inspiring and is constantly having to make hard choices. My only real complaint is I wish she had pulled back on the descriptions of some things and expounded on others.
Sep 02, 2010 Ksenia rated it really liked it
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
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
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
Jul 24, 2011 Francine rated it liked it  ·  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
Jan 16, 2013 Joana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 18, 2011 Kara rated it it was amazing
Shelves: king-arthur
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jon Abbott
Nice take on the King Arthur tales. Its focus is on one of the women in his orbit, Gwenhwyfar. Set in the age when Druids are losing the battle with Catholic priests, but have not yet vanished. Not content with her destiny as the daughter of a tribal/ clan king, Gwenhwyfer manages to begin training as a warrior. Adventures follow. Told with all of Ms. Lackey's considerable talent for storytelling.

I listened to the audio version of the novel.
Kathy Davie
Apr 25, 2016 Kathy Davie rated it really liked it
A standalone historical fiction tale of King Arthur's queen, Guinevere.

My Take
Another variation on King Arthur and his knights. This time from the third Guinevere's perspective. Yes, third. Lackey has a theory that with all the tales of Arthur's wife having no children, one child, two children that quite possibly he had three wives, each named Gwenhwyfar.

For the most part, it follows the Arthurian legend with different details. An interesting tale which truly is good for those imaginative detail
Apr 21, 2010 Cindi rated it really liked it
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
Jan 31, 2011 SarahC rated it did not like it
Shelves: arthurian
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
Steven Cole
Jun 11, 2010 Steven Cole rated it really liked it
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
Nov 27, 2011 Miranda rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed
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
Jul 17, 2015 Colleen rated it liked it
Shelves: spec-fic
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
Oct 08, 2009 R. rated it liked it
Shelves: young-adult
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 28, 2011 Derek rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great twist on the original! I like how she fit in aspects of the classic stories to this rendition.
Feb 22, 2011 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lillian Madson
Dec 06, 2016 Lillian Madson rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
What a lonely story. This story followed one of 3 Gwenhwyfars of Arthurian legend. The beginning of the book was typical of Mercedes Lackey, a warrior training montage but this one lacked passion or interest. One of the biggest missing elements in this story was any supporting characters. She had no friends. In fact the middle of the book spent a very long time driving home how lonely she was. There was no real triumphs for the main character in this book. And the love interest didn't stick. It ...more
Oct 19, 2016 Maren rated it really liked it
As I was a rather big Mercedes Lackey fan in my youth - and, even now, still dust off my battered and well-loved copy of By The Sword every few years - this book had actually been on my 'too read' list pretty much since it came out.
It took the better part of a decade, but the story is not the least bit lacking for the delay. I can say with utter sincerity that I quite loved everything about this book except the ending - and, if I am honest with myself, I still loved the ending, but with bitters
Dec 21, 2016 Laura rated it liked it
The only version of the old Arthurian legend that doesn't make me scream "NO! Stop! Guinevere and Lancelot you two are ruining all of England for everybody!"
Mostly it's a setting-rich story of a girl who loves swords and horses while keeping the old ways.
Laura Martinelli
Whenever I decide to go through the box of books we’re getting rid of at work, I tend to pick up certain titles on two main criteria: 1. The cover copy sounds interesting or 2. Hey, I really need to read author/book because reasons. I’ve always heard great things about Mercedes Lackey; if I was a fantasy fan, I really ought to be reading her. And after reading this, I will say that I am interested in checking out some of her other works (particularly the Elementals series, because I am a sucker ...more
Nadine Sutton
Oct 09, 2016 Nadine Sutton rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 02, 2014 MeriBeth rated it did not like it
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.
Jun 06, 2011 Mieneke rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, 2011
When I found out Mercedes Lackey had a book out on the legendary Queen Guinevere, I was interested to see Lackey's take on the Arthurian saga. Having had a period in my teens where I devoured Arthurian retellings and having taken a class on the literary Arthur at university, I have a weak spot for Arthuriana and to combine that with a book by one of my favourite authors seemed a guaranteed case of win. And it was a lovely read indeed. I like the angle she took. It is a very different approach fr ...more
J. Else
Jul 15, 2010 J. Else rated it liked it
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
Dec 07, 2011 Shomeret rated it really liked it
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
Sep 26, 2016 Sarah rated it really liked it
I actually really enjoyed this. I usually start reading a book with 0 expectations, so I can't say it was a disappointment but it wasn't a mindblower either.

In any case, I thought the lore was very fascinating. The characters were interesting enough, though Little Gwen seemed to be that irritant addition that has little backstory or feeling other than to be a thorn in the side. Blah.

Overall I enjoyed it. I was surprised when I finished this in just a couple of days as opposed to the weeks I exp
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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 &am ...more
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