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Gwenhwyfar: The White Spirit (a Novel of King Arthur)

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3.74  ·  Rating Details ·  3,170 Ratings  ·  259 Reviews
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 that she is born into.

Yet the daughter of a king is never truly free to follow her own calling. Acti
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Published November 2nd 2009 by Tantor Media (first published September 29th 2009)
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Wealhtheow
Oct 21, 2009 Wealhtheow rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 04, 2010 Linda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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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Christina
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.
Ksenia
Sep 02, 2010 Ksenia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Bookworm
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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Francine
Jun 11, 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
Rebecca
Jun 19, 2017 Rebecca rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I had been interested in reading this book for a few years as I have an interest in Arthurian retellings but hadn't really read any yet. Needless to say, I didn't particularly enjoy this book. It was ok but it just wasn't really my type of book to be honest. I can't quite put my finger on what exactly I didn't like about this book but I think as a whole I just didn't find any part of this book to be interesting.
Joana
Jan 12, 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
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Kara
Nov 15, 2011 Kara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: king-arthur
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kathy Davie
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
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Cindi
Mar 10, 2010 Cindi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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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SarahC
Nov 12, 2009 SarahC rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Steven Cole
Jun 08, 2010 Steven Cole rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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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Miranda
Apr 27, 2010 Miranda rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Colleen
Jan 11, 2010 Colleen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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R.
Oct 08, 2009 R. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Derek
Oct 15, 2010 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.
Jennifer
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.
Laura
Dec 21, 2016 Laura rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Karen
Mar 25, 2017 Karen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Very good.....
Nicole
I really enjoyed this re-telling of the story, especially that it came in threes.
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
Misty
Mar 22, 2017 Misty rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyed this view point of the Arthur legend.
Nadine Sutton
Oct 07, 2016 Nadine Sutton rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Selena
Mar 19, 2017 Selena rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this fantastical rendition of King Authur's court. Beautifully written.
MeriBeth
Jun 02, 2014 MeriBeth rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Mieneke
Jan 01, 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
Lee
This felt like two stories stuck together. The first one is of the growth of the young woman into a scout-warchief-retainer to her family, allied to Arthur. The second one was of her square-peg-round-hole marriage to Arthur, which quickly turned into an escape tale. Each story worked pretty well on their own, but the glue holding them together seemed weak, even to the character. I suppose life does work like that sometimes, but it still felt inexplicable.
Lisa Williamson
Jul 08, 2015 Lisa Williamson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gwenhwyfar by Mercedes Lackey One of the most popular stories of all time is the tale of Arthur and the Knights of the Round table. Over the years I have read many different versions from the classic POV of Arthur or Merlin to the classic Mists of Avalon.
 
Like MZB before her, Ms Lackey has taken up the story from the woman's POV. In this version she has dropped us into the world as it might really have been at the time. While history has not yet found the real Arthur this novel does quite well.
 
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Brekke
Aug 02, 2014 Brekke rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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 Gearhart
Oct 05, 2014 Brooke Gearhart rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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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Maren
Oct 19, 2016 Maren rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Vanessa Montês
Jul 04, 2015 Vanessa Montês rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: emprestaram-me
(...)

Este livro centra-se na suposta segunda Gwenhwyfar, a que se apaixonara por Lancelote. Uma mulher de armas que apenas queria viver a sua vida e que encontrara em Lancelote alguém que a admirava e que partilhava os mesmos interesses. Sendo a história narrada por Gwenhwyfar, acabamos por a conhecer profundamente e como ninguém, apaixonamos-nos pela sua história e perseverança e tememos pela sua vida quando a sua irmã mais nova descobre a magia.

Foi um livro que gostei de ler, muitíssimo difere
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Megan
Jun 27, 2014 Megan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
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
Lillian Madson
Nov 22, 2016 Lillian Madson rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Wayland Smith
Jan 02, 2014 Wayland Smith rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: avx
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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Gracy
Jul 06, 2015 Gracy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lackey says in the afterword that fantasy authors just can't resist the allure of Arthurian lore - she succumbed to the draw and did an excellent job. The main character is likeable in her authenticity and honest narrator style, the plot is well spaced with jumps ahead when necessary. Best, the book is feminist in the extreme - the heroine promises herself never to have a baby for a man's sake, she abandons domestic life to become a warrior - and the ending is non-traditional for this type of st ...more
Eli
Jan 26, 2016 Eli rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed that there was a lot here I was already familiar with but that the classic King Arthur/Guinevere/Lancelot story was still different. The familiarity was nice, but I also really liked that it was told from Gwen’s perspective and was unique in her not being such a girly princess as I’ve always seen her portrayed before. She was a warrior and I really respect that!

And once again, this author turns it around and I go from feeling ‘meh’ about the book to ‘holy cripes, this was awesome!’ by
...more
Ellen Aiken
Jul 05, 2014 Ellen Aiken rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: for-lending
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
Dana
Aug 17, 2016 Dana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Even though Mercedes Lackey has written wonderfully light fantasy books that is not the case with this one. She tackled a triad saga of the 3 Gwenhwyfar's. This is an inventive and completely satisfying tale. I have to admit that I was intrigued by a strong Gwenhwyfar instead of the empty-headed, self-centered figure that she is usually portrayed as. This is a long book and worth riding the ebb and flow of the events as it spans the youngest Gwenhwyfar's life. Wonderful details of this time peri ...more
Geri Hoekzema
Nov 24, 2014 Geri Hoekzema rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Laurel Flynn
Feb 13, 2015 Laurel Flynn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: drama
Mercedes Lackey is best known for her various fantasy series: the Bardic/Fiddler series and, of course, Valdemar, full of those white-almost horses that bond with you....(yes, there's white leather in my closet, too...). She has collaborated with many other famous authors, among them Andre Norton, C.J. Cherryh, Marion Zimmer Bradley and Anne McCaffrey. Lackey's books are mostly fairly good, tell an engaging story, have a positive clear message and are edited well. I am fond of the Valdemar books ...more
Heidi Stewart
Sep 24, 2014 Heidi Stewart rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 08, 2013 Brittany rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 02, 2011 George Straatman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 03, 2011 Shomeret rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Colleen
Jan 09, 2012 Colleen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I'm not an Arthurian scholar, or even much of a fan. I think the Mary Stewart trilogy, The Sword and the Stone, Camelot, and The Once and Future King are about it for my knowledge of the topic. But I do enjoy a good Lackey story about 4 times in 5, so thought to give this one a try.

In this version of the Arthur legend, there were three queens of the same name. Our heroine is the third of those queens. Gwen is a warrior's daughter who chooses to become a warrior herself. The book spends most of i
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Jess
Apr 18, 2012 Jess rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: heroine-pov, fantasy
Let me preface this with the fact that I have not read a book in MONTHS. In fact, the last time was in October of last year.
Not entirely my fault. My life has been rife with studying and shenanigans as of late. But just two days ago I chanced upon the opportunity to go to the library and took it. I immediately homed in on the fiction novels, and steadily made my way immediately to Lackey, her having always been one of my favorite authors.
I was happy they had two full shelves of her works. And th
...more
Lynda Tatad
Jul 10, 2011 Lynda Tatad rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I finally got a chance to rea Mercedes Lackey's "Gwenhyfar", and was very surprised to find out that it was a young girl with the same name as King Arthur's wife. So, when I thought I was reading an Arthurian tale told from the point of view of the younf Queen - it turned out I thought I was wrong, but then I was right! ****************spoliers***************************** In the author's note afterward, the author's research pointed her in the direction of possibly 3 Guinevere's in Arthur's lif ...more
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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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