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

3.73  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,872 Ratings  ·  235 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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Sep 28, 2010 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
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
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.
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
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
Apr 21, 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
Nov 18, 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
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
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
Jan 31, 2011 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
Steven Cole
Jun 11, 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
Jul 17, 2015 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
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.
Nov 27, 2011 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
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.

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
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.
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
Brooke Gearhart
Oct 12, 2014 Brooke Gearhart rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
Also posted:

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
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.
Vanessa Montês
Jul 05, 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
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
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
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
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
Ellen Aiken
Jul 07, 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
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.
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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 &a ...more
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