This book is a true defense of Queen Guinevere. Despite being one of the most important figures in Arthurian literature, she has always been dismissedThis book is a true defense of Queen Guinevere. Despite being one of the most important figures in Arthurian literature, she has always been dismissed as a mere spoiled adulteress and pushed to the wayside in the unfolding tragedy, overshadowed by King Arthur, Merlin, Sir Lancelot and the other Knights of the Round Table, the treacherous Mordred, and the magical Morgan le Fay.
Andrea Hopkins has created an anthology showing Guinevere's complexity of character. With excerpts from the most authoritative medieval sources as well as Tennyson's Victorian epic, accompanied by a plethora of manuscript illuminations and Pre-Raphaelite paintings, a completely different picture of Guinevere emerges. Her legendary love affair is not downplayed; however, the other previously ignored aspects of her life brought to light in this volume reveal a richly textured woman who is a far cry from the one dimensional paper doll usually placed by King Arthur's side and in Sir Lancelot's bed.
THE BOOK OF GUINEVERE is divided into eight main parts each focused on a different facet of her life. These are Guinevere the Young Queen and Bride, Guinevere the Victim of Abduction, Guinevere the Courtly and Gracious Queen, Guinevere the Lover, Guinevere Falsely Accused, Guinevere the Jealous Harpy, Guinevere Noble in Adversity, and, of course, the Fall of Guinevere. There is a very good introduction, and an index, a short glossary, and a bibliography for further reading are included. This book is well bound -- sewn instead of glued -- and lavishly illustrated.
It is a delightful light read on a heavy subject, and I recommend it to anyone interested in Arthurian lore particularly its female characters. The only reason I gave it four rather than five stars is because this book is not as meaty as the author's other works, and I feel there is more she could have said....more
This book is a wonderful resource for both those who are new to the myths of King Arthur and those who are already students of Arthurian lore. I wishThis book is a wonderful resource for both those who are new to the myths of King Arthur and those who are already students of Arthurian lore. I wish I had known about Chronicles of King Arthur when I was struggling through the original Middle English version of Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur, Vol. 2. Andrea Hopkins has a scholar's pedigree but writes without the usual scholarly dryness. Gathered from the definitive medieval sources, she presents a cohesive and easy-to-follow retelling of the basic Arthurian legends. Her prose smoothly incorporates the work of several different authors into the individual tales, and the stories are told in refreshingly simple manner that still exudes a sense of wonder while providing the reader with a clear understanding of the events.
The chronicles themselves are divided into three parts: the birth of King Arthur and his rise to power, the golden age of his reign, and his decline and death. The numerous smaller episodes of Arthur and his knights within the cycle are then further separated into helpfully titled mini-chapters. The text is punctuated with a large number of beautiful illustrations taken from illuminated manuscripts, paintings, and earlier printed books, and the sidebars provide insights into various aspects of the stories as well as relevant historical facts. There is also a short list of the principal characters at the end of the book. The binding is excellent -- sewn rather than glued, which is rare nowadays -- and should hold up well. My only complaint is the lack of an index. An index would have made this book more valuable as a reference source. But it is still highly recommended in spite of this....more