Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Isolde, Queen of the Western Isle (Tristan and Isolde, #1)” as Want to Read:
Isolde, Queen of the Western Isle (Tristan and Isolde, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Isolde, Queen of the Western Isle

(Tristan and Isolde #1)

3.65  ·  Rating details ·  2,277 ratings  ·  154 reviews
In the golden time of Arthur and Guenevere, the Island of the West shines like an emerald in the sea—one of the last strongholds of Goddess-worship and Mother-right. Isolde is the only daughter and heiress of Ireland’s great ruling queen, a lady as passionate in battle as she is in love. La Belle Isolde, like her mother, is famed for her beauty, but she is a healer instead ...more
Paperback, 360 pages
Published June 24th 2003 by Broadway Books (first published July 9th 2002)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Isolde, Queen of the Western Isle, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Isolde, Queen of the Western Isle

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Rating details
Sort: Default
Shala Howell
Aug 27, 2012 rated it did not like it
Childish emotions--too overwrought and changeable. Imagery obvious. Writing veers from painfully bad to barely serviceable. Characters appear to have the emotional capacity of twelve-year-olds. I can't really comment on the story, because I was too busy groaning at the writing to notice if the plot was progressing the way the story of Tristan and Isolde should.

A smattering of quotes:

p. 32 "The noonday sun shone on his silver helmet and the gold torque of knighthood round his neck. Across his b
Jul 19, 2007 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
Tristan and Isolde in this novel seem more like selfish children than star-crossed lovers. They bring most of their troubles upon themselves through pouting and poor decision making.

I also couldn't help wondering why it took a love potion to unite these two lovers who were supposedly destined for each other.
Nov 20, 2011 rated it did not like it
I have this trilogy for reference only. I've read Rosalind Miles' Guenevere trilogy, and it's... terrible. Quickly reading this and the other two books of the trilogy, I can see that it suffers all the same pitfalls. I don't understand Miles' reputation as an academic, though I suppose being an academic doesn't bar you from writing purple prose in your fiction.

Anyway, if you know anything about Rosalind Miles you know what to expect from this: purple prose and syrupy sex and of course, a guise o
Feb 22, 2008 rated it liked it
A good book to escape into on a winter's day. The description is beautiful, and the women are strong-willed and full of heart. However, I could have done without some of the "astral plane" talk. Also, Isolde's constant doubt toward Tristan wore on me, and they behaved throughout in a way that I couldn't understand (why mistrust and doubt each other instead of just *talking* to each other?) Overall it was enjoyable, but there were some stiff spots regarding character interrelations that I just co ...more
Jun 13, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Isolde: Queen of the Western Isle is a really good retelling of the Tristan + Iseult myth. It was also a good start to a series about the star-crossed lovers Tristan and Isolde. I would recommend it for fans of historical fiction and fantasy with a good romance. I would also recommend it for fans of the movie Tristan and Isolde, with James Franco and Sophia Myles.
Sue Smith

The story is, of course, well known and I had great expectations. I mean - look at that cover!! (I know, I know. You'd think I'd learn by now that the cover means n.o.t.h.i.n.g. ......... but still ..... look at it. It's awesome!).

*sigh*...... the story certainly has a lot to live up too and it was good to be immersed in such old old folklore, but the writing....... alas...... the writing. It just - hmm - it just lacked the magic and intensity and the depth that this story is. Plus, that bei
Aug 05, 2017 rated it did not like it
Sardonic. End point.
Aug 04, 2012 rated it it was ok
Um...I guess it was okay. I mean, if every time something of any consequence happens, good or bad, the proclamations to "Goddess, Mother" is something you enjoy, then yeah. It was okay.

Aside from the inept writing and the droning on and on of similies, metaphors, and using "Otherworldly" to describe just about EVERYTHING, it was remedial at best. The characters were droll; very 2 dimentional. I found Isolde too whiny much of the time. Tristan was no one that I would lust after or just need to k
Feb 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
This story takes place in the time of Arthur and Gwenevere and so reads like a fairytale. Ireland was one of the last places where Goddess-worship and Mother-right disappeared or at least diminished because of Christianity emerging. Rosalind Miles takes these two ideas to their extreme and that is why the book is a light and 'airy-fairy' read. But the age-old story of a princess and her knight is always captivating and this story definitely is. Isolde, the Queen of Ireland's daughter and a renow ...more
Nov 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
4.5 ****.* stars Hmm how can I put into words what I felt when I was reading this tale. I have done a lot of reading on Tristan and Isolde, but this is the first time that Isolde came to life for me. She took over my life for a few days. As I would quote the Boyfriend "You are back to that book again?? Why don't you watch some tv with me?" lol yes that's how good it was that I was ignoring the BF. :) It had everything a tale of this magnitude should have and more. Why didn't I give it the full f ...more
Kelly Weisner
Mar 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing
LOVE THEM!!!! Couldn’t stop reading. After reading the first one I couldn’t wait to pick the 2nd one up at the library I just went out and bought it instead, then two days later I bought the third book!!!! Here is the skinny: before there was Romeo and Juliet, there was Tristan and Isolde; ancient Celtic/Arthurian legend of star crossed lovers. There so many versions of the story but this one I find most inspiring. Told from a feminist perspective it gives power and a life to Isolde’s character ...more
Feb 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: those interested in British legends.
Totally enjoyed Isolde, Queen of the Western Isle by Rosalinde Miles. This is the first installment of this trilogy of Tristan and Isolde. As I love England, I truly 'get into' books that take me back to England which this book surely does. Cornwall, Tintagel, Avalon (Glastonbury in Somerset), Wales, Camelot (Cadbury in Somerset), Lyonesse (a kingdom attached to the southeast corner of Cornwall extending further south & east which eventually sunk), and London (which is my favorite city of al ...more
Jun 07, 2010 rated it it was ok
I read this book on the heels of a 900+ page novel written in 18th century England. After reading such a piece of British literature, I found the writing in this book too simple and too easy to read with no challenge. I felt the language too modern and mismatched to the time period of the story. The story and characters were not well developed and "Goddess, Mother" was greatly overused. I love historical fiction but was disappointed with this book. I do not plan to continue with more books of th ...more
Oct 05, 2011 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: no one
Shelves: unfinished
"Any rider coming from Ireland had to pass this way." made me raise my eyebrow.

Merlin musing on his lifetimes (plural, of course) of waiting, then saying that he had "long awaited" the coming spring made me frown.

Calling "the first day of spring," by which I can only assume she means the Vernal Equinox, a "short day" made me mutter under my breath.

The sea-bird looking at Merlin "with an angry, tender eye" and saying (without words, of course) "D'you hear, Merlin?" made me put the book down.

Mar 28, 2007 rated it really liked it
Favorite Quotes

To face a man in combat is challenge enough. To find the goddess in a woman is the life work of a man. Hard though the first may be, the second is the harder longer road. But every man seeks the woman of the dream, and only the best of men finds what he seeks.

True lovers may never know what love means. A man may love a woman out of his reach. She does not know he loves her, and he will never speak of it.
May 17, 2009 rated it did not like it
One of the few books I've ever been unable to finish...
As I reached the misunderstanding I just couldn't look at the book anymore, it reminded me of a bad sitcom.
Maybe I'll try reading it again someday, not not anytime some.
Elizabeth(The Book Whisperer)
I loved this book, the begining of a trilogy. I adore stories based in this time period, and this one did not dissapoint me.
Sep 25, 2018 rated it it was ok
It wasn't awful. But I did dislike a lot of things about it: the purple prose, the equating of good with beautiful, the meandering plot and numerous side-plots. I could have liked the Christians vs. Goddess-worshipers, but the depiction of the Goddess people was so unrealistic, so much more an overly-idealized New Age kind of version of what a goddess religion might be like. There was no subtlety to it -- characters either believe that every woman is a goddess and a queen (real quote, or close t ...more
Apr 02, 2018 rated it liked it
I didn't dislike this book, I just found myself feeling forced to finish it. Tristan and Isolde has always fascinated me and I was excited to read this retelling. However, I think that I would have preferred to just stick to the Morte d'Arthur version because at least it was a historical rendition. This is a very "true to style" retelling- it reads like a drawn out version of the original. The writing was beautifully done, but it just felt like an extra long original. It's about 320 pages but th ...more
Rachael C
Dec 05, 2016 rated it it was ok
I actually did not finish this book. It didn't entice me or draw me in, and I found myself having to force myself to read the pages I did. The biggest chunk of my reading came during a short flight, and even with such focus, it still offered little in the way of compelling page turning. I have too many books on my shelf waiting to be read than to waste my time on one that just doesn't resonate with me.
Mar 28, 2018 rated it liked it
I had forgotten how depressing the tale of Tristan & Isolde is when I started this book. I appreciate the author's attempt to make it less so, but I still wasn't a huge fan of this book. There was an overabundance of description, and I can't say I liked any of the characters except Brangwain, Isolde's maid. I'm not going to read the other books in the trilogy.
Christopher Dubey
Aug 10, 2017 rated it it was ok
I read about the first 40 pages. Miles clearly put a lot of time into the writing, with some beautiful scenery, colors, and obscure medieval details. However, a lot of the characters are so juvenile that it reads more like Monty Python or The Princess Bride than an epic love story. I didn't want to commit to it.
Jan Norton
Oct 27, 2018 rated it it was ok
Almost stopped reading but decided to continue. It did get some better. I never connected with characters nor did I care what happened to them. The family tree and map in the beginning was helpful.
Janet Mahlum
Apr 03, 2018 rated it liked it
I watched the movie, Tristan and Isolde. It had been so long since I had read any of the legends, I wanted to compare stories. This book was good, again a different twist on a familiar legend. The library doesn't have any others in this series, but I don't feel the need to read them.
Aug 07, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
It took an awful lot to get into the story, and I almost gave up a few times. Glad I stuck with it, it was good - it picked up steam as I went.
Rick Jordan
Sep 20, 2018 rated it liked it
The paganism is very interesting. The protagonists’ emotional flip-flops were irritating.

But I do plan to read the next one.
Amber Ly
Jan 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book so much. I loved the romance between Tristan and Isolde and this book put me through quite a few emotions.
Jul 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
great book of Isolde and Tristan
Kimberly F.
Jul 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Sharon H
May 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
In the days of Irish Queens and English Kings. As in Isolde and Tristan, and King Arthur and Guinevere of Camelot.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Romance, Historic...: Arthurian Time Period 4 22 Aug 01, 2013 05:42PM  
Cafe Libri: August 2013: Isolde, Queen of the Western Isle by Rosalind Miles 2 5 Jul 31, 2013 08:10PM  
  • Twilight of Avalon (Twilight of Avalon, #1)
  • Guinevere (Guinevere, #1)
  • Prince of Dreams: A Tale of Tristan and Esyllte
  • The Road to Avalon (Dark Ages of Britain, #1)
  • Queen of the Summer Stars (Guinevere, #2)
  • In Camelot's Shadow (The Paths to Camelot, #1)
  • The White Raven
  • Sons of Avalon: Merlin's Prophecy
  • The Idylls of the Queen: A Tale of Queen Guenevere
  • The Mammoth Book of King Arthur
  • The Circle Cast: The Lost Years of Morgan Le Fay
  • King Arthur
  • Damosel: In Which the Lady of the Lake Renders a Frank and Often Startling Account of her Wondrous Life and Times
  • The Coming of the King (Books of Merlin, #1)
Rosalind Miles is an author born and raised in England and now living in both Los Angeles and Kent, England. She has written both works of fiction and non-fiction. As a child, Miles suffered from polio, and had to undergo several months of treatment. After being accepted to a junior women's college, Miles acquired a working knowledge of Latin and Greek, along with developing her life-long love of ...more

Other books in the series

Tristan and Isolde (3 books)
  • The Maid of the White Hands (Tristan and Isolde, #2)
  • The Lady of the Sea (Tristan and Isolde, #3)
“True lovers may never know what love means. A man may love a woman out of his reach. She does not know he loves her, and he will never speak of it.” 129 likes
“To face a man in combat is challenge enough. To find the goddess in a woman is the life work of a man. Hard though the first may be, the second is the harder longer road. But every man seeks the woman of the dream, and only the best of men finds what he seeks.” 60 likes
More quotes…