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Camelot Rising #1

The Guinevere Deception

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A new fantasy series set in the world of Camelot that bestselling author Christina Lauren calls brilliant, reimagining the Arthurian legend . . . where nothing is as magical and terrifying as a girl.

Princess Guinevere has come to Camelot to wed a stranger: the charismatic King Arthur. With magic clawing at the kingdom's borders, the great wizard Merlin conjured a solution--send in Guinevere to be Arthur's wife . . . and his protector from those who want to see the young king's idyllic city fail. The catch? Guinevere's real name--and her true identity--is a secret. She is a changeling, a girl who has given up everything to protect Camelot.

To keep Arthur safe, Guinevere must navigate a court in which the old--including Arthur's own family--demand things continue as they have been, and the new--those drawn by the dream of Camelot--fight for a better way to live. And always, in the green hearts of forests and the black depths of lakes, magic lies in wait to reclaim the land.

Deadly jousts, duplicitous knights, and forbidden romances are nothing compared to the greatest threat of all: the girl with the long black hair, riding on horseback through the dark woods toward Arthur. Because when your whole existence is a lie, how can you trust even yourself? *THE FIRST BOOK IN THE CAMELOT RISING TRILOGY*

352 pages, Library Binding

First published November 5, 2019

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About the author

Kiersten White

59 books12.8k followers
Kiersten White is the #1 New York Times bestselling, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of many books, including the And I Darken series, The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein, Star Wars: Padawan, the Sinister Summer series, and HIDE. She lives with her family near the ocean in San Diego, where they obsessively care for their deeply ambivalent tortoise. Visit Kiersten online at KierstenWhite.com and follow @KierstenWhite on Twitter.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 4,134 reviews
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,992 reviews298k followers
October 28, 2019
That was not a finite or controlled magic. It was a wild and dark and dangerous magic. It was a violent magic, undoing the record of a life and giving it to someone else.

A couple of earlier books aside, Kiersten White is a fave of mine. I enjoyed her historical fiction that reimagined Vlad the Impaler as a woman - And I Darken; I enjoyed her Frankenstein retelling - The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein; and, against all odds, I enjoyed her Buffy spin-off - Slayer. So I'm surprised that this one didn't work for me. I love Arthurian mythology and White's feminist spins on old tales, so what could go wrong?

Firstly, I think this book kept us in the dark for way too long. So long that it became not interesting for me. All we know is that Guinevere is not the real Guinevere but a changeling witch, sent by Merlin to protect King Arthur. We spend so long not really knowing where the story is going, though. Guinevere's goal of protecting Arthur feels open-ended and not tied to any real conflict. This means that she spends a lot of time wandering around, chatting with familiar characters like Mordred and Brangien, and not doing much of anything.

Even when a touch of drama appears, she is hurried off to safety. If the growing romance was supposed to be the main point of tension, I didn't really get a sense of that. Arthur was so bland and forgettable (though arguably all the characters were).

I also did not feel like this story was taking place in the 5th-6th centuries. There was very little to capture the feeling of the time and place, which is the exact opposite of what I would say about the author's And I Darken trilogy. I guess I also just don't believe that feminism is rewriting history to pretend sexism didn't exist, which it felt like this did. The way women are treated felt untrue to the times.

And it is so jarring when Guinevere, who is supposed to be a 5th century "lady", says “I doubt a bowl of piss will be one of the weapon offerings at the tournament”. Not to mention the fact that this word dates to the 14th century (yes I checked cos it sounded weird), a good 800-900 years too late for the Arthurian legend.

There are a couple of twists that of course I won't give away, but I will say that the first one was so obvious. I guessed it as soon as the

The ending is easily the most dynamic and dramatic part of the book. Lots happens in a short space of time, setting this up for a sequel, but I think it was already too late for me by then. I am always surprised when readers encourage me to read through 400 pages of slog to get to 50 good pages, as if that makes it all worth it. To me, if a book is only 10% good, then it isn't. And I find that especially true of YA fantasy. Perhaps more patient readers will have better luck with this.

Still a big Kiersten White fan, but I think I'll skip the sequels to this and wait for Chosen instead.

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Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,306 reviews44k followers
July 11, 2022
No! No! No! And for the last time screaming till my throat rips apart: “NOOOOO!!!THIS IS NOT THE RETELLING I’VE DREAMT OF”

I’m die-hard fan of Kiersten White’s retellings. I truly enjoyed “Conqueror saga” (especially third book: Bright We Burn was magnificent. Any fantasy lover should devour this book at one bite!) So as soon as I heard she wrote a retelling about Guinevere and King Arthur, I started doing handsprings but accidentally hit my feet to coffee table but that’s okay, I’m limping like Kaiser Soze which gave me more threatening and charismatic look. (That’s what my neighbors’ kids thoughts who keep screaming when they see me walking in the street!)

After Guy Ritchie’s worst adaption on big screen, I needed to read something fascinating and I truly believed this gifted author could give me the riveting page-turner I wholeheartedly desired.

I didn’t request an Arc copy because if I got rejection, I couldn’t take it easily. (last time I got rejected for a book I wanted to read sooo sooo much, I burned my kitchen! Not my fault! I tried to cook grilled cheese sandwich. As a result we had a grilled kitchen counter!)

So finally I took the book into my hands and excitedly flipped the pages…But…Something was wrong. Correction! Too many things went wrong!
Silver lining part: If you are patient enough to read more than 300 pages, last part of the book is entertaining, fast pacing, exciting, promising.

But… Nearly 350 pages were slow, meaningless, boring and dull. The facts: Guinevere is not the real Guinevere, she is a witch, assigned from Merlin to protect Arthur. But you gotta walk in the dark corners of the book too long to understand the motives, real purposes of the characters. Guinevere seems like hanging in the palace and talking with the people about last week’s soccer fixture or new trendy places of Soho! ( If the character does all those things, I don’t get surprised because I’m not sure the book takes place at the 5th century!)

All those characters looked like being frozen by a powerful spell. Because nobody takes any action or does something crucial to warn us a big danger threatens the kingdom.
I feel like most of the time I think maybe this book can be named as “Much Ado About Nothing!” (alas! Shakespeare already chose the name before the author and his memorable play was full of action and amazing characters, I wish this book can have them, too.)

So after too much bla bla blaa, zzztttttttt (I took several delicious nap breaks!), glugglugg (don’t forget alcohol breaks!) and easily sensible, foreseeable twist ( I didn’t need my spider senses to find it. The neighborhood kids found the twist before it was coming, too because I read aloud this book in front of their houses to punish them!!!), we may reach the ending. Finally we get our fast pacing, exhilarating writing he waited for the beginning of the book because the author needs to leave a great impression for the sequel.

So? I’m gonna read the sequel. I have doubts but I still love this author’s way of story-telling and last pages of the book showed me there is still hope for this series. I was about to give two stars but I raised to three only for the last parts of the story.

I didn’t like it , I was so close to hate it but I loved last 40 pages. But I have to admit I expected more from the author. I hope the sequel will be more promising, twisty, fast pacing and contain more remarkable characterization.
Profile Image for ✨ Helena ✨.
381 reviews1,006 followers
December 8, 2022
I received this complimentary ARC from the publisher, courtesy of NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.


I was so excited for the release of this book and for the most part...it didn't disappoint. I'm pretty familiar with Arthurian mythology, so I think that if you are, as well, you might be able to predict some of the plot points! But there are also enough original twists in the story to also keep you guessing as you read. However, if you're fairly new to the Arthurian myths, everything is explained, so you don't feel like you're missing out on anything important.

Can I just take a moment to appreciate a Guinevere-centred story for once? Finally, Arthur and Merlin aren't the sole stars of the show! Girl power for the winnnn! ;)


I will admit that the pacing of this book, for the first two-thirds of the novel, is slowwww, and then it's really fast-paced for the last third, which is understandable. It definitely reads like a historical fiction novel as White sets up the backdrop of Camelot, which - due to being part of British folklore - greatly resembles mediaeval Britain. But despite the pacing, I wasn't bored throughout the book. It has knight tournaments, knot magic, enchanted trees, dangerous dragons, wicked faeries, and all sorts of other interesting elements. I especially enjoyed the original magic system using knots. I've never encountered that before. Usually depictions of Merlin's magic in other interpretations of Arthurian mythology tend to utilise elemental magic. I liked seeing Guinevere use something else to protect herself, as well as confronting the threats directed at Arthur and Camelot.

White takes great lengths to demonstrate how young and unsure of herself Guinevere is, with a need to prove herself, and I found her to be an admirable protagonist. Arthur wasn't as developed, in my opinion. He's merely depicted as a caring king who always puts Camelot before his personal feelings and the people he values. Mordred was probably the most compelling character and, as usual, I ended up sympathising with him. (But then, he had to be HIMSELF ugh) I also loved Lancelot and shan't say anything else about the knight because it was a fun surprise. I wish we got to see more of Merlin and the other knights though. Gawain was always my favourite, as well as Percival, but they were only mentioned in passing a few times, unfortunately. I hope that we'll see more of them and Merlin in the future.

This was a really good beginning to a fun trilogy and I can't wait to see what happens next. It's a tad slower than Illusions of Fate and Slayer, but it's still very enjoyable nonetheless. I highly recommend it for anyone who wants to experience the wonder and magic of Camelot.
Profile Image for megs_bookrack.
1,612 reviews10.7k followers
December 27, 2022
**3.5-stars rounded up**

There is a magic within her, a power with limits unknown.

Guinevere arrives in Camelot with heavy trepidation in her heart. She has been sent to marry King Arthur, a man she has never met.

All she knows of him are what the legends say, that he is a great man. He's the one who pulled the legendary sword from the stone.

While this is true, Arthur is a great King, who strives to make the kingdom a better place, there are those outside the kingdom who want him gone.

Unbeknownst to anyone else, Guinevere hasn't actually been sent from a royal family in the South to marry Arthur as the rumors claim, she's actually been sent there to protect him.

You see, there is more to our sweet Guinevere than meets the eye.

She isn't some fragile Princess desiring a life of luxury. Truly, she holds secrets so dark, they are unclear even to herself.

It has been a long time since I have consumed any content focusing on the Arthurian legend. I had fun reading this and thought it was really well done.

I felt connected to Guinevere's character and enjoyed following her on her journey. I think if you have any interest in the story of Arthur and Guinevere, you should definitely give this book a shot.

I think it was a nice twist to hear the story from Guinevere's perspective. It was much darker and more convoluted than I anticipated.

In fact, it was intense at times trying to piece it all together.

She is confused about a lot of things, her past, which she doesn't remember, her purpose and her heart.

I think throughout the course of the story Guinevere shows solid growth. Although not all of her choices were the wisest, I think she was doing the best she could with what information she had.

The supporting cast of characters were also fantastic. I love Arthur and am hoping for a deeper connection between him and Guinevere in the second book.

This left off in an incredible spot and I know the next book is going to take the story up to a whole other level!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Delacorte Press and Random House Children's, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review.

This was a highly anticipated book for me and it did not disappoint. I look forward to continuing with this series.
Profile Image for jessica.
2,555 reviews35.6k followers
November 23, 2020
i am the kind of person where, once i find something i really enjoy, i practically obsess over it. and i think my newest obsession is arthurian mythology because, oh my gosh, this story is everything i never knew was missing from my life.

im pretty sure i saw disneys ‘the sword in the stone’ when i was a kid but, beyond that, i know absolutely nothing about merlin, king arthur, camelot, or the knights of the round table. but this story is making me want to drop everything and read anything about them that i can get my hands on.

even though i dont know much about the mythology this story is based on, i can tell that KW truly made this story her own. these characters and their personalities feel original to her/this story and i could really empathise with them and their development throughout. i am very excited to continue this series and i cant wait to see where it goes!

in the meantime, please send all of your king arthur recommendations my way! :P

4.5 stars
Profile Image for Cindy.
407 reviews116k followers
April 3, 2020
While I do like gender bent stories and seeing Guinevere’s perspective as the main protagonist, I found the story to be too slow for my tastes with not enough drama to excite me throughout.
Profile Image for emma.
1,869 reviews54.5k followers
April 18, 2022
I have next to nothing to say about this book.

Well, except the fact that my reading it single-handedly doubled the global use of the Audible “back 30 seconds” button. I was so bored while listening to it that even though I was doing other things - playing Sims, cleaning, revising my world domination plans - my mind STILL wandered.

It’s that boring.

There’s no plot to be spoken of, unless you count “girl who we are supposed to think is strong and powerful and cool wandering around doing f*ck-all and being a total idiot, and also said girl has magic but she may as well be cursed into being an oak tree for all the fun we get to have seeing her use it” as a plot.

I don’t, personally.

Here’s the best comparison I can make: the majority of this book feels like when you’re playing a video game and you can’t figure out what your next step is supposed to be, so you just walk around the same places and talk to the same people over and over.

In this retelling, Guinevere is actually a magic-person sent by Merlin for the unbelievably abstract purpose of “protecting Arthur,” and until the very end we have no idea from what. Also, neither does Guinevere.

To be blunt, it is the dumbest thing in the world.

We’re supposed to buy good ol’ Guin as a badass, but considering she spends 99% of the story being scared of water and inexplicably building two sides of a love triangle, it makes no sense.

And all the characters are so charmless and FLAT.

Even thinking about this book is making me mad, so I’m going to wrap things up here.

Bottom line: A hard no from me.


let it be known that i am interested in EVERY fairytale-y retelling that includes magic and darkness and women being the ones who actually got sh*t done.
Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,535 reviews9,951 followers
October 8, 2020
UPDATE: $1.99 Kindle US today 10/8/20

December Owlcrate Unboxing! Click on the GOODIES LINK below the pic to see the GOODIES! I got this book aready in my other book box but this is a different color cover so I'm keeping both!


November Faecrate Unboxing! Click on the GOODIES LINK below the pic to see the GOODIES! I wanted this book and I got it! Yay!


That cover is amaze balls!! I want the damn art!!

Mel 🖤🐶🐺🐾
Profile Image for Val ⚓️ Shameless Handmaiden ⚓️.
1,862 reviews30.1k followers
November 15, 2019
2 Stars


I love the Arthurian Legend and snagged this immediately when I saw it as a Book if the Month YA choice. I was really excited at the thought of Guinevere having magical powers and being sent to protect Arthur for once instead of simply being the damsel in a distressful love triangle.

And while I do appreciate the effort made here to make female characters strong and with agency...I felt the Feminist underpinnings and what seems to be the constant need for “representation” in every book these days (while appreciated) overwhelmed everything else. And the story suffered for it.

The characters are all quite bland, especially Arthur. And, we are kept in the dark regarding many details for far too long. I became bored waiting for something to happen. We spend the vast majority of the book watching Guinevere flail aimlessly about, seemingly without any true purpose. When something finally does happen, I found myself not really caring.

I was also kind of disappointed in the magical elements of the story. I guess I just expected...more.
Profile Image for Mara YA Mood Reader.
342 reviews269 followers
January 26, 2020
Where’d my socks go, Kiersten? You knocked them the hell off!
Have you ever seen Merlin the British tv series with Colin Morgan? It’s from 2008 to 2012, an older show but I found it in 2015 on Netflix and all five seasons became my life!

I’ve always been intrigued by Arthurian legend, ever since childhood with Excalibur. But that level of intrigue went to new depths when I discovered Merlin.

Before this, I had only read one other of Kiersten White’s amazing works: The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein which I was instantly obsessed with. So when I caught wind that she had a freaking MERLIN retelling up her sleeve I was beyond stoked!


Kiersten White, I could kiss you! But if we ever meet, I’ll ask first, and most likely I just opt for an awkward side-hug, but you get me! New favorite author here!! This lady right here!

I could not put this down! It was pouring rain for days in California which is soooooo rare that it was truly GLORIOUS, and I had a nasty cold, which meant bundles of blankets, heaps of steaming mugs of lemon tea and me in my bed with The Guinevere Deception for an entire day and despite being so ill, I was in heaven with this book!

Kiersten White writes incredible characters. I’ve only read two of her works so far but I’ve come to the same conclusion with both. Her characters are what I want in YA. Her storytelling is what I want in Ya. Layered and deep and unique and not everyone’s cup of tea. BUT IT’S MY CUP OF TEA.

I must admit, that while this retelling was fantastic, she did my boi Merlin some wrong. Hahahaha. But, it’s not a deal breaker. I just can’t not see Merlin as the precious cinnamon-roll boi, Colin Morgan as Merlin in the tv series!

Honestly I couldn’t help but picture Colin Morgan and Bradley James and Angel Coulby as Merlin, Arthur and

Ugh and I literally squealed when Lancelot graced the pages! Come and stan with me when you read it. I’m shook, yaaaas Kiersten, yaaaasss.

Which reminds me, okay so Merlin was done wrong (only to those who stan the tv series 😆), but holy freaking Excalibur, my new boi, MORDRED got a freaking spotlight.

I’m in love with Mordred.

With Kiersten White’s Mordred. I knew it upon his initial introduction in the book I was like ooooooo, Imma be all over you, I know it. *gasp* Omg is he my Cardan rebound?! I’m such a book slut. I need help.

I don’t go over plot. I’m more of hype-style reviewer because I like to go in blind when I read and choose a book over other people’s incoherent reviews full of squeeee’s and *gasps but I must warn that this is a slow moving plot. But it was done just so well, the world building and the character building, while it was slower, it was still unputdownable!

What kind of sorcery is that? The power of a damn good writer that’s what!

Another fair mention is that there may be a bit of a love-triangle thing going on here. But it’s NOT like your typical YA trope love-triangle. It’s not like sappy-pining, the main character doesn’t swoon over handsomeness, features aren’t even brought up, and it’s not insta-love. And it’s NOT a romance-driven plot.
I’d say it’s more like....there’s two potential “love” interests, and the main character—naturally—chooses to explore those options, getting to know the persons and, maybe or maybe not, making a decision to start a relationship or not. Sounds about real life to me.

I had a library copy. But I am high-key going to run out or click my way to procuring my very own copy because I want to personally support Kiersten White by doing so. I think that says a lot. Update! I got a signed exclusive Owlcrate edition!! Woohoo!

August 2019:
Omg omg omg!!!! One of my all time favorites is Arthurian Legend ever since childhood! And I’ve been soooo empty since the ending of my precious Merlin tv series 😭😱. And Kiersten White?!! *faints*
Profile Image for human.
641 reviews1,016 followers
August 12, 2021

I... really liked this?

Okay, don't look at your screen like that. I had practically set myself up for failure, all things considered. I mean, as much as I love Merthur Arthurian Legend, if there's something I can't stand, it's love triangles. And, well, just about everyone's heard of the whole Guinevere-Arthur-Lancelot thing. You know how it goes, Arthur's wife AKA Guinevere falls for Lancelot, drama ensues, people die, the works.

Not to mention, I probably hyped this book up for myself too much. I wasn't expecting to like it as much as I did.

As it turns out, this retelling has it that Guinevere isn't Guinevere, but rather, Merlin's daughter, sent to help protect Arthur. And yes, there was a love triangle, but it didn't bother me as much as I thought it would, probably because it wasn't the main focus of the book.

As for why I enjoyed it, the writing is pretty decent. I actually felt transported into the world rather than bombarded with eye descriptions info-dumps. I think there might've been a ridiculous metaphor thrown in here and there, but apart from that, it was fairly good.

The magic system, on the other hand, was wonderous. I actually enjoyed reading about all the little knot magics and Guinevere's ability, I guess it just added a little bit to the world and general development of the story for me.

Then, there are the characters. I loved the idea of having a female Lancelot, and enjoyed the growing 'something' between Guinevere and Arthur. However, I absolutely adored the spin of Tristan and Isolde's story that was included in the book.

That being said, however, the plot itself is almost nonexistent. Like, seriously. It's all fluff and feels like one of my mother's soaps until the last 15% of the book, when things actually start to happen. There's a plot twist or two thrown in, but it's all incredibly predictable.

After that ending though?

Overall, this book was good. Okay, I guess. I enjoyed it, and it definitely could have been better, but I've got high expectations for the second one now.
Profile Image for Navessa.
Author 11 books7,640 followers
December 12, 2019
Whoo boy, do I have some things to say about this one.

A lot of my friends on Goodreads lamented over the first 80% of this book and thought it picked up at the end. I had the opposite reaction. Because of course I did. I actually loved the beginning of this. I was drawn into the mystery and the intrigue. I have a long attention span, and so I was HERE for the minor details of the time period and setting.

And then the book ended…

Gather round, friends, and settle in for another Feminist Rant That Nobody Asked For.

First, let me address my lack of a rating. In case you haven’t noticed, I stopped reviewing books I don’t like. For a number of reasons that I really don’t want to get into right now. As a whole, I did not like this book, which is one of the reasons I’m not rating it.

The other is that I still have faith in this series. I adore Kiersten White. Her feminist retellings are fire. That was true for most of this book too.

But, Lord, that ending.

My hope is that there was a point to it. That it’s a setup for the rest of the series and that the main character, Guinevere, is going to pull a 180 sometime during the second installment.


Let’s dive right into the meat of my issue, shall we? This ending is not feminist. At all. In fact, it embodies a devastatingly subversive antifeminist theme in literature that was first popularized in The Taming of the Shrew.

This book is based on Arthurian legend. Our heroine is Guinevere, but not really, because the real Guinevere died and our nameless female lead is just impersonating her.

Arthur banned magic in Camelot, ousting Merlin, his former adviser. But there’s a darkness on the horizon that threatens the realm, so Merlin sends Guinevere to protect Arthur. They marry.

Arthur is kind and benevolent and everything a king should be. Guinevere immediately worships the ground he walks on. Even though he’s never there for her because he’s so busy running a kingdom. Even though she feels like she can never tell him everything about herself. Regardless of the fact that – SURPRISE – he’s in on her deception.

That’s right. He knows Merlin sent her and is okay with her doing magic even though he regularly banishes or executes others caught practicing magical arts because….well that’s never really fleshed out. Which makes him seem like a massive hypocrite from the get go.

And then there’s Mordred, Arthur’s most trusted knight and nephew (who is actually a year older than Arthur because their family tree is all sorts of fucked up). He tasks Mordred with guarding Guinevere when he isn’t around. Which is almost always.

Mordred and Guinevere grow close. He discovers her magical secret and instead of outing her, he protects her. She can talk to him in a way that she can’t with Arthur. She feels like her real self with him.

A self that she’s confused about. There are massive holes in her memory. Merlin deceived her and she thinks he even went so far as to erase her past from her mind. It turns out he didn’t really send her to protect Arthur, but sent her to be protected from the rising darkness.

And Arthur knew about it. In fact, Arthur knows more about her than she does. Does she poke at that? Ask him why? What he knows? If he can fill in her memory gaps? Nope. She just blindly trusts that he’s not keeping some terrible shit from her, even though there are MANY hints that he’s keeping some terrible shit from her.

The whole premise of this story is nature vs order. Magic is depicted as wild and chaotic. It’s not good or evil, it simply IS. Like a wolf that kills a baby deer. Is that sad and horrible? Yup, but guess what, the wolf’s gotta eat, man. If it doesn’t kill the deer, it dies. We don’t get to choose which one of them lives.

And then there’s order. Man imposing his will on nature. Enacting edicts and laws to curb chaos. Shaping the very landscape around him to better suit his own needs.

Arthur is order. He defeated the Dark Queen, banished magic, and with the help of Merlin, put the land to sleep. When she’s with him, Guinevere is made lesser. She has to hide her magic. She comes at least second, always, but sometimes even third or fourth or fifth. She’s more of an afterthought for him. And like Petruchio from The Taming of the Shrew, Arthur endows her with characteristics he prefers, namely voicelessness and usefulness. He only ever goes to her when he needs her to do something for him. Not him, Arthur, the man, but the king.

At one point, he even portrays her as a helpless victim who had to be saved by a brave knight after SHE heroically saved not one, but two people. He did this because she couldn’t tell him the truth of what really happened.

But she told Mordred.

If Arthur is order, then Mordred is chaos. He’s an outrageous, sometimes hilarious flirt. He doesn’t want to impose his will on Guinevere. He likes her just as she is: wild and free and powerful. There’s a spark between them that doesn’t exist between her and her husband.

And in the end, she chooses Arthur over him.

You see, she accidentally awakens the Dark Queen. Mordred is there, and he revels in the queen’s rise. Because it turns out that he is magical too. And he’s been forced to watch others of his kind flee or be killed by men.

If you’re thinking he was secretly evil the whole time and now I’m trying to get you to have sympathy for the “bad guy”, I assure you, he wasn’t, and I’m not. He’s VERY clear that he isn’t on the side of the Dark Queen. He’s not her minion, he just wants to see a balance brought back to nature before the order of man kills what little magic is left in the world.

And really, who could blame him for that? Just look at the havoc that man’s “order” has wreaked on our planet. I’m at the point where I was actually rooting for the rise of the Dark Queen.

Burn everything to the ground. I am with you, Your Majesty.

Mordred, while not as far gone as me, sees to it that the Dark Queen rises. Afterward, he urges Guinevere to run away with him. To stop making herself less than for the sake of a king who has no time for her. Who lies to her. Who doesn’t even love her like Mordred does.

But Guinevere, working against her own self interest, chooses Arthur instead. And I literally wanted to cry.

The antifeminist theme I referred to in the beginning of this review is one in which women in literature, are “tamed” by the men they’re with. Civilized. Molded into a shape more pleasing for the man. They start the books with their own agency, much like Guinevere, and by the end act as nothing so much as a mirror for their husbands.

I’m praying that I’m wrong about this series. That Guinevere chooses Arthur because of her own naivete and the fact that she’s imprinted on him because of Merlin’s manipulations. After all, the wizard shoved his own trust and love for Arthur INTO her brain.

My hope is that she snaps out of it. That Arthur tells her all the terrible shit he and Merlin have kept from her and she realizes she made THE WRONG CHOICE and runs screaming after Mordred.

Because if not, I am going to be beyond disappointed in this. And I will put a star rating to that disappointment.

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Profile Image for Samantha.
440 reviews16.8k followers
May 2, 2020
As someone who is not super familiar with the Arthur legend besides what is known in pop culture, I’m not sure how this would be received by fans of the legend. This retelling is a mix of nature magic, elemental beings, and some gender-swapping and other twists on the original characters. This did read a little younger than I was expecting as Guinevere is 16 and acts like it with her naivety. She seems to not follow threads that will probably be obvious to most readers. There is a love triangle (this is the Arthur legend after all) but I didn’t feel particularly drawn to the romance in this either. There are some questions not answered in this book but I don’t know if I’ll be intrigued enough to continue when the next installment in the series comes around.
Profile Image for aly ☆彡 (hiatus).
346 reviews1,170 followers
September 25, 2022
(This review may contain minor spoilers)

Disclaimer: I am not well equipped with the whole story of King Arthur (other than the general part of it), so take my review with grain and salts.

1) Plot:
Undeniably, this book started slow but I like how the story builds up as it goes. The novel relies on flashbacks and let readers be familiar with Guinevere as a character more than it is by coming up with a compelling plot. Still and all, the relentless riddle will still make you intrigue to continue further (though you might find the constant repetitive monologue annoying).

2) World building:
The Guinevere Deception is a magical and political story. The pragmatic sense of White's magic is one of my favourite features of the world she has created. Guinevere employs knots to perform spells, and another character uses stitching, but I believe the description of the magic system could have been explored more than it was. Not to say, there was little to capture the time and place's ambiance but I'm sure cutting some slack since this is merely the first book.

3) Characters
I may not be an expert with the legend but I do know that King Arthur is glory. However, the same could not be said for White's King Arthur. Aside from the fact that his character was unremarkable, I couldn’t see any renowned things about him. I know this is a reimagining of Guinevere's role in Camelot and I like that because King Arthur's story has always been patriarchal, but he's just barely noticeable.

Popular opinion but I like Modred the best. I feel like his character is more engaging than Arthur in this book. I was anticipating his betrayal (tho I hope he wouldn’t since I liked him) but I did not see it coming sooner than I expected. When I knew this book is going to be a trilogy, I thought it would happen in the second or third book. Not like... right now but I like how different this Modred is from the myth. Kinda rooting for him with Guinevere as well.

Then we have the Lancelot . I couldn't call dib on who the Lancelot will be, so I was surprised when they revealed as the Lancelot. I think they were introduced a bit late in the story but I liked the surprise still.

As for Guinevere herself. She was okay I guess? I like that she was written in a way that she is an enigma. The girl who doesn't know her old name, who her mother was, or how involved Merlin was in her life before. The Guinevere Deception's mystery doesn't always progress simply, and neither does Guinevere's understanding of her role in Camelot and what she wants it to be, but the novel nevertheless holds the reader's attention as Guinevere learns what it takes to be queen and protect Camelot.

Despite that, Guinevere's character can be a bit infuriating. She was so naive and simply infantile; which you can see that in her ways of "protecting" the king. She jumped to conclusions so easily and dwells on solving the mystery which makes you wanna pull your hair sometimes. Hopefully, her character would grow in the next book.

Meanwhile the rest of them? I would say it was okay but they lack backstory and connection with the main characters; such as Brangien or her story with Isolde. We only got a brief of it when she was caught scrying and that was it. All these characters were introduced on a surface level; I'm expecting we would be given a bit more in-depth in the sequel.


I almost wish this novel would discard its Arthurian roots and focus on being its distinct fantasy, free of all the usual baggage and spoilers. But as the first installment to the series, it has enough plotline and mystery to entice me to read the next book. And despite the shortcoming, I do find myself enjoying this.
Profile Image for Amy Imogene Reads.
973 reviews850 followers
January 8, 2020
The Guinevere Deception is a story about women's agency and their role in myth—and cleverly ties together known aspects of the Arthurian legends with some much needed LGBT+ and modern sensibilities.

Pacing: ★★ 1/2
Surprises: ★★★★
Ending: ★★★★

I'm so mad at this book because it does not put its best foot forward. The Guinevere Deception starts out so simplistic, so run-of-the-mill, that it's boring. Boring boring. Skim-worthy, even.

But then, we cross the hump. The second half of this book is gorgeous. It's lyrical, it's feminist, it's evocative of the Kiersten White that I remember from my long-ago read of And I Darken—where women had their own agency and commentary—that I put down my kindle and went what? Is this the same story?

The Guinevere Deception follows "Guinevere," the wife of the newly made King Arthur. Arthur has won Camelot, and now he rules in a realm where magic is pushed to the edges of his borders and everything is free from chaos and everything is wholesome and good. (Ha. Obviously, this is a disaster waiting to happen.) Enter Guinevere, except we, as the reader, know the Guinevere is not really the princess at all, but the daughter of Merlin, sent to be the last line of defense for King Arthur—she is supposed to keep the king safe from magic...by using the forbidden magic herself.

Such a good plan. No holes at all. (Right.)

Guinevere enters into the world of Camelot and starts exploring the city and its people in the most mundane ways possible. The dialogue is meh, the chapters go slowly, and I caught myself jumping ahead several times because we were so clearly treading water, waiting for something to happen.

Then, some things happen.

I won't spoil anything in the plot because I think most of the enjoyment comes from being surprised, but The Guinevere Deception has some significant tricks. Guinevere isn't as milk toast as she seems, Arthur isn't that stupid, Lancelot appears in THE MOST EPIC TWIST as a different take on the character, women support women, some LGBT+ rep enters as breath of fresh air in this traditional hetero tale, and I just really enjoyed the turn of events.

The entire time I was reading The Guinevere Deception, I kept saying to myself: man, I miss Kiersten White when she gets dark. Maybe this is too light for me, and I'll stick with her darker content. But I can see the hints of darkness in the set up for book two, and call me intrigued—I think White has more things up her sleeve.

Definitely pick this one up if you're a fan of legends, myths, retelling, feminism, LGBT+, and good old fashioned plot twist surprises. I think this one is worth enjoying if you can get over its own problematically dull beginnings.

Thank you to Delacorte Press for an ARC of this title in exchange for an honest review.

Original notes: Ahhhh I just received the ARC of this! It comes out next week?? Oh dear. Can't wait!
Profile Image for NickReads.
461 reviews1,195 followers
Want to read
May 8, 2019
just imagine this cover in a hardcover copy
Profile Image for Bibi.
1,288 reviews3,232 followers
September 2, 2020
Again, I'm in the minority only this time I like a book that some of my friends seem ambivalent to. To be candid, I have a broad appreciation for Kiersten's style of writing especially her inversion of relationship and gender roles.
Profile Image for sarah.
404 reviews268 followers
April 9, 2020
3.5 stars

The Guinevere Deception is the first instalment in Kiersten White's new series: Camelot Rising.
This book takes Authorian lore and provides a new twist. Guinevere comes to Camelot to marry Arthur- but she is not the real Guinevere, she is Merlin's daughter, sent to protect King Arthur from an unknown threat.

You definitely do not have to be familiar with the surrounding mythology to enjoy this. Prior to picking up the book, the majority of my knowledge came from that one scene in 'Night at The Museum' with Hugh Jackman. In parts, that was beneficial because I was shocked at some plot twists that those who know more about the source material may not have been. However, Kirsten White does change enough elements of the story to make it new and unique, and not a carbon copy.

Probably my favourite part about this book was the atmosphere. Especially for the first half, the story felt magical and enchanting. I don't know what it is about castles, knights and medieval settings- but they always feel familiar and comforting to me. Ironic considering I have obviously never experienced that time period or setting, but nevertheless true. I think it just reminds me of my childhood, reading and watching movies about kingdoms and magic.

“There was good, and there was evil, but there was so much space between the two.”

The magic system was really interesting and unique. Knot magic isn't something I had read about before, and it added a really interesting layer to the story. I don't quite understand the extent of the powers, but I expect it will be developed a bit more in later books.

Mordred was my favourite character. His character was complex, twisty and well developed. Arthur is a close second. I loved seeing how much he cared for his kingdom, but I feel like I don't know him as much. I hope we see some of his flaws in the sequels because as of now he doesn't really feel like a real person. Guinevere was probably my least favourite character. Her actions and some of the things she said had me face palming. I also think her fear of water was a bit extreme. I just want to know- does she shower if she can't be near water? Never mind, I don't think I want to know.

“Sometimes we have to hide from what others see in order to be what we know we are.”

I didn't really care about the plot that much, and found the ending slightly rushed.
My main critique was that I wanted more
more Mordred
more Arthur
more Merlin
more magic

Overall, while slightly lacklustre and surface level- I have faith that the story and characters will develop more as the series goes on.
Profile Image for Whitney Atkinson.
940 reviews14k followers
May 19, 2021
i'm a bit baffled by how average this turned out to be. it read as really underwritten and i wished we had more explanation of the world for readers unfamiliar with arthurian folklore, as well as general backstory on who this girl is and why she's qualified to be arthur's protector. it wasn't necessarily bad, but nothing unique to boost it past 3 stars.
Profile Image for Cindy ✩☽♔.
1,096 reviews804 followers
June 25, 2020
I think my main problem with this book is it offered up too many questions but provided me with very few answers. And the answers I did get felt lackluster and somehow too easy.

Instead of the intriguing, magical tale, I was promised I got a lukewarm story that never seemed to settle with me properly.

Sad to say, because I am a fan of Ms. White's other works. But this was just not for me.

Guinevere's relationship with Arthur was also a mixed point for me. They clearly value and respect each other a lot. But it was not the romance I thought it would be. She had more chemistry with Mordred than she did with Arthur. And the so-called betrayal felt inevitable from the start.

Basically, the book was just a big bag of a disappointment for me.

I received a free ARC copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Big thank you Delacorte Press for providing me with a copy!
June 24, 2020
”She did not want to be an invisible queen in the castle. Arthur did not rule that way. And she wanted to be his match. His equal. His partner. She could no longer deny it. She wanted to be more tan a protector to him”.


Creo que nunca me había encontrado en mi vida lectora con un libro que reinterpretara las leyendas artúricas. La historia de Merlín, Arturo y todos los caballeros de la mesa redonda me apasiona, así que tenía muchas expectativas al leer The Guinevere Deception. Honestamente, no puedo decir que haya adorado el libro, pues se me hizo más bien lento y, además, sentí que hubo un gran plot twist que se desperdició por no revelarlo en el momento indicado.

Aquí nos encontramos en un momento de la historia en el que Camelot, después de una guerra brutal contra una gran hechicera, salió victorioso. Arturo y sus caballeros pelearon valerosamente, pero el precio por ganar una guerra es alto. Sabiendo el gran caos que hay detrás de toda la magia, sea blanca u oscura, Arturo decide desterrarla por completo de Camelot. Y eso incluye a Merlín. Sin embargo, el gran hechicero, que ha criado a una mujer poderosa, decide hacerla pasar por la princesa Guinevere (que acaba de morir) y enviarla hacia Camelot para que se case con Arturo y, sin que él lo sepa, lo proteja de posibles ataques de magia oscura.

Mi primer gran problema es que, casi desde el primer capítulo, nos revelan que la verdadera Guinevere está muerta y que la mujer que conocemos y que se va a casar con Arturo es una farsa. ¡Explíquenme por qué esto, que es un plot twist épico, no lo guardan para un momento álgido del libro! Cuando estaba empezándolo y leí eso mi reacción fue como “bah…”. Siento que fue una revelación tremendamente apresurada y que le quitó mucho misterio al libro.

Además, Guinevere-no-Guinevere no me encantó como personaje. Siento que empezó siendo una mujer súper decidida y comprometida con proteger a Arturo con magia poderosa pero indetectable. Pero llega un punto en el libro, en el que nos descubren otro secreto, y ella pierde por completo su rumbo. Se vuelve una mujer que no tiene propósito y que, durante un gran trecho, se deja sencillamente llevar por la corriente.

¿Y qué les digo de Arturo? Ay… es un personaje que tampoco me fascinó porque era demasiado bueno. ¡Y ya sé que él es la encarnación de la bondad y la justicia! Pero creo que precisamente eso lo volvía un poco predecible y soso. Sí, es genial que adore tantísimo a su reino y que siempre valore todo desde la balanza de la justicia y la equidad. Pero cuando esa bondad absoluta y esa lealtad sin límites a tu pueblo hace que escojas ese bien mayor por encima del de una persona que, supuestamente, te importa y quieres… joder, macho.

Debo decir que, para mí, lo que salvó completamente el libro de ser aún más lento fue Mordred, uno de los caballeros de Arturo. Mordred es ese tipo de hombre que se escabulle sin que lo escuches, que está ahí observándolo todo, pero pasando desapercibido al mismo tiempo. Es absolutamente fascinante. A Mordred lo envuelve un aura de misterio, coquetería y peligro tan impresionante que era imposible no querer que tuviera más protagonismo. Adoré todas sus interacciones con Guinevere-no-Guinevere. Mordred es la tentación y la certeza de que ella, por más que esté cumpliendo una misión, quiere una vida propia, quiere ser libre y disfrutar de sus sentimientos, no estar confinada por una promesa.

Otra de las cosas que me hacen tener un poco de fe y no descartar leer la segunda parte de esta trilogía es, precisamente, el final. Después de muchos capítulos que se sienten lentos y una trama que no avanza y se siente bastante introductoria, llega el final. ¡Y por fin hay acción! ¡Y revelaciones! Claro, no tan impresionantes como la que hubiera sido revelar sobre el final que la mujer que se casó con Arturo no es Guinevere, pero de todas maneras logra captar la atención de los lectores. Creo que es un buen puente para un segundo libro que, ojalá, tenga muchísimo más fuego y acción.
Profile Image for Kayla Dawn.
291 reviews902 followers
March 1, 2020
This was okay, nothing special.
I liked the magic system and the writing style but the characters and the plot were pretty cliché and the little twist towards the end was very predictable.
Profile Image for Shannon.
242 reviews31 followers
Want to read
July 9, 2019
Can Merlin be young and have dark raven hair and adorably large ears?
Profile Image for Ashleigh (a frolic through fiction).
461 reviews7,373 followers
March 15, 2020
I was sad to give this one a low rating, because it's not particularly bad. It was a nice enough read, with lovely descriptions of Camelot and a fun take on Arthurian legend. But I have to admit, I was expecting something more. Based on legend full with knights, magic, and more, this book felt like it should've been a fast-paced, action-packed, whirlwind of a story but ultimately went by quite slowly. It takes until almost exactly halfway for any real event to happen, and when things do happen, they rattled through almost too quickly in comparison.

I also just couldn't help but feel like the plot was largely oversimplified, much more so than needed. The beginning seemed disordered, with information being revealed -or not - at whim, and I had the strangest realisation that I almost had to rearrange the information I had just read in order to understand it properly. It did even itself out as the book progressed, though the rest proved a simple story. Everything you needed to know was laid out to you on a plate. There was barely any nuance with characters. Nothing was really open to interpretation. It made it an easy read - definitely not a bad thing - but I would've like it to be a little more, considering the epic scope legends usually bring.

Add in the simplification of relationships - i.e. Guinevere deciding she loves/mistrusts people two seconds after meeting them - and I just didn't really feel much for this book. As I said, it was a nice enough read and I wouldn't say its outright awful. It builds the world of Camelot pretty well and lays out some interesting tweaks to the original legend. But sadly that just wasn't enough.
Profile Image for Sara.
1,122 reviews363 followers
February 6, 2020
Does anyone else remember the Whoopi Goldberg film ‘A Knight in Camelot’? ‘First Knight’ with Richard Gere as an American accented Lancelot? Or even that one with Keira Knightley as some kind of weird Celtic warrior version of Guinevere?

Yeah, all of those were better than whatever the hell this was.

The Guinevere Deception is an ‘alternative’ retelling of the Arthurian legend where our heroine Guinevere is a changeling witch who has been sent to Camelot by Merlin to protect King Arthur from an unknown threat. While reading it just felt like the author had picked out the bits of folklore and mythology she liked and altered them to suit her plot but without really expanding on them and making them truly her own stories. The writing is very basic, and character development and world building is poor. Nothing is explained properly, the magic system is haphazard and confusing and there seems to be no reasoning behind some of the plot decisions.

With our main protagonist Guinevere, we first see her thrown into Arthur’s world on her way to be wed. We know nothing about her backstory, and even who she really is. Throughout the story we gain minuscule snippets of her time before Camelot, but conveniently her memories have been erased, making her history spotty at best, but mainly non existent. This makes her decision to marry Arthur on the word of Merlin alone feel very insincere, as we never see the two together until over 75% of the way through. Instead, Merlin is described as an almost omnipotent old man who knows everything, but never explains anything. His lack of communication to Guinevere was deeply irritating. All of these factors resulted in me really not caring about any of these characters.

The secondary characters, including all of Arthur’s knights are woefully underused and underdeveloped, meaning we never see any of the camaraderie that Arthur is suppose to share with these men. Multiple times we’re told these guys love Arthur, but I never saw it. The ‘romance’ between Guinevere and Arthur also feels very quick and insincere. As was the other romantic entanglements, which I felt were used more for plot direction than anything else. It wasn’t believable at all.

The plot itself is also boring and predictable. Nothing surprised me, because everything I already knew from Arthurian legend, and honestly not a lot even happens. We have Guinevere aimlessly wandering around Camelot on a wild goose chase for most of the story, with Arthur off fighting ‘border conflicts’. There’s no tension, no build up in action and any changes to the traditional stories felt either obvious or pointless. The ending was also incredibly underwhelming and rushed, with a cliffhanger that makes the whole book feel unnecessary.

I’m so disappointed after reading this. Arthurian legends have so much potential to be amazing, but this really missed the mark with sloppy writing, boring characters and a non existent plot.
Profile Image for Kezia Duah.
392 reviews344 followers
November 29, 2021
This was really good. I felt the spiciness from the beginning of the book, and no, I don’t mean THAT kind of spicy. I mean the ambiance was full of darkness which I love in a book. I don’t know what is actually going on with the romance, but I need a solid one!!! Please!! The twists were great and that ending was fire. Reading the next book next.
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