Archive for July, 2016

postheadericon Giving Guinevere Her Due

Daughter of Destiny eBook Cover Large

Like many girls who would grow up to have a passion for history and literature, my childhood heroes weren’t Disney princesses or Barbie, though I was a fan of both; they were the women of myth and legend, specifically Guinevere and Maid Marian. So in many ways it was inevitable that I would someday write a book about Guinevere. (Actually, a trilogy called Guinevere’s Tale. The first two novels in the series, Daughter of Destiny and Camelot’s Queen, are available now.)

But what brought me to this point was years of wondering about the enigmatic character of Guinevere. Who was she before she married Arthur? Did she love someone before him? What was her true role in Camelot? Did she rule equally with Arthur? Was she in love with him? Did she want to be queen? Why Lancelot rather than other knights? How could Arthur condemn his wife to death? What happened after Lancelot rescued her? What if Guinevere didn’t live out her days in a convent? We know so much about Arthur and his knights, and even Morgan, but so little about the woman who would have been Arthur’s helpmate, and in the Celtic culture a historic Arthur would have lived in, possibly his equal.

Literature tells painfully few things about Guinevere:

  1. She was Arthur’s wife
  2. She may have been barren
  3. She was kidnapped by Melwas/Malegant/Mordred
  4. She had an affair with Lancelot (either emotionally or physically, depending on the story)
  5. She may or may not have allied with/married Mordred after the fall of Camelot
  6. She ended her days in a convent

But no one’s identity should be reduced to a handful of incidents. Guinevere had a childhood, a family and dreams for her future. She was a queen and may or may not have been a mother. As for her infamous affair, every situation has a context that is important to understanding it, even when it’s the climax that is remembered. Guinevere had reasons for acting as she did and she didn’t do it in a vacuum. The circumstances surrounding her affair are just as important as the act itself. The medieval tale of her ending her days in a convent is convenient and moral, but we all know life is messy and usually doesn’t end tied up in a nice bow. Chances are good there was far more to Guinevere’s story than we’ve ever heard.

Camelot's Queen eBook Cover Large

Guinevere’s Tale (Daughter of Destiny, Camelot’s Queen, and Mistress of Legend) is my attempt to answer these questions. In it, Guinevere tells her own story – from the age of 11 to well into her 50s – seeking to right the wrongs history has thrust upon her, to clear away the mists of time and give the reader a clear picture of who she really was, virtues, sins and all. As she says in the prologue: “I deserve to be able to bear witness before being condemned by men who never saw my face. Grieve with me, grieve for me, but do not believe the lies which time would sell. All I ask is that mankind listen to my words, and then judge me on their merit.”

Hopefully, through these books I can provide a fully-fleshed out character for women young and old alike to look to in the generations after me. It’s my hope that as women continue to claim their power in modern society, they will learn from Guinevere’s mistakes, emulate her strengths, and claim her as the heroine and role model she should be.  After all, if Arthur gets to be “the once and future king” who is constantly being resurrected and reinvented by authors and filmmakers, why shouldn’t his wife have the same privilege?

Why Guinevere Matters Now
I’m certainly not the first author to tell the story of Guinevere. Persia Woolley, Nancy McKenzie, Rosalind Miles and Sharan Newman are but a few who have taken on her story in the last 20 years. But each one of us tells Guinevere’s story differently, with a different purpose and different filter as we come to a universal tale with unique life experiences, cultural pressures, and viewpoints. We are all products of our own generation and time. While being careful not to stray too far from history (lucky for me, the Celts are known for their strong women), I offer my series as a 21st century woman’s interpretation of the timeless legend.

It’s time to bring Guinevere’s name into the public consciousness. 2016 is the perfect time for Guinevere to finally take her place as equal to her famous husband, to rule beside him, rather than be lost in his shadow. Why now? Beside the fact that we may FINALLY elect our first woman president:

  1. It’s time for her name to be restored – Like Mary Magdalene and countless other women before her, Guinevere has been misrepresented by history. Most retellings remember only her sin, her affair with Lancelot, not the woman, the circumstances and the life surrounding it. Guilty or not, there is always a story around a moment in time and Guinevere deserves the same in-depth context and examination afforded her male counterparts. As she says in the opening of my book, “I deserve to be able to bear witness before being condemned by men who never saw my face…All I ask is that mankind listen to my words, and then judge me on their merit.”
  2. The world needs strong female characters – Guinevere, despite her sullied reputation, is an archetype women of every age can look up to. A few years ago, Merida in Brave showed us that Disney princesses can be strong and accomplish a mission without a man at the end to bring about her happily ever after. Legendary ones can do the same. If King Arthur existed, Guinevere would have lived in a similar culture to Merida, in a time and place when women had more rights than in the rest of the world. Even 1,500 years later, Guinevere shows us that as women, while we naturally love and nurture, we can also lead ourselves and others, taking our destinies into our own hands and shaping our own future while positively influencing others.
  3. She is a perfect example of how strong is more than just physical strength – Yes, my Guinevere can wield a sword and leads troops into battle, but that’s not the only way in which she shows strength. Over the course of the trilogy, my Guinevere is a woman who is tapped for roles she never expected – much less desired – and deals with repeated heartache, the loss of loved ones, jealousy, abuse, and expectations that would bow lesser women. She shows us that being a strong woman means carrying on even in your darkest hours and emerging on the other side stronger than you were before.

It is a bold statement for me as a relatively unknown author to say that I hope my books do for Guinevere what The Mists of Avalon did for Morgan, but that is my goal. In addition to entertaining my readers, I hope to rehabilitate the reputation of a fallen queen and show that she deserves to be as honored and revered in own right as much as The Once and Future King she married.

Nicole Evelina is a writer of historical fiction. Her books Daughter of Destiny and Camelot’s Queen are on sale now at


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