Twilight of Avalon
Touchstone, May 5 2009, $16.00
Morgan LeFay’s granddaughter Queen Isolde struggles with the powers she inherited from her infamous ancestor and her father Mordred. With the murder of her spouse, the king of England, she knows his loyal men will suspect her of sorcery due to her roots. She also knows there will be an ugly power struggle to initially determine who leads the army and subsequently fill the throne. She feels ill because she will see the bloody fights twice; before and during. Her advisors urge her to marry so she can be protected, but she abhors the idea especially since she still grieves her loss of three days.
The apparently most powerful of the warriors fighting for the crown is Cornwall King Marche, who plans to marry the queen to solidify his hold though he is also attracted to her. Isolde tries to end his courtship, but Marche refuses to listen. When the beleaguered queen meets mercenary prisoner Trystan, she learns she is unsafe from Marche, who forces her to marry him. However, Isolde and Trystan flee the castle with Marche in pursuit.
This is a fascinating Arthurian tale that retells the often retold story of Isolde and Trystan. The emphasis is on political intrigue though there are paranormal moments. Part of the intrigue is caused by Trystan who throughout remains an enigmatic shadowy champion; perhaps antihero might be more descriptive. However, Isolde comes across as either incompetent or a moron as she remains dense and oblivious that something is wrong in her inner circle while her loyal supporters keep getting assassinated. Still this is an interesting fantasy told from her perspective, which ironically affirms her enemies are right that someone else needs to be on the throne for the sake of the kingdom.