Book II of the Chrysalis Queen Quartet for younger readers chronicles the formative years of the woman destined to become King Arthur’s queen. Though a princess, Guinevere is an orphan being raised by her uncle and aunt, the rulers of Gwynedd. Her relationship with her aunt and cousin have improved since the events in the first novel, Guinevere’s Gift (2008), but fresh challenges await when the family travels to attend an assembly of Welsh kings and to meet Arthur’s sister Morgan. Not only must she sort out friends from enemies among the intimidating strangers whom she encounters, but she must foil the plot to blame her friend Llyr the hillman for the theft of a valuable dagger if she is to save his life.
Thirteen-year-old Guinevere is a sympathetic character: courageous and thoughtful; painfully honest and staunchly loyal to her friends; understanding of and compassionate towards others, even those who have injured her. She will be an ideal partner for Arthur with his noble aspirations for Britain. Yet she is doomed to betray him and to destroy all that he has built. This is the fate that awaits her: it is decreed by the legend; and by the author’s own earlier novels; and, in this series, by the prophecy with which she is burdened. It creates a level of irony that adds poignancy to the story of a girl growing to womanhood, struggling to deal with all her hopes and uncertainties, and torn between the securities of childhood and the challenges of the future. This is another insightful and thought-provoking novel from a skilled author.