The Lady of the Sea

Written by Rosalind Miles
Review by Sarah Johnson

Twenty years into his political union with Isolde of Ireland, King Mark of Cornwall remains childless. Though he has no desire to consummate his marriage, he will do so, if only to beget an heir. Isolde, en route back to Cornwall with Tristan, her gallant knight and lover, hears the voice of her mother’s spirit. The late Queen urges her to abandon her useless marriage and return home, to reign triumphant in Ireland as her foremothers had for centuries. In leaving Tristan, who stands by his oath to King Mark, Isolde turns her back on her lifelong love, and her hope of a child of their union. Back in Ireland, Isolde faces more danger, in the form of a Pictish invasion and its handsome leader, who would rather marry Isolde than wage war. Eventually Tristan comes to realize his future is with his lady, but it may be too late. The Tristan and Isolde trilogy (of which this is the third volume) is a successful attempt at retelling the classic legend. This entry is a complete departure from the usual story, but it’s a welcome change: it omits the tragic ending and is none the less romantic for it. Miles imbues her tale with a mystical, fairy tale-like quality, and in her hands, Arthurian England becomes a truly magical place. Readers of Arthurian romances and Goddess-centered historical fantasy will find much to enjoy.