Even readers who don't normally enjoy Arthurian legends will love this version, a retelling from the point of view of the women behind the throne. Morgaine (more commonly known as Morgan Le Fay) and Gwenhwyfar (a Welsh spelling of Guinevere) struggle for power, using Arthur as a way to score points and promote their respective worldviews.
This is a well-loved retelling of the Arthurian legend, from Arthur's birth to the end of his reign, and is based largely on Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte Darthur. The musical Camelot was based on it, as was Disney's The Sword in the Stone. After White's death, a conclusion to The Once and Future King was found among his papers; it was published in 1977 as The Book of Merlyn.
Sixteen stories based on the Arthurian tradition, by such authors as John Steinbeck, Jane Yolen, Andre Norton, and others. Also included are a helpful guide to Arthurian names and characters and a bibliography of "100 Years of Arthurian Fiction."
Returning to the era of Arthur and his Camelot, Stewart has given life to two lesser-known characters from Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur. She enlarges upon and gives wonderful detail to Alexander, a young prince who sets off on a quest to avenge his
father's assassination and to Alice, a gentle young lass who accompanies her father on pilgrimages to Holy shrines. Their stories are told in five alternating chapters until they meet, fall in love, and vanquish the foe in the exciting climax.
This Guinevere is no starry-eyed princess, only good for looking beautiful and breaking kingdoms in two. Guinevere, Queen of the Dragon Throne, calls upon the spirits of the dead to aid her fledgling army in battling pirates, an action that changes her own soul irrevocably. Meanwhile, a shape shifter and childhood friend named Black Leg (soon to be Lancelot) goes on a hero's quest to prove himself worthy of his beloved Guinevere.
Cornwell's Arthur is fierce, dedicated and complex, a man with many problems, most of his own making. His impulsive decisions sometimes have tragic ramifications, as when he lustfully takes Guinevere instead of the intended Ceinwyn, alienating his friends and allies and inspiring a bloody battle. The secondary characters are equally unexpected, and are ribboned with the magic and superstition of the times. Merlin impresses as a remarkable personage, a crafty schemer fond of deceit and disguise. Lancelot is portrayed as a warrior-pretender, a dishonest charmer with dark plans of his own; by contrast, Galahad seems the noble soldier of purpose and dedication. Guinevere, meanwhile, no gentle creature waiting patiently in the moonlight, has designs and plots of her own. The story of these characters and others is narrated forcefully and with dry wit by Derfel Cadarn, one of Arthur's warriors, who later becomes a monk.