Knight of the Sacred Lake

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Overview

Camelot , and Arthur and Guenevere are holding a glittering feast to celebrate their knight s of the Round Table. But amidst the joy of the ceremony, one key figure is absent. Sir Lancelot of the Lake has left court, sent away by Guenevere, who is tormented by a love for him she may neither honor nor deny.

But her efforts to bury her forbidden passion and commit herself again to Arthur are threatened by the malice of Morgan le Fay, herself nursing an illicit love for Arthur. Now...

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Overview

Camelot , and Arthur and Guenevere are holding a glittering feast to celebrate their knight s of the Round Table. But amidst the joy of the ceremony, one key figure is absent. Sir Lancelot of the Lake has left court, sent away by Guenevere, who is tormented by a love for him she may neither honor nor deny.

But her efforts to bury her forbidden passion and commit herself again to Arthur are threatened by the malice of Morgan le Fay, herself nursing an illicit love for Arthur. Now the proud mother of Arthur's only son, Morgan is determined to thwart Merlin's age-old quest to ensure the survival of the house of Pendragon. But unknown to all at Camelot, the old order is threatened by the determination of the Christians to destroy the worship of the Goddess, and secure the Sacred Hallows of Avalon for their own use.

As Guenevere struggles to reconcile duty and destiny Lancelot, too, is torn by conflicting loyalties to his Queen and King. Guenevere holds staunchly to her faith in the knight. But can she endure his absence, and the shattering news that she has a rival for his love?

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble Guide to New Fiction
This "powerful" second novel in the Guenevere trilogy ("an extended version of the Arthurian legend") brings to life a legendary woman's bravery, passion, and torment and all the pageantry, violence, and beauty of an age gone by. "Entrancing and extraordinary - I'm letting all my friends know about it."
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The cast is so familiar, from Guenevere to Arthur to Morgan Le Fay, that the question is: how to make a retelling of the deathless saga of Camelot new and vital? In this second volume in her Guenevere trilogy (after Guenevere: Queen of The Summer Country), the popular and prolific Miles injects the familiar tale with poesy and some hoke. Purists will balk at the novel's new age, goddess-worshipping bent, but Miles produces an engrossing if unorthodox read. Her Guenevere is portrayed as a queen born to rule, taught from the cradle that woman is the giver of life, but she falls apart like any serving wench when her knight is in danger. Lancelot here is something of a cipher, but he is given more credit than any of the other men in this epic. Arthur tries his best but doesn't seem the master of himself or his kingdom. Merlin is a fey old man, and he fumbles through his quest, the search for Arthur and Morgan Le Fay's son Mordred. Christianity, in the form of Catholic priests who threaten the sacred isle of Avalon, plays a negative role; the church is challenged by a goddess cult centered around the Lady of the Lake and upheld by Guenevere. Though the religious background is farfetched, the adventures of the knights of the Round Table, the machinations of Morgan Le Fay, and Guenevere's struggle to remain faithful to Arthur, love Lancelot and keep peace in Camelot are engaging. No doubt Miles's fans will be pleased with this lush, feminist take on the English epic. 50,000 first printing; major ad/promo; rights sold in Germany, Holland, Portugal, Spain and the U.K. (July) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
VOYA
In this sequel to Guenevere: Queen of the Summer Country (Crown, 1999), Miles continues to explore the dawning of a male-centered, violent Christianity and its effects on the men and women of the goddess-worshiping society at Camelot. The Christian monks' strategy to win converts—claiming that the Holy Grail is Christ's cup from the Last Supper—and Morgan La Fay's hatred of the Church and anybody associated with it are woven with incisive strength into this new Arthurian romance. It is Guenevere's love and respect for Arthur and Briton juxtaposed with her treasonous passions for and jealousy of Lancelot that drives the novel and keeps the plot from flagging. Guenevere has Lancelot leave court because she cannot trust herself in his presence, and Lancelot agrees to go because of his love for both Guenevere and Arthur. Meanwhile a wild-eyed Merlin searches for Mordred, Arthur's son by his half-sister Morgan, and finds him by novel's end. He introduces Mordred to the king and queen at court, leaving the door wide open for the third installment. This lengthy novel lacks the sensual appeal of Marion Zimmer Bradley's Mists of Avalon (Knopf, 1982), another novel told through the women of King Arthur's time. The language here has a formal timbre—in a folkloric sense—and at times bogs down. The novel, however, does hold its own. Miles's portrayal of Guenevere's jealous rages and conflicting duties, and eventual mastery over them, is impressive. This rendering of the legend is for older King Arthur fans—high school and college students. VOYA CODES: 4Q 4P S A/YA (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12; Adult andYoung Adult). 2000, Crown, 420p. Ages 16 to Adult. Reviewer: Cynthia Grady VOYA, February 2001 (Vol. 23, No.6)
Library Journal
Once again, British author Miles takes her readers to the well-traveled realms of Arthurian legend. In this sequel to Queen of the Summer Country (LJ 1/99), Guenevere appears to lose some of the strength she exhibited in the earlier book as a warrior queen. Her ill-fated love for Lancelot does irreparable damage to her marriage and her commitment to her people and her realm. The plot lags somewhat as the author concentrates on exploring the queen's inner turmoil. Miles is at her best in her treatment of Morgan le Fay, half-sister to Arthur and mother of Mordred, Arthur's bastard son. After being immured in a convent where she was starved and beaten for much of her youth, Morgan is determined to avenge herself on all who have wronged her. The scene of the convent's slow but inevitable destruction is superb, and Mordred is the perfect tool to use against Arthur and Guenevere. As the story ends, Mordred is discovered by Merlin, who has spent years searching Britain for the boy, and returned to Camelot--opening the door to a third novel in this saga. Although not a memorable addition to the ranks of Arthurian legend, this is an entertaining tale that tells an old story from a new perspective. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 3/1/00.]--Jane Baird, Anchorage Municipal Libs., AK Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.\
School Library Journal
The cast is so familiar, from Guenevere to Arthur to Morgan Le Fay, that the question is: how to make a retelling of the deathless saga of Camelot new and vital? In this second volume in her Guenevere trilogy (after Guenevere: Queen of The Summer Country), the popular and prolific Miles injects the familiar tale with poesy and some hoke. Purists will balk at the novel's new age, goddess-worshipping bent, but Miles produces an engrossing if unorthodox read. Her Guenevere is portrayed as a queen born to rule, taught from the cradle that woman is the giver of life, but she falls apart like any serving wench when her knight is in danger. Lancelot here is something of a cipher, but he is given more credit than any of the other men in this epic. Arthur tries his best but doesn't seem the master of himself or his kingdom. Merlin is a fey old man, and he fumbles through his quest, the search for Arthur and Morgan Le Fay's son Mordred. Christianity, in the form of Catholic priests who threaten the sacred isle of Avalon, plays a negative role; the church is challenged by a goddess cult centered around the Lady of the Lake and upheld by Guenevere. Though the religious background is farfetched, the adventures of the knights of the Round Table, the machinations of Morgan Le Fay, and Guenevere's struggle to remain faithful to Arthur, love Lancelot and keep peace in Camelot are engaging. No doubt Miles's fans will be pleased with this lush, feminist take on the English epic. 50,000 first printing; major ad/promo; rights sold in Germany, Holland, Portugal, Spain and the U.K. (July) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Kirkus Reviews
A literate, wonderfully written, alluring tale, the second in a trilogy (after Guenevere: Queen of the Summer Country), offers a subtle feminist interpretation of the Arthurian legends as it continues the story of Guenevere, forced to choose between love and duty for the sake of her kingdom. Luminously evoking the sunny uplands of the Summer Country, the splendors of Camelot, and the dark woods where the evil Morgan lurks, Miles celebrates a woman, a queen in her right, and the equal partner of Arthur. Now in her mid-30s, Guenevere is both a mother mourning the death of her only child and a wife taking the measure of her husband—and finding him, despite his many virtues, flawed. Exercising her prerogative, as hereditary Queen of the Summer Country, to choose her own knights, she has turned in love to Lancelot, the Knight of the Sacred Lake, but she is also loyal to Arthur. As high king, he united the smaller kingdoms to defeat the Saxons, but in turn he is now threatened by jealous knights and the vengeful Morgan, his half-sister. A good but not especially intelligent man, Miles's Arthur was seduced by Morgan and bore him a son, Mordred, the sole heir to the Pendragon dynasty. As Guenevere, accused of murder and witchcraft by the Christians, who scorn the old ways of the goddess, is put on trial, Merlin travels the land in search of Mordred, and Arthur is grievously wounded by a knight serving Morgan. He rallies, but Morgan, whose father was killed by Uther, Arthur's father, is bent on more mischief. A distraught Guenevere sends Lancelot away and, heartbroken, visits the Lady of the Lake, the ruler of Avalon and guardian of the sacred treasures of the goddess. There, sheiscomforted by the Lady's predictions and returns to Camelot, Arthur, and what is to come. The best kind of historical fiction, with characters that ignore the heavy hand of history and instead live their own full and complex lives. A terrific read. First printing of 50,000
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780609606230
  • Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 7/11/2000
  • Series: Guenevere Series , #2
  • Pages: 417
  • Product dimensions: 6.55 (w) x 9.57 (h) x 1.33 (d)

Meet the Author

Rosalind Miles is a well-known and critically acclaimed English novelist, essayist, and broadcaster. Her novels, including Guenevere, Queen of the Summer Country and I, Elizabeth, have been international best-sellers.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

High on its crag, Camelot slumbered in the shining gloom. The owls drowsed in the bell tower, and the round turrets with their pointed roofs, bright pennants, and golden spires hung in the glimmering air. The guard in the lookout shifted himself on his haunches and prepared for an easy watch. On these blessed summer evenings a silver twilight lingered all night long, even in the dead hours, when the Fair Ones walked.

He chuckled softly. The Fair Ones, yes. Well, a June watchman was never short of company. But a wise man learned to look the other way when he felt the Fair Ones near. And they'd surely be abroad tonight, what with the Queen's feast and all.

Thin snatches of sound came fleetingly to his ears, the chant of plainsong rising from far below. His eyes traveled down to the courtyard, where a long building huddled in the shelter of the wall. Through the high mullioned windows, a single light burned brightly in the dark. It was the flame above the altar, the symbol of unfailing hope and prayer.

Hope, was it? They'd need it, all those poor devils down below. The watchman shuddered as he pondered it. Ye Gods, to be down there now, and all night too!

Yet to the men inside the chapel, their night's work was not an ordeal, but a great honor, he knew. He scratched his head, and let his mind roam free. What must it be like, to be made a knight by the Queen?

The Queen — his senses misted with a fleeting memory of white and gold, a drifting shape, a shining smile. A haze of precious thoughts descended on him like a cloud of winged things. To kneel to her, and call yourself her knight, to touch her hand and swear to die forher — yes, any man would thrill to that destiny, that kiss of fate. And all the young men in the chapel had fought for this, chased after it for years. They had valued it above the love of women, above life itself. No matter then what they were going through. Some would endure, some wouldn't, that was all.

And afterward, they'd have a feast to end all feasts. Gods above, he grinned to himself, what the Queen had commanded from far and wide! Wagons full of beer and wine, carts groaning with fresh meat, every home farm raided for miles around. The cooks had been cursing and tearing their hair for weeks as the Queen's orders flew like arrows from her high tower. "Nothing but the best! There are queens and kings expected, and all our people from here and far away. Above all we must honor our new-made knights."

The new knights.

Well, their honor would be dearly bought.

With a sigh, he turned his eyes down again to pray for the sufferers below.

Inside the chapel the air was misty and cool. The young knight swayed on his knees and lifted unseeing eyes. High on the wall, the Round Table hung suspended above the stout trestles that supported it when it was in use. The great circle gleamed with its own light like the face of the moon. The knight fixed his gaze on it and tried to drag his mind back from wandering in some lost realm of pain. Dear Lady, Queen of Heaven, bless my vigil, he prayed humbly. Let me not faint, let me not disgrace my newfound honor and Your sacred name.

At the back of the church the Master of the Novices viewed him sardonically, and echoed his prayer. Folding his arms, he leaned his back against the damp chill of the chapel wall, and surveyed the kneeling rows facing the altar, all silent now, and gray-faced like old men. They were all the same, these young knights-in-the-making, on fire to be the best in the land. But after the first hour on their knees on the cold stone, even the strongest was praying to survive.

They could lie down, of course. Every one of the twenty young men kneeling now in prayer would spend some part of the hours between dusk and dawn prostrate before the altar, arms outstretched to form the sign of the Cross. After the first hour or two, when the stones they knelt on felt like knives of fire, the weaker vessels would fall on their faces and remain there all night long. Others would repeatedly struggle to remain upright, till the bell rang for first light.

The Novice Master smiled coldly to himself. Already he could tell which of them would fall, and even when. And he could tell too, from this simple fact, those who would make good knights, and who would not. And most would not. His eye passed carefully over their ranks. He was too old a hand at knight-making to sigh over young men's frailties and lost hopes. But every year at this time he remembered how ardently the new knights all embarked, and how few were destined to survive the course. Some would perish cleanly on the point of a lance or sword, often on their first outing from the court, as they sought the deeds of daring that would make their name. Others faced a messier, crueler end, the long slow death of hope and faith, as they measured themselves year by year against the dreams they once had had, and found themselves further back than when they had begun.

These would be the ones who had fallen on their faces at the first trial of strength. He could smell it on them now, the stink of fear and failure, the terror of a little pain. The Novice Master sucked his teeth, and rocked back on his heels. So many were called to knighthood, and so few would prove to be knights of any worth.

Take the Orkney princes now —

With a frisson of unease, he surveyed the three mighty forms shoulder to shoulder at the front of the church, still rock solid on their knees. Not one of them would faint; he would take money on that. They had no fear of pain. And as nephews of King Arthur, they would surely be loyal enough. Loyal, tough, and brave. So what was it about the three sons of King Lot that made him wish they were not among his charges, not destined to become knights of the Round Table when the night was done?

Tenderly he explored the thought like a fresh wound. Sir Gawain had been the King's most faithful knight from the first, rough-hewn and pugnacious, yes, but as true as they came. Why then should his three younger brothers fail? Each of them was as big as Gawain, and as useful in a fight. But none would shape up like Gawain, there was no hope of that.

Yet every year there was one who gave him hope. His eyes returned to the frail youth he had seen before. Mador, it was, yes, Mador of the Meads. Young Mador would not fail.

With grudging approval the older man eyed the slight figure on its knees before the altar, rigid with terror, transcendent with desire. He was a good lad, Mador was, and no mistake. His brother showed promise too, holding on at Mador's side so grimly that he would swoon with agony sooner than give in. They were good lads both, Mador and Patrise. But Mador had felt the flame, he had the edge.

And he would make a perfect knight in time.

The Novice Master sighed. If —

If the lad survived the night with honor, according to his own high desire —

If he did not lose his head for love, and forget tournaments and feats of arms —

If he could find a worthy knight to follow, one like Sir Lancelot, not a rough warrior like Sir Gawain, or a cynic like Sir Kay —

Lancelot —

The Novice Master sighed now in earnest, and deeper than he knew. Did anyone in the world know where Lancelot was, and when he would return?

Patrise! Don't fail, don't fall, hold on!

The young knight Mador leaned sideways to take the weight of his brother's swaying body, and tried urgently to drop the thought into his mind: Hold on, Patrise, hold on. Patrise stirred and braced himself, and shot back a glance of grateful love. I will, brother, I will. The comforting recognition passed between them: not long now.

Mador closed his eyes and looked out through the thin flesh of his lids. He had discovered a while ago that he could see better that way. Truly it was the best way to see; in fact it was the only way to see her at all.

And there she was, dazzling his eyes as always, filling his soul with steel. She was all that any knight could hope to worship and adore. And now she was appearing to him in the dim chapel, shining for him, floating below the great Round Table of the Goddess where tomorrow her chosen knights would sit.

The knights of the Queen.

He swayed on his knees, drunk with ecstasy. Guenevere, his soul chanted, Guenevere the Queen. Every man here would give his life for her, if he could die in the light of her smile. But how could he dream of the Queen's favor, when he had done nothing to deserve her regard? How to be worthy? Mador groaned to himself. How to live up to her knight that was gone?

For a moment Mador's faith faltered, and his proud heart quailed. No man could surpass Lancelot, any more than another woman could hope to outdo Guenevere herself. They both seemed to have lived a thousand lives before this, when at last they came into their own. Mador's soul shrank further into itself. Lancelot was the best knight in the world, and would always be.

But any man could become better than nature had made him at the start, Mador reasoned humbly in the breaks between his fervent, wandering prayers. Another man could not be Lancelot. But he could try to emulate the knight the Queen loved. Loved so much, it was said, that he had had to go away. And it was certain he had gone, but none knew where, or when he could return.

But here or afar, Sir Lancelot was the star by which every young man set his course. Lancelot would not fail, and neither must he. Yielding again to the passion of his pain, Mador floated out of himself, above the fragile body kneeling on the stones. His spirit soared with the chanting of his soul: Guenevere my lady. Guenevere the Queen.

Copyright 2001 by Rosalind Miles
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Table of Contents

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Reading Group Guide

1. The Guenevere Trilogy
The pervasive subtext of the Arthurian legend tells the story of Christianity's hostile attack on an older, female-centered religion. In fact, the Christians are as much Guenevere's enemies as is Morgan, if not more so, as they attempt to destroy the succession of queens and usurp Avalon's sacred relics for their own use. How does this underlying battle affect your reading of the story? Does Miles do a good job of setting the historical record straight? Why or why not? What do you make of the Lady?

2. Throughout the Trilogy, we watch the fascinating and terrifying development of Morgan's character: the defenseless, frightened creature sobbing in Arthur's arms; the evil, hypererotic seductress; the havoc-wreaking shape-shifter, who appears at various times as a cat, a raven, a snake, a murderous knight, and a nefarious nun; and the bodiless, tormented spirit hovering in the trees, endlessly torturing Merlin. Are you ever able to sympathize with Morgan? Which is her most frightening guise? Are you able to accept her radical transformation at the end?

3. Greed is a powerful motivating force for many characters in the story. The Abbess Placida covets an authoritative position at Canterbury; Sylvester lusts for Arthur's soul and Avalon's treasures; Malgaunt wants control over Guenevere; Mordred wants to be king; Agravain wants undue power and recognition; Merlin wants his Pendragon bloodline to rule the world. Is Arthur greedy? Is Guenevere? Is greed a punishable offense in the universe of this story?

4. The theme of children separated from their parents seems to run throughout this story: Morgan and Morgause are wrested fromIgraine; Arthur is taken from Igraine and Uther; Amir is lost by Guenevere and Arthur; Mordred is removed from Morgan; and Galahad is hidden from Lancelot. How do these separations, some more painful than others, mold each character? Why are they necessary? Do you think this theme symbolizes a larger issue?

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 9 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 1, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Classic romance the way it was meant to be!

    This is the second book in the Guenevere trilogy and I have to say it is as good as the first. Actually, it is a continuation of the story from the first book as if there was no separation. The story of Guenevere, Arthur, and Lancelot is a classic - no one can dispute that - what makes this book so fascinating is the depth it gives to the characters. Rather than the surface problems we know the characters face, we see the motivation behind the actions and understand and sympathize with them. <BR/><BR/>Obviously, this story is a romance, but not in the sense that everyone is tumbling into bed willy nilly but the gestures and actions that the characters show us let us know that they are in love. It is every womans dream to be loved the way Guenevere is loved, both by Arthur and Lancelot. Who doesn't dream of a knight saving their queen from a torturous death? <BR/><BR/>If you're looking for something to make you experience romance (and not just lust) the way it was meant to be felt, read these books.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 15, 2006

    I can't believe it's over!

    This book was amazing, Mrs. Miles really defined what a good historical fiction should be. I felt like these characters were my family. After i finished this book i couldn't believe it was over! I can't wait to read this trilogy agian. It is packed with action, drama, romance, heartbreak, suspence, and passion. Everything i ever wanted from a novel.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 18, 2005

    Guenevere Trilogy

    I just recently discovered this series of books but I am so glad I did! I love the story and the way it is told through the eyes of Guenevere is really fascinating. It will keep you intrigued.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 16, 2003

    A Nice Break from the Ordinary

    First and foremost, thank you Ms. Miles for delivering a very good story with no profanity and very little sex. The characters are vividly portrayed, both good and evil. Time moves swiftly in the story, as only pivotal events are explored. Finally, the struggle between Goddess worship and Christianity is intriguing, especially the inter-faith marriage of Guenever and Arthur. As an aside, to call this story a "feminist" version of Arthurian legend is an understatement. Guenevere condemns Arthur for his affair with Morgan, even with the belief that he was "under Morgan's evil spell". However, she chooses to have an affair with Lancelot of her own free will and justifies it as her Goddess-given right. That's a hard pill to swallow in today's equality minded society.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 4, 2002

    Awsome, one of the best

    One of the best books I ever read. I still have to read the other one and I bet it will be just as good. I highly recomend it. The first was good and the secong one is really good too. It gives a new twist to the Arthurian Legend.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 11, 2013

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 5, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 18, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 27, 2008

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