Dragon Queen: The Tales of Guinevere

Dragon Queen: The Tales of Guinevere

by Alice Borchardt

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Arthur turned and strode toward us. He was magnificent, and I will never forget that, in that moment, I first loved him. And I believe--had I known what the future held for us: all the trouble, torment, battle, and grief of our lives--I still believe that I would have yielded my heart into his keeping as I did then . . .

In a sweeping epic of the imagination, Alice Borchardt enters the wondrous realm of Arthurian legend and makes it her own. The Dragon Queen is the first volume in a trilogy of novels that boldly re-imagines Camelot--and casts Guinevere as a shrewd, strong-willed, magical warrior queen.

Born into a world of terrible strife, where war is constant and weapons are never far from the hands of men or women, Guinevere, daughter of a mighty pagan queen, is a threat to her people and a prize to the dreaded sorcerer Merlin. Sent into hiding, she grows up under the protection of a shapeshifting man-wolf and an ornery Druid. But even on the remote coast of Scotland, where dragons feed and watch over her, she is not safe from the all-seeing High Druid Merlin. He knows the young beauty's destiny, and he will stop at nothing to prevent what has been foretold. For if Guinevere becomes Queen and Arthur, King, they will bring a peace to the land that will leave the power-hungry Merlin a shriveled magician in a weary cloak.

Yet Guinevere possesses power of her own--dazzling power to rival even that of Merlin. Summoned from her home by forces she cannot fathom, she travels from the Underworld to an Otherworld of the Past, at each step calling on ancient powers to aid her way. When young Guinevere proves her mettle to an embarrassed Merlin, even her faithful dragon protectors cannot prevent the evil that the sorcerer rains down. Seeking revenge, Merlin banishes Arthur to a world from which the only escape is death. Now Guinevere must face Merlin's wrath without him--and prove that she is worthy of being Arthur's Queen.

From the glass-roofed Great Hall at Tintigal to the lush garden forts of Wales, Alice Borchardt details the travels of Guinevere in a rich fabric of prose. The Dragon Queen is a novel of great emotional depth, timeless romance, and soul-stirring adventure.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780345449504
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 02/19/2002
Series: Tales of Guinevere , #1
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 480
Sales rank: 656,853
File size: 4 MB

About the Author

Alice Borchardt shared a childhood of storytelling with her sister, Anne Rice, in New Orleans. A professional nurse, she has also nurtured a profound interest in little-known periods of history. She is the author of Devoted, Beguiled, The Silver Wolf, Night of the Wolf, and The Wolf King. She lives in Houston.

Read an Excerpt

Cornwall, England

Tintigal, Year of our Lord 470


Above the fortress, rock frowned down on the two men standing on the deck. “It has never fallen to assault,” the captain told Maeniel.

“This I can believe,” Maeniel said, studying the formidable stone and wood walls at the top.

“Even Caesar did not care to besiege it,” the captain continued. “Or so it is said.”

Though spring had come to the continent, the wind in Britain still had a bite to it, especially the sea wind. Maeniel pulled his mantle more tightly around himself. He knew the captain was eaten alive with curiosity about him and his mission. He had declined to say more than absolutely necessary about it to the man. The people he served needed as much protection as they could get. Not simply from the imperial tax gatherers but also from the barbarian warlords who so willingly served the interests of those who monopolized the remnants of Roman power. The captain probably had friends in every port where the Veneti called. A man now might be hard put to get a letter to Rome within a year, but gossip spread like a brush fire.

“I was surprised when they gave me permission to bring you here,” the captain continued.

“I have business with Vortigen,” Maeniel said.

The captain laughed. “I love the way you say that, as though you were a man stepping out to a fair to purchase a horse. A small matter of business, nothing extraordinary. Vortigen is the high king of Britain, and he seems to know your name. Oh no, my lord Maeniel, nothing unusual about this situation at all. Big doings up there tonight, though. I have been ferrying important people out here all day, one after another. You will be the last. Enjoy yourself at the feast, my lord.”

Maeniel nodded and smiled.

“High king or not, I hope he knows what he’s doing—all those Saxons,” the captain said, spitting the word Saxon.

One of the sailors reached out with a hook and pulled the boat up against the quay, while two others began mooring her fore and aft to iron rings set in the stone.

“No!” the captain shouted. “Don’t. We will sail with the tide. I won’t remain here. Not tonight at any rate.” He looked up at the fortress through narrowed eyes.

The man holding the boat to the dock gave him a puzzled glance. “I thought you enjoyed the king’s hospitality.”

“Not tonight, I won’t,” the captain said. “And don’t ask me any questions about why.”

Maeniel jumped over the gunwales to the stone quay. “You are returning to Gaul, then?” he called back to the captain.


“Come,” the man said. “All this trouble for nothing. We could at least stay the night. We might pick up a cargo.”

“No,” said the captain. “We will be in Vennies by sunrise. I’d prefer it that way.”

A dozen men were at the oars. The mate shrugged and pushed off with the boat hook.

“Put your backs into it!” the captain shouted to the crew. “We will be home by morning. You married men can chase your wives’ lovers out the window and get some sleep. We were paid in gold for this day’s work. Everyone will have a share.”

Then they were gone, drawing away on the evening tide.

Maeniel’s eyes closed. The sea wind brought a mixture of odors to his nostrils: salt, roasting meat, and other savory cooking smells; pitch from the torches being lit on the walls above him; the human odor of infrequently washed bodies living in close quarters on the rock, perspiration and perfume, the diverse odors of linen, silk, and wool. This was going to be an aristocratic gathering.

And something else was borne on the wind to him, something he didn’t want to intrude on his consciousness just now, a warning. Yes, a definite warning. Sometimes humans sense things also. Yes, he’d paid the captain in gold to bring him to Tintigal in the kingdom of Dumnonia, but the man might as well have remained and tried to pick up a cargo. In fact, the captain had not done too badly once Maeniel was in Britain, picking up other travelers along the coast and ferrying them out to the rock. But come nightfall, he began to grow nervous. Maeniel knew the signs very well. The hair on the back of the captain’s neck began to stir, as had Maeniel’s when he first saw the fortress. And the captain didn’t know why any more than Maeniel did. Left to himself, Maeniel the wolf would have cleared out. He wouldn’t have run exactly, but that “not right” feeling, when it wouldn’t leave yet wouldn’t be resolved, was something the wolf wouldn’t have wanted to play around with. But humans—as he was now—with their predetermined appointments and planned meetings left little room for a response to the shadowy awareness that haunted him, that haunted the wolf.

A serving man appeared at his elbow. He bowed. “My lord.” He was responding to Maeniel’s silk woolen tunic and heavy velvet mantle. “My lord, are you here for the feast?”

Maeniel nodded.

“The stairs are to your left. They will bring you to the citadel; but before you go, if you would be so kind, I must have your sword.”

Maeniel felt even more uneasy. He was tempted to say no, but in the growing gloom he saw two indistinct figures behind the serving man and realized they must be part of the king’s guard. “Will I be the only one who must yield up his weapon?”

The servant bowed again. “No, my lord. No one may bring a weapon to the king’s board, not tonight. They will be held in the strong rooms under the fortress and will be returned in the morning. They will all be under guard through the night.”

Maeniel unbuckled his sword belt. “I want to see where you take this,” he said.

The servant smiled, a little bit patronizingly, but said, “Certainly, sir.”

Then his eyes widened slightly at the sight of the hilt. It was wrapped in gold wire. A lot of gold wire, more gold than the servant had ever seen in his life. “It looks old,” he said.

“It is old,” Maeniel answered.

“The hilt—”

“The hilt is nothing. The blade is everything.” So saying, Maeniel drew half its length from the sheath. The torchlight shining down from the ramparts above woke rainbows in the steel.

The two soldiers behind the servant peered over his shoulder to look into the blade, for indeed, they could see their reflections there.

“Only the gods could make such a weapon,” one of them said.

Maeniel looked down at it sadly. “Not the gods but men made and wore it before the Romans came to Gaul. But no matter, please take care of it.” He handed belt, sword, and scabbard to the servant. “My teacher bestowed weapons on me. I cherish them.”

Then he turned and began climbing the stair. The servant walked ahead with the sword, the soldiers behind.

From the stair, Maeniel could look out over the ocean. The sun was only a salmon glow among the purplish-blue clouds on the horizon, but since a feast was in the offing, torches blazed everywhere. The serving man paused before they reached the top.

“The fortress was built in the form of rings, each higher level above but inside the lower.”

Here Maeniel encountered magic. He always seemed to do so when he least expected it. This ring had a broader area of open ground than the others, and it had been turned into a garden. Large square clay pans held food crops, and giant urns housed small trees and shrubs. A waist-high wall surrounded the garden, and the trees and vines flowed from troughs at the edge, hanging down so far that they almost reached the next level. There were roses—many roses—white, yellow, and red. Pomegranates, hazel trees, and berry vines, their long thorny canes draped over the rail. They were not in fruit but in bloom, white flowers scattered like stars among the vines. The clay pans were filled with herbs—rosemary; mints, which will grow anywhere if they have water and sun; pennyroyal; spearmint and the hairy apple mints—onions, leeks, garlic, cabbages, and mustards, their cross-shaped yellow flowers open to the night wind and sea air.

“A garden in the sky,” Maeniel said.

“Yes. Are you then an adept?”

“Adept?” Maeniel said, mystified. “Adept at what?”

“Magic, sir,” the serving man answered, then pointed to the soldiers. They were climbing the last flight of stairs to the inner keep above. “They don’t even know we are not with them, though they will announce your presence to the king. He will thank them for it. He is always polite and will not warn them that they are deceived.

“Most can’t see this garden at all, and those who can only think it is a quaint concept of the high king to keep a few pots of flowers and vegetables near his front door. I will conduct you to the hall of weapons.”

“Yes,” Maeniel said. “Beneath the rose.”

“Behind it,” the serving man corrected, for there were pots of white roses all along the inner wall.

Maeniel saw the wall and the entrance hidden by magic, and he and the serving man—by now Maeniel was sure he was no ordinary servant—stepped into it.

Was it morning or was it evening? He couldn’t be sure, and the wolf did not inform him. The sun was just over the horizon, driving long shafts of light into the mists drifting in the vast hall.

Vast, Maeniel thought. Why vast? The drifting mist was so thick he could barely make out the doorway behind him. Yet he had the sense of enormous empty space, a high roof, and giant windows looking out over a cloud-filled sky, of winds that drove sharp downdrafts, cold and moist, and updrafts, hot and reeking of jungle, forest, and marsh, and a sense of latent lightning hovering just out of being but poised to rend both earth and sky. The mists around him were not fog or dew but clouds drifting over the summer country of an earth below.

“You are no natural man,” the servant said.

“No,” Maeniel answered as the clouds, dark, now bright blue, silver, and bloody with the new—or was it the old?—sun boiled around him. “I am a wolf who is sometimes a man. Tell me, is it twilight or dawn here?”

“There is no here here,” the servant answered, “and it is neither one nor the other, each and both at the same time. Do you wish my master any harm?”

“No. I came in hopes of his help for—”

The servant raised his hand. “I need know nothing more. There are those here who do wish him ill. He has been warned, but he balances the need for peace with the danger they pose. I can do no more than advise caution.” He extended the sword before him. There was a chime as though a great bell had rung. The sword vanished. “It will be returned in two days. Wherever you may be, you will receive it. The blade is warm with the love its maker put in it. His blood went into the molten steel as an offering, making it resistant to any magic but your own. No matter what I do, I cannot retain it here for long. It is yours in more than one sense.”

Seconds later they were both climbing up the steps to Vortigen’s hall.

“Not even the dead can remain long in the halls of the sky,” the servant continued. “Birds alone rule it. That’s why they are sacred to her—she who gave you face and form. She has always had only one name, The Lady.”

They reached the top, and Vortigen’s hall stood before them. When Maeniel turned to look, the servant had gone.

The feasting hall occupied the top of the fortress, a dome of fitted, unmortared stone.

Vitrified, Maeniel thought, a house of glass.

He’d heard of the process but had not seen it before. The walls had originally been made of wood, the dome of sand and other silicates framed within it. A hot controlled burn fused the sand into a mass like obsidian, and when the wood was burned away a glass bubble remained. This was Vortigen’s hall. The exterior and interior walls were polished, with openings drilled for a door and smoke hole in the roof.

It was beautiful.

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Dragon Queen: The Tales of Guinevere 3.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Tales of Guinevere captured my heart and I could not put it down until I reached the end. Days on end I was burried in my book! This novel includes a shapeshifting wolf (those of us who read the silver wolf and the wolf king will realize this is our old friend just in a different time-remember he lives way longer than us humans!), trapped spirits, alternate worlds, magic, love, passion, destiny , fate, a young girl coming into her own, realizing her heritage, becoming a powerful woman, and much much more! This is not a factual history lesson on Author and Guinavere, it is more of a way better story of how it could have began! Read this book and share the experience that I had! You will love this book and cry at the end like I did!!
harstan More than 1 year ago
Descended from the sorcerer queen Bodiccia and born to a powerful pagan practicing mage, She becomes a pawn to fate. Raised by a druid, shapeshifter, and his family, everyone knew she was destined to become queen. Merlin and Igraine (Arthur¿s mother) sought to control her, but her family hid her so she would have time to grow and mature.

At their first meeting, Guinivere knows Arthur is her true love, but she is not ready to be his queen. She escapes Marlin¿s machinations and performs a service for the Goddess Athena. Arthur struggles with the pressures placed on him by his mother and Merlin her lover, but knows he must prove worthy in order for Guinivere to agree to become his queen.

THE DRAGON QUEEN is rich in historical text, but loaded with fantasy species and actions. The deep story line includes some whimsy to soften the epic tale that clearly is on a par with Tarr and Radford. The only drawback is that fans will have to wait for the adventures of Guinivere and Arthur separately and together to continue in the next installment of this three book saga.

Harriet Klausner

Anonymous 29 days ago
The book, The Dragon Queen, is a novel written by Alice Borchardt. It is a superb book that talks about a reimagined guinevere in a dystopian version of the legend of King Arthur. The book is mainly about the struggles of Arthur and Guinevere in the face of an evil Merlin. The book focuses on how Guinevere is unfaltering in the face of adversity. While this theme has been done in many books, The Dragon Queen pulls it off masterfully. The adversities she faces are progressively greater, and they have stakes that keep you interested. From a band of pirates to Dis, the god of the underworld, the tension mounts up as the stakes grow ever higher. This book also looks into the point of view of Arthur who is the child of Merlin’s lover Igrane. He is scorned by his mother and finally finds love in guinevere. However, he is thrown into a strange land where he is tortured by his mother and Merlin. Through sheer willpower and determination, he escapes his pursuers clutches. This also ties into the theme of overcoming adversity and it is done in a way where you can see both characters points of view. It is not cut off and transitions smoothly from each point of view to make a beautiful narrative. Arthur faces greater challenges as Guinevere faces greater challenges and it all forms together to make a great plot and story. The world in which the book takes place is also very developed with there being hostile german tribes and religions. There are different races on the isles and each have their own special part in the plot of the story. Overall, it is a compelling story that is very enjoyable to read. I would recommend reading it if you are into fantasy and the like.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Amazing story
justdandee More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this turn on a topic already done. I'm not closed off to a retelling as long as it's done well. If your going to open this book with a preconceived notion of how you think Camelot should be done than pass this one by. However if your looking for a well told story spiced with magic, dragons, and warriors than I think you will be pleased with this book.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I must say, I love the fantasy and sci-fi genre, and I loved this book. I'm a medievalist, and I really enjoyed the way Borchardt played with the roles in this text. My regret now is that with Borchardt's unfortunate passing, book 3 won't be available. Noooooo!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Lots of books have overtones of Camelot, anymore. Star Wars probably handled it best, so well that few people ever realized it. But Alice Borchardt did it such a poor turn that I nearly threw the book in frustration. First of all, the plot ideas here have already been over used by every other writer at some point. In 'The Dragon Queen,' she tries to compensate by the usual twists--the good guys are bad guys, and so forth. She tries to tell the story from the standpoint of Guenevere, and so has to give her more significance than she ever had. In reality, Guenevere and all of the other characters are utterly bland, swamped in details that aren't in the least pertinent and will probably contribute to one of the most massive headaches you've ever had. Every 'twist' is so predictable you can see it coming more than thirty pages in advance, when you're not skimming so much of the book you're barely reading it at all. It's not even the good kind of predictable where you still feel sated--it's the bad kind where you swear you're going to scream. Do yourself a favor if you want to look for a book about Merlin and Camelot and all of that. Look up James Malroy's series or 'The Mists of Avalon.' You could even watch Star Wars if you want. Just don't pick up The Dragon Queen.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Alice Borchardt presents an interesting take on the Arthur/Guinevere story in The Dragon Queen. Guinevere is the daughter of a Celtic queen. She is hidden from the arch-druid Merlin at an early age and is raised by a druid and family of wolves and werewolves. During the story, she grows into powerful magic and fearlessly confronts every situation that she is thrown into. Merlin and Igraine are cast as evil sorcerers who torment the young Arthur and plot for power. Guinevere and Arthur must navigate the trials that they are thrown into by Merlin and Igraine if they are to win their thrones and be reunited. Borchardt paints a vivid picutre of Britian in the Dark Ages. She has no trouble setting up scenes of legendary castles and fantastic worlds populated with dragons and goddesses. However, the plot often bounces around abruptly, which may leave you confused about which characters you are following. I found myself having to go back and re-read paragraphs and pages until I figured out what was really happening. The dialogue is uneven and several of the characters can't seem to find a consistent voice or personality. The main characters are either near-perfect (Guinevere, Arthur, Maeniel the werewolf) or consummately evil (Merlin, Igraine) with little room in-between. While that isn't a showstopper in a good vs. evil tale, it would be nice to have a character the reader could relate to. Guinevere's many adventures seem to have only one point: to give her more magical victories and allies. Arthur enters the tale about halfway through the book, and he is also launched into several trials. Arthur¿s courage and nobility are showcased during his struggles, but they don't seem to advance the plot. His adventures might acquire more relevance in the sequels. The concepts and twists added to the Arthur legend are fascinating, but because of the inconsistent dialogue and the abrupt transitions I was not able to settle in and enjoy the storyline.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book would of been a good book if I hadn't read some amazing Arthur stories before....it drags on, and lacks stucture...
brjunkie More than 1 year ago
Coming soon.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My name is Guinivere too!
The_BibliophileJM More than 1 year ago
I found myself very unimpressed with Alice Bordhardt's book. The characters were bad and putrid and easy to hate. I guess I could say that the plot was pretty good and well thought out, but only if you can stand a major tearing from the traditional King Author story. I do have to complain about the editing, in there sense that there seems to be none.