Before queenship and Camelot, Guinevere was a priestess of Avalon. She loved another before Arthur, a warrior who would one day betray her.
In the war-torn world of late fifth century Britain, young Guinevere faces a choice: stay with her family to defend her home at Northgallis from the Irish, or go to Avalon to seek help for the horrific visions that haunt her. The Sight calls her to Avalon, where she meets Morgan, a woman of questionable parentage who is destined to become her rival. As Guinevere matures to womanhood, she gains the powers of a priestess, and falls in love with a man who will be both her deepest love and her greatest mistake.
Just when Guinevere is able to envision a future in Avalon, tragedy forces her back home, into a world she barely recognizes, one in which her pagan faith, outspokenness, and proficiency in the magical and military arts are liabilities. When a chance reunion with her lover leads to disaster, she is cast out of Northgallis and into an uncertain future. As a new High King comes to power, Guinevere must navigate a world of political intrigue where unmarried women are valuable commodities and seemingly innocent actions can have life-altering consequences.
You may think you know the story of Guinevere, but you’ve never heard it like this: in her own words. Listen and you will hear the true story of Camelot and its queen.
Fans of Arthurian legend and the Mists of Avalon will love Daughter of Destiny, the first book in a historical fantasy trilogy that gives Guinevere back her voice and traces her life from an uncertain eleven year old girl to a wise queen in her fifth decade of life.
Telling an Age-Old Story From a Fresh Perspective
by Nicole Evelina
Time and time again, I’m asked, “Why Arthurian legend? There’s so much of it, why do you think yours is any different? What makes your book unique?”
For one, I’m telling the story from Guinevere’s point of view, whereas Morgan has been the popular heroine ever since The Mists of Avalon. I’m certainly not the first author to tell the story of Guinevere–Persia Woolley, Nancy McKenzie, Rosalind Miles, and Sharan Newman are but a few who have taken on her story in the last twenty years.
My goal as a writer is to give her a complete context, taking you from her youth (the first book begins when she’s eleven through her old age and showing you the reasons behind her actions, which were not just the lust and whim played up by Hollywood and mostly male authors with an agenda to advance. In my books, her situation piles upon itself, thrusting her into circumstances she never desired nor could see foresee. My Guinevere is no saint, but neither is she the she-devil made famous for her infidelity alone. In some cases, her stubbornness and pride brought about the famous events we all know, but there are cases when she was driven to make choices as a result of the actions of others. Like so many of us, she is torn between what she wishes her life to be and the duty she feels pressed upon her from her family and her world.
Other ways in which my novel differs from past interpretations:
1. Guinevere is not the fading flower of medieval legend. My Guinevere is a sword-wielding priestess born into the war-torn world of late fifth century Britain. Descended from a Celtic mother born to lead the Votadini tribe and a Roman father, she is a woman of her own mind who takes action to shape her destiny. She is smart, with a stubborn streak and a habit of speaking her mind, which often gets her into trouble.
2. Guinevere is a priestess, a role traditionally ascribed to Morgan. She has the gift of the sight, but she cannot see the future. Rather, she can see things which are happening in the present at a great distance from her. So for all her magic and gifts, she is as blind to her fate as the rest of us.
3. Guinevere loves someone else before King Arthur. In fact, you won’t see Arthur at all until the last 15-20% of this book. As far as I am aware, I’m the first person to pair Guinevere with this particular man, and I didn’t do it lightly. There is a mythological precedent for my choice, which you’ll see played out in the second book of this series (Camelot’s Queen, out April 12).
So yes, Guinevere’s story has been told before, but each one of us tells her life differently, with a different purpose and different filter as we come to a universal tale with unique life experiences, cultural pressures, and viewpoints. We are all products of our own generation and time. While being careful not to stray too far from history (lucky for me, the Celts are known for their strong women), I offer my series as a 21st century woman’s interpretation of the timeless legend, a telling of “truth” that lets Guinevere speak for herself.
What parts of the Arthurian story are your favorite? What do you like or dislike about what I’ve said about my Guinevere? What intrigues you? What are you hoping to see? Any guesses as to who her lover might be?
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Daughter of Destiny
About the Author:
Nicole Evelina is St. Louis-born historical fiction and romantic comedy writer. Her first four books are coming out in 2016:
1. Daughter of Destiny (January 1 – This is the first book of an Arthurian legend trilogy that tells Guinevere’s life story from her point of view)
2. Camelot’s Queen (March 23 – The second book in the trilogy)
3. Been Searching for You (May 23 – a contemporary romantic comedy that won in the single title romance category of the 2015 Great Expectations Contest (sponsored by North Texas RWA) and the 2015 Gold Rose Contest (sponsored by Portland RWA) and is a finalist in five others.
4. Madame Presidentess (July 25 – Historical fiction about 19th century American Presidential candidate Victoria Woodhull, the first American woman to run for President)
She hopes to have the final book in Guinevere’s Tale available in late 2016 or early 2017.
Nicole is a member of and book reviewer for the Historical Novel Society, and Sirens, a group supporting female fantasy authors, as well as a member of the Romance Writers of America, Women Fiction Writers Association, the St. Louis Writer’s Guild, Women Writing the West and the Alliance of Independent Authors.
She is one of only six authors who completed the first week-long writing intensive taught by #1 New York Times bestselling author Deborah Harkness in 2014. Nicole has traveled to England twice to research the Guinevere trilogy, where she consulted with internationally acclaimed author and historian Geoffrey Ashe, as well as Arthurian/Glastonbury expert Jaime George, the man who helped Marion Zimmer Bradley research The Mists of Avalon.
Her website/blog is http://nicoleevelina.com and she can be found on Twitter as well as on Pinterest, Facebook, Goodreads, Instagram and Tumblr.
Daughter of Destiny is on a blog tour!