amelot lives forever in our memories and in the new historical novel by Rosalind Miles, the third entry in a popular series that began with Queen of the Summer Country and The Knight of the Sacred Lake. Told from Guenevere's perspective, The Child of the Holy Grail concludes the trilogy by chronicling the last fateful years of the House of Pendragon and the end of the mystical Avalon.
A number of books have told this ageless story of chivalry, sorcery, love and regret, and it would be easy to rehash the tale in pedantic fashion. Writing a thoroughly engrossing and engaging story, Miles avoids such a retelling, providing us with a fresh look at the tale, bringing the story and its characters to life.
Queen Guenevere, the last in a long line of female rulers, is increasingly at odds with the Christian church. Even with the adoration and support of her subjects, she must struggle against the changing tide, as Christianity's influence grows in Britain. Considered nothing more than Arthur's concubine and a witch by the church, Guenevere fears the church's power as it spreads through Arthur's court. Working to save her fragile reconciliation with the king and his waning trust in her, Guenevere must also protect Avalon, the sacred island the church so desperately wants to destroy.
Seamlessly weaving together many tales of King Arthur and the Round Table, Miles allows us to see Camelot's unraveling through Guenevere's eyes. We see her visions when Arthur's son Mordred is accepted in the "Siege Perilous," filling the one empty seat at the Round Table reserved for the son of the most peerless knight in the realm. We grow as agitated as Guenevere herself at Arthur's blind trust in the monks' advice and sense her fear of impending doom for the fellowship of the Round Table, of Camelot and of those she loves.
When Arthur and his son meet on that fateful day on the battlefield of the Great Plain, we anguish over the senselessness of the fight but ultimately see that Camelot is no more. Then, like Guenevere, we mourn the end of an era.
In The Child of the Holy Grail, everything old is new again and the prophecy that Arthur only sleeps until he comes again is brought to fruition.
Suzan Herskowitz Singer, author of Wills, Trusts and Estates, reviews from Winchester, Virginia.