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on 11 September 2014
I enjoy Arthurian retellings and was looking forward to starting this book, it is however a very disappointing read. I probably should have guessed from the cover art that it was going to be on the trashy side, but after reading the good reviews here and on Goodreads I decided to give it a try. I seem to have read a very different book from everyone else...

Lavinia Collins' author blurb describes her as an Oxford graduate in Medieval Literature and a feminist, both of which surprise me as her writing style is so juvenile (if it weren't for the rather explicit sex scenes, I would have believed I was reading budget YA romance) and our narrator, the "warrior" queen Guinevere, is barely even a protagonist in her own story, let alone a heroine, with scant warring to be found.

The character arc for Guinevere seems to revolve around her decision to take Lancelot as a lover. Collins seems to be trying to make a point about a woman finding her agency with so few life choices available in a man's world. However Guinevere's position as High Queen of all Britain and much of Europe makes this seem shallow and incredibly trivial. Rather than trying to exercise her newfound sense of agency to be an exceptional monarch or leader, the sum total of her emotional - although not social - freedom is to verbalise her want for a lover. In one scene, putting the final nail in the book's feminist cred, Guinevere gets so frustrated by desire she faints and takes to her bed...

Where is this warrior queen I was promised? Boudica she is not.

Speaking of those sex scenes, be forewarned that they comprise about 50% of this short book, with a further 20% spent pre coitus. I'm no prude, but I don't find it good reading when erotica is used in place of actual character and relationship building. Readers are to believe that the strong feelings between Lancelot and Guinevere are such because of love at first sight. I have no problem with love at first sight per se, but it does make for very dull reading, offering no opportunity to understand the characters intimately as they learn and become intimate with each other through dialogue. If someone were to ask me to sum up each character in five words, I would struggle to find one.

These issues, coupled with the almost nonexistent world building of the Camelot/Medieval Britain universe, meant there were many times I felt I was reading a high-school drama, with Arthur as the tough guy with a heart of gold, Guinevere as the alternative chick who wants to "find herself", and Lancelot, the sensitive foreign exchange student who enjoys poetry and really "gets" her; replete with brutish, rapey frat boy older brother, Gawaine; dumb-blonde Isolde, and wolf-in-sheep's-clothing Elaine. Basically, it's medieval Gossip Girl.

Half of the fun of Arthurian legend, to me at least, is the fantasy/magic aspect, but the book's resident woad-wearing pagans, Merlin, Morgan and Nimue, are one-dimensional caricatures that make for rather ridiculous - and barely there - antagonists. And don't even get me started on Guinevere's unrealised pagan religion and "wishing table".

All in all, worse books than this do exist, so if you're in the mood for a quick and easy read with a bit of raunch and no character development beyond resplendent glutes, rippling pectorals and inexplicable *feelings*, give it a try. If, however, you're looking for an intelligent and imaginative retelling of Arthurian legend with a rich story, fleshed out characters and great world-building try The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley; if you've already read that, quit while you're ahead.
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on 7 April 2014
I started this thinking it would be a nice light holiday read but before I knew it I was completely swept up in the story. I was engaged on so many levels - not just the passion and drama of the story but also the depth of the characters and the confident prose. Collins has created a world well-rooted in traditional Arthurian literature, but she is not afraid to look at it with fresh eyes, reinterpreting old stories. In Guinevere I found a refreshingly positive female role model - relatable, strong, and independent, without feeling that the author had created her thus in order to make an overtly feminist point.
Very excited to see where Collins goes next - I have no doubt it will be as exciting, intelligent, and enjoyable as this.
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on 4 March 2014
I picked this book up on a cold wet day and it certainly warmed me up! It is a compelling, engrossing, not to mention steamy, version of the Arthurian legend. It draws the reader through a world of ladies fair and their knights, of witches, magic, love and duty in such a way that it is not surprising it is difficult to put down.

Guinevere is believable and relatable and Collins allows you to see her journey from princess bride to Warrior Queen as a journey of herself as much as circumstance. She captures the essence of being a woman in a way that makes it hard for any reader, male or female, not to relate to her.

Collins style is real, gritty and sensual and I cannot wait for the sequel.
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on 2 March 2014
Very enjoyable indeed, I loved how the writing transports you to another world and inside Guinevere’s thoughts. I hadn’t read anything in this genre before, but I loved this mix of romance and legend. 5 stars. It says the sequel will be released in Spring. Wish it was sooner.
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on 2 April 2014
I loved this so much - I didn't want it to end. The world of Guinevere is captured brilliantly and Ms Collins knows just how to keep the tale moving along. Thank goodness the second volume is out so quickly, and there's a third to come. More please.
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on 15 April 2014
I absolutely LOVED this book! I finished it in 3 days, I simply couldn't put it down! Lavinia Collins is a very talented writer and the story was very absorbing! It is very refreshing to see such a well known legend through the eyes of a strong and confident women! I must admit that whilst reading I wanted to become Guinevere! The book was very uplifting and Inspiring! I can't wait for the next installment!
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on 27 March 2014
A well-written story that remains historically accurate and tells a tale full of adventure, intrigue, scandal and sex. Strong characters, beautifully flowing descriptive prose and an underlying tone of sexual tension all intertwine to make this a fantastic twist on a well-known love story that's both refreshing and entertaining..... can't wait for the second book!
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on 4 March 2014
From the first page this re-imagining of the story of Queen Guinevere grips and draws the reader in. Ms Collins' racy narrative strikes the right note with the modern reader. But she draws effortlessly too on what is clearly a deep and sympathetic knowledge of history and legend. Great to know that there are two more volumes to come.
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When I was first asked to review The Warrior Queen by Lavinia, I was a little put off by the cover, but as soon as I saw the words King Arthur and Lancelot in the synopsis, the cover no longer mattered and I knew I had to read this book.

I love historical novels, I really really do, especially medieval ones and The Warrior Queen has sparked my love of them all over again. The knights of the round table, going into battle, the legends, Arthur, Lancelot. And not only that, it also had the medieval magic of Merlin and ah just loved it!

Guinevere is a strong female character that I instantly liked and The Warrior Queen tells her story of how King Arthur, after winning the battle against her Father demands that she be his bride. You really feel for her as a character and hope that she will be alright. But as I mentioned, she isn't one to cower in the background and do as she is told despite women in that era being subservient to men. And also Arthur doesn't quite turn out to be the man I thought he would be and it pleasantly surprised me.

I managed to get so completely lost in this story. I really felt like I was in Guinevere's shoes and when Lancelot came in on the scene I really was immersed in her world.

At first I was annoyed with the ending, but then I saw on Goodreads that it is a series! I definitely defintiely want to read more about Guinevere and Arthur and Lancelot.

An immersive, pleasantly surprising and enchanting medieval tale that has had me begging for the sequel!
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on 3 March 2014
really enjoyed this book it seems like a great start for a series and kept me engrrossed to the end. its got a good mix of action and romance and some surprisingly sexy bits!! i was hoping it would be a bit darker tbh though it did have a few dark moments
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