In a magnificent retelling of Arthurian legend, redolent with paganism, magic, druids and shape-changers, a young Guinevere comes of ageprotected against Merlins evil intentions by her many guardians.

Merlins goal is to toss out the old ways and adopt Roman customs for the Britons, Saxons and Picts. Hes raising Arthur, Uther Pendragons son, to this end and trying to control Arthurs prophesied future wife.

Merlin wants the young Guinevere in his power or dead, but her guardians succeed in keeping her childhood safe while they train her to be a warrior queen. At 13, she is mightily tested by the ancient gods, by Merlin and by her destiny.

Alice Borchardt is a powerful storyteller with a passionate voice that throbs from every page. Her richly textured narrative is a highly charged emotional read, blending her imagination and legend into a vivid backdrop where her characters live. (Oct., 480 pp., $25.00)

Reviewed by: 
Kelly Rae Cooper