Message From The Author
To be a Warrior and a Queen
a new kind of Camelot!
by Laurie Davie
When you open the pages of THE DRAGON QUEEN, prepare to step into another worldCamelot, as youve never seen it before. Alice Borchardts kingdom of possibility is a world of great wonder and horrifying brutality; of savage Saxon pirates raiding villages for the booming Byzantium slave
trade, and the war parties, equally ferocious, who defend their coast; of mighty goddesses and queens who rule the earth, not always gently; of dragons who roam the seas, fantastical beasts, shapeshifters, and lands beyond time.
These are still the Arthurian legends recounted by Geoffrey of Monmouth, Sir Thomas Malory, T. H. White and others, but Borchardts vision is completely different from the usual male-dominated talesthese could more accurately be called Guineverian legends. THE DRAGON QUEEN focuses on, and is narrated by, Guinevere, and is similar in some ways to Marion Zimmer Bradleys more female-centered The Mists of Avalon. But in this, the first of a trilogy, Borchardt gives us an utterly unique vision of Guineveres coming of ageas a tough, clever, magical queen-in-training whos very much a warrior. The orphaned granddaughter of Bodiccia, shes been raised by a Druid, a shapeshifter, a she-wolf, and a mystical Pictish woman, Kyra, rescued from slavers. She needs all that they can teach her, for Merlin, the most powerful Druid of his time, is her enemyand Arthur is her destiny.
What is also astounding about THE DRAGON QUEEN is that for all the marvelous and mystical occurrences, Borchardt is careful to keep the story grounded, concrete, and emotionally accessible: for all their magical power, these are real characters that we can relate to. As she explains, Basically, people are interested in stories about other peopleI always keep that in mind!
Already the author of two historical novels and the Shapeshifter series (The Silver Wolf, Night of the Wolf, The Wolf King), Alice decided to write about Camelot to save a sacred queens story from centuries of misogynist misinterpretation. I always thought Guinevere got a bum rap! she declares.
Traditionally, Guinevere was secondary, merely King Arthurs queen; her passion for the knight Lancelot eclipsed her loyalty to her husband; his strife with Lancelot brought about the disintegration of the Round Table. In earlier books, Guinevere is either wily or weak, a betrayer or a woman besotted by lustone account calls her a snarling bitch, Borchardt notes. (In light of this, the loving and wise she-wolf who suckles and rears Guineverewhom she calls Motherseems an especially delicious irony.)
Borchardt, whos extensively researched ancient Celtic legends and pre-Christian religions, doesnt buy it. The legend of Guinevere was interpreted by male medieval Christian scholars, and they got it wrong, she says in her delightfully down-to-earth drawl. In ancient tribes the king picked his successor, and the queen granted her favors to legitimize him and ensure a tribal confederacy. In drawing Lancelot to her side, she was doing her duty as a sacred queen Arthurian legends are about who had a right to ruleand why.
In Borchardts Brittania, both men and women are warriors. The ancient Briton, she tells us in DRAGON QUEEN, had three identities: his family, his tribe, and his, or for that matter, her, warrior society.they accepted both women and men. How the church hated that, and Uther [Pendragon, Arthurs father] had been more than once the object of sermons by churchmen who wanted him to deprive women of the right to bear arms. But he turned his face away from the idea.more than once the fierce womenhad been the difference between victory and defeat.
Like all of DRAGON QUEEN, this is based on real history and
legend. After all, Alice laughs, quoting Kipling, The female of the species is more deadly than the male. In ancient Greece, she continues, not only men were powerfulwomen had their own set of spiritual powers, their own skills. In pre-Christian religions, relationships between men and women were more symmetrical than in Christianity or Islam. In fact, many of our ideas of ancient society, she says with a grin, come from male wishful thinking.
Though both Borchardt and her sister Anne Rice grew up with a tradition of Southern storytelling, Alice never intended to be a novelist, and worked as a nurse for 30 years. However, then she started working in a hospital where, she says, the staff were just born old. They complained all dayit was an atmosphere of total pessimism, and shed had enough. She thought to herself, I have all the family flaws, lets see if I have any of the family talent! She soon joined a romance writers critique group, where she met Susan Wiggs, whos still a good friend and whose books she greatly admires. The critique group has since disbanded, but the two still exchange calls to bounce ideas off each other.
The second volume of the trilogy, tentatively titled THE WINTER KING, opens with Guinevere in battle, decimating the Saxon pirate bases that rape, pillage, and murder along the coast. Shell also, as she comes of
age, consummate her relationship with Arthur, who is a fascinating character in his own right. We cant waitGuinevere is a warrior queen worth following!
Write to Alice c/o Del Rey, 1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036.
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