A female warrior, who is a natural leader, stars in this retelling of the King Arthur myth.
Ketelsleger’s (Noble Warrior, 2015) historical fantasy novel returns to a world based loosely on Arthurian Britain for a story of knights, royalty, and political scheming. Detta grows up on a small farm in Fraunc, learning fighting skills and longing to leave home for more exciting destinations. After her mother’s death, she travels with her brother Louie to Bryton, where their older brother has been serving as one of King Aidan’s Knights of the Round Table. Aidan has just been killed, and Bryton is in disarray as his sister Morgana tries to seize power, his estranged wife, Glorianna, claims to be carrying the heir to the throne, and Aidan’s advisers are searching for the late king’s will, which names his intended successor. Detta joins Leonard’s party, quickly solves the mystery of the missing will, and pledges to fight for Victor, the rightful heir. She also develops an immediate attraction to Callum, Aidan’s political adviser, and the two become lovers, though the romance is interrupted by battles, betrayals, and Detta’s imprisonment in Morgana’s dungeon. Although Detta remains loyal to Victor, the race to succeed the king becomes even more complicated when a populist movement begins advocating for Detta to claim the crown. Ketelsleger ably advances the plot, which is easy to follow despite the characters’ concealed loyalties and motivations, and delivers a satisfying resolution to the book’s central conflict. The development of the pseudo-medieval setting is less successful (characters consume chocolate and tea, both later introductions to Europe; private libraries are also anachronistic), and the frequent grammatical errors (plurals created with apostrophes, inconsistent spellings of invented words on a single page, and incorrect pronouns) are distracting.
Will appeal to fans of classic sword-and-king fantasy, especially with its likable lead, but needs additional editing.