In this final installment in the Guenevere trilogy (Knight of the Sacred Lake, 2000, etc.), Miles gives a provocative twist to the search for the Holy Grail—in a beautifully rendered and elegiac tale of betrayal, the passing of the old order, and the constancy of true love.
The principal characters of the Arthurian legend are soon assembled for this last chapter in the history of the Round Table and Camelot, the seat of the ancient matrilineal rulers of the Summer Country. Arthur is frail but as stubborn as ever, Guenevere still pines for Lancelot, and Mordred, Arthur’s son by the vindictive Morgan le Fay, is ready to assume his royal duties. But both Merlin and Guenevere are uneasy—change is in the air, and it threatens not only Arthur and his Knights, but Guenevere, too: the Christians want to end the worship of the Goddess and her followers who live beneath the Lake at Avalon, and Morgan, as always, is bent on revenge. When Lancelot returns unexpectedly from exile, Mordred, Arthur’s putative heir, is rejected by the Seat of Danger at the Round Table, reserved for “the most peerless knight in all the world,” and young Galahad arrives to claim his place. When Galahad, a devout Christian, sets off with Arthur’s blessing, and followed by all the Knights including Lancelot, to find the Holy Grail in Jerusalem, Arthur, ignoring Guenevere’s pleas, decides to build a far-flung Empire like that of Rome. Such hubris leads to the decimation of the Knights, the destruction of the Round Table itself, along with the glories that once were Camelot, as “fate spins its will.” Yet even so, Guenevere, the heroine of this feminist version of the legend, survives a near-burning at the stake, Arthur and Lancelot’s betrayal, and Mordred’s machinations, to find a sweet peace and love again as she rebuilds her kingdom, keeping alive the “golden dream.”
Intellectually satisfying historical fiction that's also immensely entertaining.