Unabridged Chick

I'm Audra, a 30-something married lesbian. I love interesting heroines, gorgeous prose, place as character, and the occasional werewolf.
The Dragon's Harp (Era Of Dragons: The Lost Tales Of Gwenhwyfar) - Rachael Pruitt A five book series about Guinevere (or Gwenhwyfar, as she's called in this book) is pretty ambitious but Pruitt's first book is promising. Covering about fourteen years, the novel follows Gwenhwyfar when she's 8 through her early 20s. Pruitt's story is set very firmly in the 6th century world of Wales, and it's dirty and mucky and bloody. This isn't a clean, late medieval-ized version of the Arthurian myth, which I liked immensely. This book reminded me strongly of Marion Zimmer Bradley's The Mists of Avalon, another sprawling, epic re-imagining of the Arthur legend. It's a favorite of mine and so I was a bit apprehensive if I'd be sympathetic to Gwenhwyfar, and thankfully, Pruitt's Gwenhwyfar is miles away from Bradley's. (I suppose she's closer to the Guinevere from the 2004 King Arthur film.) Mixing gritty history and magic, Pruitt's novel had the elements I love in historical fantasy: action and magic, mythological creatures, atmospheric location, huge personalities and big plot drama. I can't attest to the accuracy of her research or depiction of 6th-century life, but there's an epic Author's Note at the end detailing her research for those who care. I was a bit surprised about how often women were involved in violent conflict, but otherwise, I didn't feel as if Gwenhwyfar was exceptionally anachronistic in behavior or manner. Pruitt's description of place was particularly good, very evocative, and despite being unfamiliar with the era, I could easily imagine what life in that fortified castle was like.My only complaint would be the pacing. Clocking in at about 300+ pages, I felt the story could have been a bit tighter -- there were times when I skimmed and I felt some section could have been trimmed -- but otherwise, I ripped through this story. I'm excited for Pruitt's next book, eager to see what happens with Gwenhwyfar. While I'm a bit impatient with multivolume historicals, I do like the idea of having a ton of space to really dig in to the legend, and I'm very curious about how she takes on the well known and well loved characters from Arthurian myth.