Thursday, June 5, 2014

Isolde, Queen of the Western Isle ~ book review

In the golden time of Arthur and Guinevere, the Island of the West shines like an emerald in the sea—one of the last strongholds of Goddess-worship and Mother-right. Isolde is the only daughter and heiress of Ireland’s great ruling queen, a lady as passionate in battle as she is in love. La Belle Isolde, like her mother, is famed for her beauty, but she is a healer instead of a warrior, “of all surgeons, the best among the isles.” A natural peacemaker, Isolde is struggling to save Ireland from a war waged by her dangerously reckless mother. The Queen is influenced by her lover, Sir Marhaus, who urges her to invade neighboring Cornwall and claim it for her own, a foolhardy move Isolde is determined to prevent. But she is unable to stop them. King Mark of Cornwall sends forth his own champion to do battle with the Irish—Sir Tristan of Lyonesse—a young, untested knight with a mysterious past. A member of the Round Table, Tristan has returned to the land of his birth after many years in exile, only to face Ireland’s fiercest champion in combat. When he lies victorious but near death on the field of battle, Tristan knows that his only hope of survival lies to the West. He must be taken to Ireland to be healed, but he must go in disguise—for if the Queen finds out who killed her beloved, he will follow Marhaus into the spirit world. His men smuggle him into the Queen’s fort at Dubh Lein, and beg the princess to save him.

While this story was an interesting take on the story of King Arthur and his knights, I decided to stop reading this book halfway through. This was due to the male characters in the book; every man was portrayed as a lustful human being. Even Merlin had a woman on his mind at some point, but it isn't the thinking of women that I was bothered by. Even from the beginning, we see a man who is definitely having non-marital relations with a queen. While some descriptions were a little troubling, they weren't too bad and, in addition, the reader can tell from the very beginning that this guy was going to be a villain of the story. I enjoyed the sweet romance between the hero and the heroine. But when the hero, once-before admirable in my eyes, has a night with his lady, I had more than enough. I don't care how the ending would turn out, I just know that the book stepped over my boundaries. The romance was not sweet anymore, and the descriptions were getting too graphic. I was actually left feeling disgusted with anyone of the male gender for the next few days.

Another point that was to a lesser extreme - there are certain Christian characters in this book that are shown in a very negative light, while the main characters are all Goddess-worshipers.

Alyianna's rating: 4 out of 10 (interesting story, but the things mentioned above ruined the entire story)

Other reader's ratings (both positive and negative)

Juju (negative)
Tristan and Isolde in this novel seem more like selfish children than star-crossed lovers. They bring most of their troubles upon themselves through pouting and poor decision making. I also couldn't help wondering why it took a love potion to unite these two lovers who were supposedly destined for each other.

Shala Howell (negative)
Childish emotions--too overwrought and changeable. Imagery obvious. Writing veers from painfully bad to barely serviceable. Characters appear to have the emotional capacity of twelve-year-olds. I can't really comment on the story, because I was too busy groaning at the writing to notice if the plot was progressing the way the story of Tristan and Isolde should. 

Sharon (positive)
This story takes place in the time of Arthur and Gwenevere and so reads like a fairytale. Ireland was one of the last places where Goddess-worship and Mother-right disappeared or at least diminished because of Christianity emerging. Rosalind Miles takes these two ideas to their extreme and that is why the book is a light and 'airy-fairy' read. But the age-old story of a princess and her knight is always captivating and this story definitely is. Isolde, the Queen of Ireland's daughter and a renowned healer, first meets Tristan, her knight, when he is brought to her to be saved from near death after having fought Ireland's best champion in combat. His true identity was disguised because the champion he had killed just happened to be her mother, the Queen's, own lover knight and she had sworn revenge. When Tristan recovers he has to return to the safety of Cornwall and his uncle, King Mark's, castle. King Mark decides to bind their lands under one rule by making Isolde his queen. While escorting Isolde to Cornwall on the ship, by a twist of fate they drink an elexir intended for King Mark and Isolde, to create a passion in her for this stranger King, but the effects ensure that the passion is between Tristan and Isolde till death. And so the story unfolds with all the elements of Other-world lore like Merlin being able to take on different shapes to appear before people, and seemingly bottomless pools that open out into caverns where the goddess resides in one of her many forms. And if you are 'hooked' there are two more novels in this trilogy.

You can read more reviews here.

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