Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Reviewer Wesley Britton Suggests You Dive Into This Camelot Tale

TITLE: The Priestess of Camelot: 

SERIES: Prequel to The Heirs to Camelot

AUTHOR: Jacqueline Church Simonds

Publication date ‏ : ‎ September 28, 2018



Reviewed by Dr. Wesley Britton

Reviewer Wesley Britton Suggests You Dive Into This Camelot Tale

I suppose nearly everyone alive has experienced more than one version of the legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table from the songs of Lerner and Loewe in their Camelot to the craziness of Monty Python and the Holy Grail.   In literature, we’ve seen everything from Thomas Malory’s 1485 Le Morte d’Arthur to Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s 1859 Idylls of the King to T.H. White’s 1958  The Once and Future King to my personal favorite, Bernard Cornwell’s earthy Warlord trilogy.

With such a plethora of reworkings of the classic stories, is it possible to give the much revamped canvas any new twists? It seems so. Jacqueline Church Simonds has indeed taken the epic where it hasn’t trodden before. For one key matter, her version of the legend centers on a female lead, Anya, a goddess-worshipping priestess of the Nordic Rus tribes. In Britain, she joins the sisterhood of Avalon, headed by Arthur’s archnemesis, Morgaine.

In time,  Anya travels to Camelot where she falls in love with Merlin and bears him a son. Then, she falls in love with Arthur and also bears him a son. Then, in a magical ritual in a sacred grove,  she has a sort of “immaculate conception” where the goddess impregnates Anya with the fatherless daughter.  Now, that’s a vivid, memorable scene.

Back in the beginning of the tale, Anya is seduced by Morgaine which sets the stage for a series of very erotic encounters.  Malory nor Tennyson nor White ever ventured into this territory but, not having read every modern recasting of the Roundtable saga,  I can’t attest as to whether or not Church Simonds is breaking new ground here.  All I can safely say is that The Priestess of Camelot is not YA material.

To be fair, the book is far more than a series of romances. Anya is a very developed, vividly painted character who becomes a leader in her region, demonstrating her skills by protecting her neighbors in a time where Christianity is doing its best to quash goddess worship.   Because of the visions the goddess occasionally shares with Anya, the priestess sets about making it possible for goddess worship to return to Britain   1,500 years in the future led by her heirs, the descendants of Merlin, Arthur, and the goddess.

So, The Priestess of Camelot sets the stage for Church Simonds’ Heirs to Camelot series including The Midsummer Wife,   The Solstice Bride, and The Mistress of the Rose Moon. All of these titles are available now, so if The Priestess of Camelot grabs your imagination, you can dive into a non-stop trip into a new avenue of Arthurian lore. Maybe you’ll fall in love with Anya yourself. You’d be in good company.



More About the Reviewer

Dr. Wesley Britton, an author in his own right,  reviews regularly for this blog and rBookPleasures.com.

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