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Reviewed by Leonard William Smuts for Readers' Favorite
The legend of King Arthur continues to provide a delightful tale of life and adventure in a different era. In Guinevere, The Dragon Ring, a modern-day Guinevere visits the Glastonbury Tor on two separate but fateful occasions. As a child, she finds a bracelet adorned with dragons, given to her by a man in strange attire. On a later visit in adulthood, she finds a gold dragon ring, which transports her back to the fifth century and a meeting with the wizard Merlin – the master planner of the events which were to follow. She learns that she is destined to become Arthur’s wife and queen and thereby fulfill an ancient prophecy. Fil Reid paints a vivid picture of the action that takes place in the vacuum created by the withdrawal of the Roman legions from Britain. The land is plagued by civil unrest as local kings vie for position. The death of Arthur’s father, Uthyr, precipitates a meeting of the remaining kings to determine who will assume overall authority. In order to take charge of Britain and restore stability, Arthur and Merlin must outwit their rivals, led by Arthur’s half-brother Cadwy and his other siblings. In this epic, Guinevere from the future must adapt to the medieval past, leaving behind her loved ones to assume the role of queen. She is forced to question her real feelings for Arthur. The dilemma then arises as to whether she can, or even desires, to go back.
There are many different versions of the Arthurian legends, which provide Fil Reid with ample scope to re-tell the story from a new and unique perspective. The Dragon Ring is a masterful description of life in early Britain and its warlords - real or mythical. The primitive agrarian lifestyle, with its lack of basic hygiene and medical care, plus differing moral standards, come as a shock to Guinevere. She has to assess her new role against what she has left behind. These dilemmas are intriguingly portrayed, along with the familiar and colorful characters. The legend of Arthur contains much archetypal material that readers will readily identify. There are kings, queens, wizards, knights, soldiers, and ordinary folk. The more noble aspects of courtly love, chivalry, and defending the weak are contrasted with greed, power, violence, and subterfuge. The story of King Arthur has a timeless quality and its essence has been beautifully captured. Those familiar with the legend will be enthralled by the richness and originality of this version, with all its drama and subtleties. This is the first of a series and the story is far from complete. The follow-up is eagerly anticipated. An original and enjoyable look at a story of which I have never grown tired!