Wales at the waning of Camelot. The High King's star is failing. Guinevere has been unfaithful, Lancelot has killed Gareth, Merlin has disappeared from court and the land is on the edge of breaking up into smaller kingdoms Arthur had bound together. Darkness is about to descend. The tide is turning against the High King. The threat of minor kingdoms devouring each looms.
The opening scene of Deirdre practicing sword play with her brother Rhys gave evidence that here was a somewhat unusual sort of girl for the times. Indeed she is. Deirdre has ambitions beyond being a wife and mother and yearns to go to Camelot. However dreams are not always answered in the way we would wish.
When Deirdre is sent to the court at Degannwy with her sister Nia she is the butt of unkind comments. Reviled by the superstitious for being a twin, and all but accused of being a witch she is spurned by the devout and the jealous. Deirdre's actions are more often than not foolish and wayward. But then she is fourteen, a twin, and always on the outer. Mind you she discovers the attraction of men but her choices don't always seem wise.
Certainly by her unthinking actions she sets herself in peril. Perhaps her father should have had her schooled in acceptable behaviour for young women earlier in order to know the traps she could likely fall into, how innocent actions can be misinterpreted and ruin be a likelihood.
Politics interfere and Deirdre is to return home. Enroute back home to Dinas Emrys she detours to the castle of Din Arth where her knightly infatuation, Einion is. She is attracted to Einion but I must confess there's something about him sets my teeth on edge.
Here her treatment of another young woman, Heledd left a bad taste in my mouth. Her act of vengeance was beneath her--although readily understandable. I guessI don't want my heroines to be spiteful. Even though Deirdre feels sorry about her act--it is too late for Heledd. Sorrow doesn't change what she has orchestrated. Her action is more evidence of her immaturity and thoughtlessness.
Drawn to the horse goddess Rhiannon through an amulet given to her by a crone at the horse fair, Deirdre struggles to hold her Christianity alongside older faiths, especially
in the face of the rise of fanatics. Further discoveries about her mother are unsettling.
Queen Awel requests her help and Deirdre's path is set. 'It was a quest. I could prove myself to all who doubted me and perhaps through this I could find my deliverance.'
Politics and religions clash, myths and love are interwoven, and all entangled in this story of Wales at the fall of Arthur, the High King, with Deirdre in the thick of the action -- from espionage to battles, to thwarting kidnapping plots aided by her friends; Sioned, the dwarf Dewey and the companion of her youth Ronan.
I keep hoping Deirdre will grow into a more considerate and considering person. She seems to tumble from one situation to another and is hard on friendships, although contrite when her temper has cooled.
A NetGalley ARC