Faithful to the medieval tradition yet also new Nov 21, 2007
Since most readers already know the Camelot story in one fashion or another (both a romance and tragedy), in lieu of a plot summary, I will simply state that Cynthia Breeding's CAMELOT'S DESTINY is faithful to the literary and historical tradition in the most minute details and yet her romance adds psychological details and a carefully recrafting of the details in a new context. Her fictional imagination adds insights merely hinted in the original texts. The Grail Quest, only a hint here in CAMELOT'S DESTINY, finally makes sense within the context of the whole Arthurian story thanks to Cynthia Breeding. If a medieval enthusiast ever wonders what the modern genre of medieval historical romance could add to the medieval literary tradition, CAMELOT'S DESTINY would be a superb example of the importance of historical romance today and the effect it might have on renewing and interest in both historical romance and medieval literature.
Cynthia Breeding incorporates the later literary romance tradition in the true medieval sense of roman arthurien (which translates as Arthurian romance), and adds back into the Arthur story the chronicle tradition and historical and tone of the histories written closer to the actual events. Even better, Cynthia Breeding adds her own fictional imagination to the great Arthur story, allowing fans to see the love, romance, and jealousies that threatened this great king and his realm. By adding the story of the women, the pagan tradition to the Christian one and the details of the personal lives of the Camelot and Avalon world, Arthurian lovers see the real tensions and romance underlying the political world of knights and kings. Cynthia Breeding expands upon the details of the friendship between Arthur and Lancelot, as well as their rivalry, which are there but never fully explicated in the medieval texts. We see Gwenhwyfar as a person and woman beyond her role as queen and the literary courtly traditions surrounding her. The author brings together the whole world of Vivien, Nimue and Avalon in a way that enlightens some of the tensions and loyalties at Camelot. The psychological portraits of Medraut (known as Mordred in some medieval tales) and Galahad add true insights into some of the events surrounding Camelot. For one of the first times, we see maybe a bit of the psychological reasons behind his madness within that motivates him to destroy Camelot. Readers will love Galahad here thanks to Cynthia Breeding. In the Old French grail quest version, Galahad is the perfect spiritual knight but so grating on the nerves. Here he is also spiritual but his relationship to his father adds a giving quality to his Christian calling rather than the sanctimonious preachy perfect beyond human way the Old French cleric wrote him.
Don't expect an idealized Hollywood version of Camelot here. Although these versions are fun to read as well, Cynthia Breeding relies on the actual medieval historical and literary records. Camelot is a world teetering on the brink of darkness and destruction as the Saxon invasion nears. Nevertheless, among this darkness and internal pain within the characters, there is a happy ending that actual feels more whole and encompassing than a simplistic ending could ever be. Can those forced to love through duty somehow find a love of the heart? Here Cynthia Breeding adds that special twist that only modern day historical romance can give back to the medieval tradition, as hearts find wholeness. While remaining faithful to the modern romance genre conventions, Cynthia Breeding still finds a special twist for the ending to the delight of medieval enthusiasts! CAMELOT'S DESTINY is a welcome addition to the Arthurian canon, one that tells the story of tension and love at Camelot from the point of view of not just king, knights and queen but of men and women.