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Prelude to Camelot
Prelude to Camelot by Cynthia Breeding 
by Cynthia Breeding
   Inspired glimpse into the early Arthurian days

In PRELUDE TO CAMELOT, Cynthia Breeding looks into the early days of the Arthurian kingdom initially through focused, precise vignettes of the well-known secondary characters from the days of Uther and Ygraine to a look into the youthful days of Arthur, Gwenhwyfar, and Galahad, a man who will later become widely known as Lance for a valiant deed.   Combining meticulous historical detail and an intimate knowledge of the medieval Arthurian source material with a brilliant imagination, Cynthia Breeding brings well-known characters to life in ways that reveal their personalities, loyalties and conflicts with a freshness that will appeal to Arthurian junkies as well as those less familiar with the medieval source material.  The often troubling Uther-Ygraine story finally makes more sense in Cynthia Breeding's account as she allows the reader to see through Ygraine's perspective.  Drawing on her experience in the romance genre, Cynthia Breeding sheds light on the female characters of Arthurian romance in ways many previous accounts have not.  Each and every one has a unique personality and history.  Even Elaine, a character who often appears rather dull to modern women readers now in PRELUDE TO CAMELOT leaps off the page with a new vibrancy.  In Cynthia Breeding's narrative, Gwenhwyfar's early days show a woman who is strong, daring and not afraid to make her own way in a world where women's roles are often narrowly circumscribed.  The wicked characters are delightfully wicked, revealing the personalities and motivations behind the characters whose later actions have familiar consequences.

In PRELUDE TO CAMELOT, Cynthia Breeding takes a step back from the romance genre while also incorporating certain aspects of the romance genre, such as her treatment of the female characters, to give her narrative a flavor that will appeal to women readers looking for a richer glimpse into the Arthurian world.  As the women characters become more fleshed out with their own individuality, so do the men characters and the alliances between characters.  The youthful days of Arthur and Galahad, later called Lance, not only show their development as warriors but as two men with individual talents and self-knowledge.

In PRELUDE TO CAMELOT, Cynthia Breeding tells the story of the happier days of the Arthurian world, when optimism and hope prevail and yet she interweaves an ominous thread that gives the story more power and emotion.  As readers who know what will come to pass both in the Arthurian story itself, and in Cynthia Breeding's particular story of Arthur, Gwenhwyfar and Lancelot, Cynthia Breeding does an excellent job of framing this story to build up to a breathtaking conclusion.

As a lover of Arthurian fiction, this reader has tremendously enjoyed the past works by this author. PRELUDE TO CAMELOT, however, stands out as her best work to date in technical skill as well as imagination.  Quite simply, this work is special and truly inspired.  As the source material for the early days is more limited, the author incorporates more of her unique imaginative voice to the story and the characters.  The vignette style works well with an effortless transition to a more linear narrative as the story unfolds.  As she moves more from romance into the realm of fiction, this work exhibits an even more fine-tuned freedom and precision.  In PRELUDE TO CAMELOT, Cynthia Breeding fans will discover that the author has truly found her niche --- and undoubtedly she will gain new fans with her latest Arthurian tale.  Arthurian lovers new to this author are advised to start with this work, not so much because of Arthurian chronology, but because this work exhibits a new exciting direction in the author's vision.  Brava!

Publisher: Highland Press (May 2009)

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