Feedback Friday [13]: Gwendolyn’s Sword, by E. A. Haltom

Gwendolyn’s Sword, by E. A. Haltom

Description: Cornwall, England, 1193. Eleanor of Aquitaine, the indomitable dowager queen, has ordered all of England onto a war footing while her son King Richard languishes in a German dungeon. When Gwendolyn de Cardinham happens upon mercenaries from Prince John’s rebellion, she draws her sword and defends her home as well as any knight could have. But more of John’s mercenaries are coming, her sister-in-law claims Gwendolyn’s husband has died on crusade, and the local prior has absurdly informed Gwendolyn that King Arthur’s fabled sword is destined to be hers. Self-educated and martially trained, Gwendolyn gave her husband her oath to guard and protect their estate of Penhallam while he fought in the crusade. Gwendolyn travels to London with her constable to present herself to the dowager queen. But Gwendolyn has a secret that could put all of Penhallam—and herself—at risk if the queen discovers it.

Genre: Historical Fiction, Medieval, New Adult

★★★☆☆

3 stars out of 5

I was given a copy by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I have always been a fan of Arthurian legends, although I tend to focus more on the Merlin-based ones, but this was a refreshing change to a lot of books already out there.

In regards to the book as a whole, it certainly has great potential. The first line, for instance, is one of the best that I’ve read in a long while, and I really didn’t want to put it down for my uni classes (I had to though, unfortunately). It certainly got off to a great start, what with finding it hard to hide a broadsword, and having to kill a couple of men, but that’s all in a day’s work for the women of Arthurian times, right? No? Well, Gwyndolyn’s got news for you. The worldbuilding was great, too. While I personally find it hard to concentrate on the complicated last names, it did show clear research, and made the setting all the more believable.

Towards the middle of the book, I did find the pace getting a little slow, and the ending felt a little too rushed, but it seemed to balance out over the whole book, thankfully. Gwyndolyn is certainly not the average medieval lady, which can be almost expected, since her husband is currently off serving King Richard – somehow. I’m never really sure how exactly that happens or what he’s doing, but it’s not particularly important.

Sometimes, though, Gwyndolyn does come across as too naive and innocent, even though she’s apparently only twenty or so. And sure, she’s in an isolated part of England, but that still doesn’t quite seem right. If she’s the one running their estate, I would assume that she knows a lot more on what’s going on through the kingdom than she appears to.

William, her constable (which doesn’t seem like the right word to me, but I’m not an expert on medieval military rankings) was one of my favourite characters. I could totally understand his loyalty to Gwyndolyn, and it was written in a way that made it believable, which is even better. It probably helps that William as a name is also a favourite of mine. I honestly harbour a suspicion that he likes her, but that’s only me being wishful (it could totally happen though, right?) – especially since she seems to be completely loyal to her (mostly absent) husband.

The ending felt a little unfinished to me, which way too many unanswered questions, but I guess it opens it up for a sequel? I’m not sure, but it really didn’t seem like it ended properly. Otherwise, I loved this book, and would go back to re read it any time.

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