The Excalibur Curse by Kiersten White
While journeying north toward the Dark Queen, Guinevere falls into the hands of her enemies. Behind her are Lancelot, trapped on the other side of the magical barrier they created to protect Camelot, and Arthur, who has been led away from his kingdom, chasing after false promises. But the greatest danger isn’t what lies ahead of Guinevere—it’s what’s been buried inside her.
Vowing to unravel the truth of her past with or without Merlin’s help, Guinevere joins forces with the sorceress Morgana and her son, Mordred—and faces the confusing, forbidden feelings she still harbors for him. When Guinevere makes an agonizing discovery about who she is and how she came to be, she finds herself with an impossible choice: fix a terrible crime, or help prevent war.
Guinevere is determined to set things right, whatever the cost. To defeat a rising evil. To remake a kingdom. To undo the mistakes of the past…even if it means destroying herself.
Guinevere has been a changeling, a witch, a queen—but what does it mean to be just a girl?
DISCLAIMER: I received an eARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Guinevere is at the mercy of Morgana, and she is less certain than ever of how to proceed.
By sealing herself outside of the barrier that protects Camelot, Guinevere fell directly into Morgana’s trap. Now, she rides north toward the clutches of the Dark Queen, cut off from her allies, her magic, and her purpose.
Except not everything is as it seems, and unlikely partnerships open the way for Guinevere to learn more about herself and her murky history. To save Camelot, she will have to push her limits and uncover deeply buried secrets. More than that, she will have to come to terms with who she is. Who she was.
Who she might still be.
After a bit of a slump in The Camelot Betrayal, The Excalibur Curse returns in full force!
At last, the series begins to reach the answers to the questions that have been so compelling, and each scene is a leap towards a pitched conclusion. I struggled somewhat with the second book due to its slow pace and political intrigue facets, but this was more my speed. At last, Guinevere is actively pursuing her history, where she had previously just spun her introspective wheels to the point of frustration, and she no longer steps back to allow fate to sweep over her. This time, Guinevere will do everything in her power for Camelot. This time, she is prepared to defy her instincts and her fears.
And while this new side of Guinevere occasionally frustrates, still somewhat prone to indecision, I enjoy her so, so much more. At her core is impulse driven by compassion, and she is so deeply conscious of others’ wellbeing. She also finds herself far more conscious of personal autonomy as well, and I love the change it brings about. It doesn’t just mean she stands up for herself and is more willing to use her voice. It also means she sets about trying to bring change for all Camelot, to bring support and protection for those people who do not have it under the current laws.
Deeply refreshing too, is her realization of all the ways Arthur is flawed, and the ways he is still good. Though he makes a series of questionable choices, his intent is by and large good. And once he sees the truth of Guinevere, the whole of her, he becomes more receptive to her input in running Camelot and doing right by its people.
Overall, The Excalibur Curse is bursting with outstanding character development, and that’s to say nothing of the intensity of the plot.
“Just because violence shaped you does not make your very existence an act of violence.”
Seeing as this is the third book in a series, I’ll continue to stay quiet on the plot. There’s nothing worse than having a finale spoiled for you!
What I can say, though, is that I am devastated in the very best way about Guinevere’s biggest realizations. Some of the truths she must face shred her sense of self and replace it with soul-crushing misery. She tries so hard to act out of a place of compassion, of duty, and learning that important pieces of her stand directly at odds with that is nearly her undoing.
But she has the unwavering support of her friends. She has their attention, and more importantly, their love in all its forms. I nearly cried, watching the full depth of her relationships with others play out in full on the page. Each connection is complex and imperfect. More than that, though, each connection is a different sort of love. Seeing the difference between Guinevere’s passion, her duty, her family, her love completely wrecked me, and I still need to recover.
Can you blame me, though? An Arthurian retelling that not only builds on the autonomy of its typically neglected female characters, but also pushes their support of one another to the forefront?
And to cap it all off, Guinevere’s somewhat tangled love interests are treated with surprising grace and clarity. Even though the series is over, everything is handled in such a way that you can see what the future of Camelot looks like, can see how these precious bonds will grow in time.
The Excalibur Curse is worth pushing through The Camelot Betrayal.
It provides a truly satisfying conclusion to a series rife with uncertainty. Better still, the love and hope tracing the edges of this installment makes my heart grow at least three sizes. What can I say? I’m a sucker for the power of compassion to elicit change, especially in fantasy settings. And in times like these, we could all use the warm fuzzies, right?
If you’ve gotten this far in the Camelot Rising series, I recommend you finish it. The closure isn’t just worth it.
It’s exactly what Camelot needs.
CW: gambling mentions, violence, child abuse, animal death, nudity, loss of a loved one