Historical romance readers will adore this medieval French fantasy by Jennifer Ivy Walker. This story is about a tragic love triangle that ends with the most intriguing hook.
Young Princess Issylte poses a threat to her new stepmother, Queen Morag. The queen takes an instant dislike of the young girl who stands in her way to take over the kingdom. Morag quietly poisons the king, then orders two huntsmen to take her deep in the forest and cut out her heart.
With their help, Issylte escapes and finds shelter with a fairy witch, Maiween. In her cozy cabin in the woods, Maiween protects her young charge and teaches her how to connect with nature and bring out her natural talents for curing the sick and forest magic. Soon, Morag learns of Issylte’s whereabouts, and she’s forced to flee.
Viviane, the high priestess of Avalon and Lady of the Lake gives Issylte shelter, and an opportunity to build on her skills as a gifted healer. There she meets Ronan, a talented and handsome Elven craftsman, who’s forged the Sword Excalibur for King Arthur. In time, the two fall in love.
But when Lancelot brings the young knight Tristan to Avalon for healing, Issylte instantly recognizes the man who came to her in her vision. She knows their souls are connected, but she’s given her heart to another. When Tristan heals, he instantly falls for the young princess and pledges his life to help her win back her kingdom.
The characters and “magical beings” make it a cross between Grimm’s beloved fairy tales and J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings Trilogy.
Trust me, it’s not a regurgitation of them, but rather a cleverly inventive tale with peppered influences of them along with King Arthur and his Knights of the Roundtable throughout. Walker’s writing is not only magical but clean, clever, and riveting. She’s done her homework, and this book emphasizes not only her vast knowledge of the period but her talents for bringing history and fantasy to life.
Images and Book Courtesy of Jennifer Ivy Walker