The first of a trilogy about openly gay Harold Mage Vanyel, this book is both a fascinating read and very sad. It contains violence and death. There are also love scenes. I recommend it, but some readers may find it disturbing or may be too young to read it.
I highly recommend this and almost all of Lackey's novels about Valdemar, particularly the ones about Vaneyl.
"Gwenhwyfar" is an interesting take on the traditional Arthurian legends and in some ways is more true to the original Welsh stories than the later French ones (although Lancelot, a French addition to the stories, is in this book). The premise is that Arthur is married three different times, to three different women named Gwenhwyfar (the original Welsh spelling of the Anglicized Gwenevere) and the last is our protagonist.
The book portrays Paganism in a positive light and in some ways is a feminist tale about a strong woman, but in other ways it is very disappointing as Gwenhwyfer gives up her calling and her love in order to perform what she thinks is her duty to her family and country.
SPOILER ALERT: This novel has a sad ending, but as it is an Arthurian legend, that's to be expected.
The incest plotline in this book is deeply creepy. I don't recommend reading this book.
I found this book disturbing. The protagonist rescues herself from a forced polygamous marriage to an older man, then has an affair with her teacher. I'm guessing Lackey doesn't understand that even when a student appears to be coming on to a teacher, that the teacher must still act responsibly and not take advantage of the student. The fact that the teacher in this book goes along with it all makes it seem as if Lackey is OK with what is really an abusive or at best manipulative and exploitative situation.
The last of Lackey's trilogy about gay Harold Mage Vanyel, this book is both sad and bittersweet. It is also very violent and so (rightfully) disturbing. I had to skip some of the scarier parts. The end is heartbreaking but I don't think it fits the "Well of Lonliness" trap of gay romance novel endings as Vanyel has sacrificed himself not simply so his true love can become straight but to protect his entire kingdom (making Vanyel quite the hero) and there is the promise that the two men will be together in the afterlife.