Read a full summary of The Guinevere Deception, book #1 in Kiersten White’s Camelot Rising series, right here! This page is full of spoilers, so beware. If you are wondering what happened in The Guinevere Deception, then you are in the right place!
Special thanks to Jen, a new BSR contributor who wrote this great recap! Visit her on Twitter to keep up with her latest news.
***** Everything below is a SPOILER *****
What happened in The Guinevere Deception?
A princess is being escorted from a convent to her future husband by her new lady’s maid, Brangien, and a company of knights. Along the way, they see signs of magic returning to the forest. When the group comes to a river crossing, the princess panics; she has an intense fear of water. She is nearly catatonic when Mordred, a knight, carries her off the ferry.
The group arrives at Camelot, where a crowd welcomes them. Sir Bors introduces the princess to King Arthur as Princess Guinevere of Cameliard, daughter of King Leodegrance. The crowd chants her name while the princess wishes she really was Princess Guinevere.
When Arthur discovers Guinevere’s fear of water, he and Mordred take her on horseback to a secret passage into the city. He reveals Merlin had shown it to him when he first entered Camelot. Mordred reminds the king Merlin’s name is not to be spoken since all magic is banished from the city.
At their wedding, Guinevere pulls a few strands of her hair, ties them in protective knots, and lays them on Arthur’s crown as she pretends to adjust it. Guinevere recalls the true Guinevere is dead and she is pretending to be her to protect Arthur. When they are alone, Arthur asks what her real name is. He knows Merlin sent his daughter to protect him. Guinevere worries she is not prepared and will be discovered as a witch. She uses her knot magic to secure the room, then retires to her bedroom.
The next morning, Guinevere asks Brangien to give her a tour of Camelot, and they end at the arena. Brangien is excited to see the patchwork knight, a mysterious masked knight who wins every fight and then disappears. Guinevere is concerned he is the mysterious threat Merlin warned her of.
Mordred joins them, saying he is also there to watch the patchwork knight. He believes the knight could be dangerous to Arthur because he fights with desperation. Guinevere realizes Mordred thinks she is also a threat. Brangien tells Guinevere if the patchwork knight fights all the knights successfully, he will fight Arthur on the meadows past the lake. This upsets Guinevere greatly. The meadows were reclaimed from the Forest of Blood, and if the patchwork knight were a fey creature, he would have an advantage over Arthur.
Guinevere claims to feel faint and asks Brangien to take her back to the castle. Once Brangien has left, she disguises herself in Brangien’s clothes and makes her way back to the fighting ring so she can follow the patchwork knight. While waiting for him, she sees a suspicious woman in a shawl going to the back door. She stumbles and drops her bag, out of which spills several smooth stones. She follows the patchwork knight to the edge of the city, where he scales down the sheer cliff face.
Later that evening, Guinevere tells Arthur her concerns about the patchwork knight, but Arthur dismisses them. The swords the aspirant knights use in the ring are made of iron, so no magical creatures can wield them.
The next day, Guinevere and Arthur go to the market, and he leaves her with Brangien and Mordred to explore. Guinevere sees a woman carrying stones like the ones she saw the previous night. Two knights, Sir Ector and Sir Kay, invite Guinevere to have ale with them and tell her how they travelled the kingdom as knights-for-hire with Arthur as their page.
Guinevere meets Arthur at the smithies, where she orders iron thread to use in her knot magic. Arthur, called away to meet with a messenger, orders Mordred to take her home. When Mordred takes her hand to guide her through the passage, she feels a spark, but she can’t tell if it’s her touch magic or something else.
Once back at the castle, Guinevere begins tying knots with the iron thread and spelling them with her blood. Guinevere asks Arthur, who has returned from his meeting, to tell her the story of how he defeated the Dark Queen. The Dark Queen controlled the forest, which Merlin fought with fire. When the Dark Queen called on the Lady of the Lake to douse his fire, she sided with Merlin. Arthur killed the queen’s fey knights with Excalibur until only the Dark Queen was left. Merlin didn’t want to kill her, but a stag ran out of the woods and impaled the Dark Queen. Arthur then destroyed her body. When the story’s over, Arthur takes Guinevere around the castle to hide her knots on windows and doors. By the time she’s done, she’s exhausted and sleeps for two days.
When she wakes, Brangien refuses to let her leave the castle, so Guinevere pretends to sleep and sneaks out again in Brangien’s clothes. She goes to the back door of the arena and waits for the patchwork knight, who appears to greet the woman in the shawl. The woman gives the knight a bundle and leaves. The knight removes his helmet, and Guinevere is sad to see his features are human. She still has no idea what the threat against Arthur is. The night isn’t a total waste; she collides with the woman in the shawl in the street and manages to steal one of her stones, which sings with magic.
The next day, Guinevere explores the castle and finds herself in an alcove. Mordred startles her when he comes to the alcove to enjoy some quiet as he eats his lunch. He tells her that while Arthur is gone, he’s left in charge of the city. He would rather be protecting his king. Guinevere reveals she feels lost and unsure of what her role is in Camelot. He invites Guinevere to join him for the afternoon as he presides over the day’s trials, where the woman in the shawl, Rhoslyn, is accused of practicing witchcraft. As punishment, she is banished.
Guinevere follows Rhoslyn as she is escorted out of Camelot. As soon as the soldiers leave Rhoslyn in the woods, six men jump out from the forest and attack her. The patchwork knight appears and defends Rhoslyn. Guinevere realizes she was right to suspect the patchwork knight and the woman in the shawl. They are up to something, and it involves magic.
Guinevere later uses a touch knot to look for magic in Camelot. She reaches out around the city, but when she touches the lake, the home of the Lady of the Lake, she feels nothing. She thinks someone is siphoning the magic for their own purposes, and Guinevere is sure it’s Rhoslyn and the patchwork knight. She continues to search and discovers the magic in Camelot is hidden in seven stones like the ones Rhoslyn was carrying. As she gets ready to seek them out, Brangien tells her the king has sent for her to join him at the border.
On the journey to the border, Mordred tells Guinevere to stop pretending to be someone she isn’t, but Guinevere plays it off as feeling overwhelmed. Mordred reveals to Guinevere that it was Merlin–not Uther Pendragon like Merlin told her–who took over the body of Igraine’s husband to father Arthur, the king Merlin saw Camelot would need.
They reach Arthur’s camp at night. On the ride to meet with King Nechtan, the Pictish king, the next morning, Guinevere secretly ties knots in thread to sow confusion if anyone attacks them. These knots come with a price: They take her vision temporarily. As they sit down to eat with the king, Maleagant, one of Arthur’s former knights, shows up unexpectedly. Mordred escorts Guinevere back to Arthur’s tent. When Arthur returns, he reveals the source of conflict with Maleagant: Arthur was in love with his sister Elaine, who became pregnant. Before they married, Arthur discovered it was a trap set by Maleagant, who planned to assassinate Arthur and rule Camelot through his child. Elaine begged Arthur to show her brother mercy, so he banished Maleagant. Elaine and the baby both died in childbirth.
Worried Maleagant may attack while he is away, Arthur sends most of his knights directly back to Camelot. When Arthur, Guinevere, and the remaining knights are deep in the woods, wolves attack in a cloud of mist. A wolf leaps toward Guinevere, but Tristan fights him off, getting bit in the process. Guinevere can use her cleansing fire magic to heal him, but Arthur forbids it. While everyone else is occupied fighting off another wolf, Guinevere uses her fire magic to burn out the infection in the wound and senses something dark about it. Mordred looks back and sees her perform the magic.
The next morning, as they pack up camp, neither Mordred nor Arthur speak to Guinevere. When they stop to rest, Mordred finds her and says some things are best kept outside the walls. Guinevere realizes he isn’t going to reveal her secret.
As soon as they return to Camelot, Arthur and Mordred leave Guinevere with Brangien and Tristan. Each night, Guinevere falls into a suspiciously deep sleep. She realizes Brangien has been doing knot magic to put her into a deep sleep and feels betrayed. Guinevere gets out of bed and finds Brangien and Tristan trying to scry. When Guinevere compliments her knot spells, Brangien realizes Guinevere has been setting all the spells at the castle doors. Guinevere uses her touch magic to feel Tristan and Brangien’s emotions, realizing they are not a threat to Arthur. Brangien reveals she had been scrying to find Isolde. Guinevere realizes Brangien was the one in love with Isolde, not Tristan.
Guinevere starts to share what she knows about scrying but struggles to remember what fuels water magic. She finally remembers it is the breath of a drowning sacrifice. There is something else she can’t remember, something involving Merlin and the water. Guinevere casts knots to send Brangien dreamwalking to Isolde.
The next day, Guinevere goes for a walk with Dindrane, an important woman in the city, and she brings one of Rhoslyn’s stones in her pocket. She notices the rock heats up and cools as they walk. Eventually, she realizes the stones change temperature to guide someone to a certain place. Dindrane reveals the house they stop in front of belonged to Rhoslyn.
Brangien and Tristan appear with news that Sir Bors is hunting a dragon outside the city. Dragons haven’t been seen in a hundred years, and the news of one now is a bad sign. They were creatures of the Dark Queen, which means Arthur and Camelot are in danger. Guinevere decides to find the dragon herself to discover if it is being controlled by the Dark Queen, and Brangien and Tristan go with her.
When they find the dragon, Guinevere throws a sleeping knot on Sir Bors and talks to the dragon, which allows her to touch it. Using images, the dragon tells Guinevere it is the last dragon. Guinevere does not sense any dark magic or spellwork controlling it, though lately it has felt darkness reaching out to it. Guinevere plants a false memory so Sir Bors would think he had killed the dragon. The dragon flies away.
When Arthur returns home, Guinevere wants to tell him about the dragon but decides not to burden him with it. Arthur invites her on a hunt the next day, after which they will start searching together for Rhoslyn. As she stands, she accidentally knocks Excalibur and feels an endless void of darkness.
At the hunt, Arthur and his knights ride off, while the women and Mordred stay behind. Guinevere invites Brangien to go on a walk with her to pick flowers. A boar charges out of the forest straight at Guinevere. The patchwork knight appears and beheads it. Guinevere touches the carcass and feels the same darkness she felt in Tristan’s wound. The patchwork knight is injured and Guinevere realizes she is a woman. Then a spider bites Guinevere’s arm, and she passes out. She briefly regains consciousness and finds herself surrounded by women who are taking turns sucking the poison from her arm.
When Guinevere wakes, the patchwork knight explains she wanted to see the king hunt, and then Rhoslyn walks in. Guinevere assumes they sent the boar to attack her as a trap, but the women assure her they do not want to harm anyone. Guinevere heals the patchwork knight and promises not to reveal her true identity. When they shake hands, Guinevere senses the patchwork knight is telling the truth, and she asks the knight to accompany her to visit Merlin, whose cabin is only a few hours away. The patchwork knight tells Guinevere her name is Lancelot.
Lancelot and Guinevere arrive at Merlin’s cabin, but it is empty. They explore but are slowed by a magic barrier, so Guinevere uses her dagger to carve an unmaking knot in the air. Merlin appears from the cave just beyond, and Guinevere has a strange feeling she’s been at this cave before. Merlin begs Lancelot to hide, so the knight forces Guinevere behind some rocks, where they watch as water forms into the Lady of the Lake. Guinevere realizes she broke the barrier protecting Merlin. She accuses Merlin of stealing from her and betraying her. Then she forces Merlin back into the cave, collapses the entrance, and disappears.
Guinevere tries to open the cave, but it is completely sealed. She realizes Merlin wasn’t telling the truth about how Excaliber came to Arthur. Lancelot takes her back to the king’s hunting party. When Guinevere tells everyone Lancelot saved her, Arthur offers the knight a tournament as thanks for saving the queen. Arthur and Guinevere return to Arthur’s tent, where she tells him what happened to Merlin. Arthur reveals Merlin didn’t send Guinevere to protect Arthur; he sent Guinevere to Arthur to be protected. He begs her to stay with him, and she agrees. Later, Brangien tells Guinevere when she was attacked by the boar, Mordred was the first to charge into the forest, weaponless, to save her.
The morning of Lancelot’s tournament, Guinevere wants to go with Arthur, but he has already left. Mordred escorts her instead. He says he knows what it is like to wait to be noticed by Arthur, and she deserves to be the focus of someone’s life.
Lancelot must defeat three of Arthur’s knights to earn a place among them. If she defeats all five, she will fight Arthur. She defeats Sir Tristan, Sir George, Sir Gawain, Sir Perceval, and Sir Bors, earning a position as one of Arthur’s knights and recognition as the only knight to ever earn the right to fight Arthur himself.
Arthur, overjoyed to fight in the tournament, draws Excalibur. Instantly, Guinevere is ill and faints. Everyone attributes her collapse to the excitement of watching Arthur fight. On the field, he sheaths Excalibur and picks one of the blunted tournament swords. Arthur and Lancelot battle, and it ends in a tie.
At the celebration afterward, Guinevere goes to a private tent to get away from the noise. Mordred enters, telling her Arthur will never be a good husband and kissing her. Feeling that same spark from when they touched earlier, she finally realizes what she has denied herself by marrying Arthur. But she stops the kiss, and Mordred leaves. A man she doesn’t know enters the tent, and everything goes dark.
The man turns out to be Maleagant, but Guinevere tells him Arthur will sacrifice her to save Camelot. Maleagant reveals his spy has reported Guinevere does not use the ferry in Camelot, so he knows another way into the city exists. He pulls her outside and threatens to throw Guinevere in the river if she won’t reveal the secret passage. He leaves her to think about her options.
Guinevere uses one of Merlin’s hairs, which she’s had twined around a finger since he was sealed in the cave, to dreamwalk to him. She asks him for help, but he says he is unable to. He says she needs to fight as a queen, not as a witch, and that Arthur needs her. Merlin tells her not to look for him again and pushes her out of the dream.
Guinevere asks her guards if she can use the bathroom in privacy, but her guards refuse. One guard leaves, but there’s a shout and a splash. Guinevere throws her full chamber pot in the other guard’s face and runs out to find Lancelot, who had thrown the first guard into the river. She does the same to the second guard and then carries Guinevere on her back across the river.
How did The Guinevere Deception end?
Lancelot reveals Brangien used magic to track her and told Mordred where she was, and the two of them left against Arthur’s orders. Lancelot also reveals she was dismissed by Arthur when her gender was discovered. They race away on Lancelot’s horse, meeting Mordred in the forest. He suggests Guinevere use her magic to wake the trees and let the forest take care of Maleagant because if they kill him, it will be traced back to Arthur. Guinevere reluctantly agrees.
Guinevere cuts her hand and drops blood on the roots of the tree in front of her. The tree wakes and grabs her, sprinkling her blood on the roots of the trees around it. The trees begin attacking them, but Guinevere gets them under control long enough to feed them images of Maleagant and his knights coming to destroy them with iron. They begin to fight Maleagant and his men, and before he dies, Maelagant tells Guinevere what she has awoken will kill men. Then a hand appears from the ground, and Mordred reveals the woman crawling out of the dirt is his grandmother, the Dark Queen.
He explains Arthur had destroyed her body after she had already sent her soul into the ground, where it remained until she could take a new form. He reveals he is the daughter of Morgan le Fay, Arthur’s sister, and the Green Knight, so he is half human and half fey, enabling him to endure the pain caused by iron and her knot spells. Mordred tries to convince Guinevere she should join him in the forest. He asks for her true name, but she cannot remember it. Lancelot starts fighting Mordred so Guinevere can fight the Dark Queen. Mordred disarms Lancelot and says they need to get her out of the forest quickly because his grandmother will kill any human in the forest. Guinevere says she will die too, then, but Mordred tells her she is being obtuse.
Guinevere tries to take over the trees again. Suddenly, she feels sick, and then Excalibur is buried in the tree. The tree promptly dies, followed by all the other trees she had awoken. Arthur pulls his sword free and turns to go after the Dark Queen, but Mordred grabs Guinevere and holds a sword to her neck. Mordred tells Arthur that if he comes any closer with Excalibur, Guinevere will be unmade, so he can either let them both live or let them both die. Arthur puts Excalibur away. The Dark Queen escapes.
Mordred drags Guinevere onto Maleagant’s horse and rides away from Arthur. Mordred tells her she is not who she thinks, and Merlin and Arthur have trapped her in a prison away from her magic because she is too powerful. He tells her magic is life and Excalibur is death, and Camelot will kill her just as Excalibur will. He says she is finally free to be herself and be truly loved. He kisses her, and she feels the spark of him again. Determined not to unite with dark forces and fully aware that going back to Camelot will kill the magic in her eventually, she turns the spark into fire, knocking Mordred off the horse. She rides back to Arthur. She realizes she has made this choice before, but she doesn’t know how or when.
Guinevere tells Arthur she has two conditions for returning to Camelot. He cannot hold her back from the fight against the Dark Queen, and she gets to choose a knight to protect her since Arthur cannot always do it. He agrees, and she chooses Lancelot. The trio ride back to Camelot, and when they arrive, Guinevere is relieved to finally be home.
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