Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Review: Isolde, Queen of the Western Isle by Rosalind Miles (including Weekly Geeks questions)

Book: Isolde, Queen of the Western Isle by Rosalind Miles

Rating: A

Genre: Historical Fiction bordering on Fantasy or maybe it's Fantasy bordering on Historical Fiction

Here's a book I've wanted to read for quite awhile and so when I finally stumbled upon it at the library the other day, I snatched it up and immediately got lost in it. I love this story... a story as tragic and doomed as ever Romeo and Juliet was, or Arthur and Guinevere. A story about two lovers where fate has sealed them together, yet at the same time, doomed them to be forever apart. It all takes place during the King Aurthur times, but in a different part of England.

And now for Weekly Geek questions:

From Bybee: Isolde has a beautiful cover. Is this the same Isolde as in Tristan and Isolde?

Yes, this is most definitely THAT Tristan and Isolde. There's so many versions of this wonderful story. This is Rosalind Miles take on it... part one of a trilogy.

From Maree: Tristan and Isolde looks interesting. Is it historical fiction, or are there fantasy elements?

Funny you'd ask this because I completely felt like I was reading historical fiction.... as if all this really truly happened. Then I had to remember that usually these types of books are classified as fantasy, because of the magical elements that are added, Merlin and his abilities, and their mythical nature, etc. So... to answer the question, I'd guess I'd have to say it's mostly fantasy, but written in such a way as to make you forget that fact.

From Kim: I agree with bybee, Isolde has a gorgeous cover. What made you want to read this book? Is it a genre that you normally read? Is this an author you have read before? Is it historical or fantasy--it looks like it would be a fantasy by its cover. Is it a stand alone or part of a series? Are there strong male and female characters?

I LOVE the story of Tristan and Isolde. It's fascinated me since I read a book called The Enchanted Cup by Dorothy Roberts way back when I was a young teenager. Since then, I've wanted to read, watch, or learn all there is out there about these two characters.

Yes, it's a favorite genre of mine... fantasy bordering on historical fiction as I've decided to dub it today! :)

And yes, I've read this author before. She has a trilogy about King Arthur and Guinevere, which I also enjoyed. (I think I've only read the first two though, can't remember.)

The character of Isolde is a very strong female character. She is wonderful and brave and yet vulnerable too. Tristan is quite strong also, though Isolde outshines him I would say.

From Chris: I've read the first 2 of the Isolde series. Did you think Isolde's mother was over the top?

Ah... yes. Her mother. She is a bit crazy and wild. I'm not sure I "get" her. I think she makes Isolde quite crazy too. I read somewhere, I think the notes in the back of this book even, that there were queens of Ireland just like this... that this promiscuity and brazenness was quite the norm for them.

From Tasses: I have Isolde, Queen of the Western Isle, but haven't read it. How close does it stay to the original or is it a totally different thing?

So, the question here is: what is the original? The stuff Sir Thomas Malory wrote about? It does stay pretty close to that, or to the familiar version of Tristan and Isolde as I know it. Lots more detail of course.

Thanks for the questions everyone!

To sum up: I loved the book and hope to continue the rest of the series eventually.

My question to you all: What other great Tristan and Isolde stories/books/movies do you know of that I for sure should not miss?


  1. There is mention of Isolde in Mists of Avalon. I'm not sure if Marion Zimmer Bradley wrote about their story exclusively though. I should check that out.

    I did love the movie Tristan & Isolde though. Very romantic and sad.

  2. As I read this book, I would sometimes forget and think I was reading a Marion Zimmer Bradley book! I do wonder if she wrote a Tristan book or not.

    I have seen that most recent movie about this story and loved it too.



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