The Maiden of White Hands

by Rosalind Miles

Reviewed by Coral

Isolde's mother has died, leaving her Queen of Ireland as well as Queen of Cornwall. But delays in her trip to Ireland may cost her the throne, as a movement of knights tries to rally against the rule of women.

Problems are brewing in Cornwall as well, as Andred steps up his game to discredit his cousin Tristan in the eyes of their uncle, King Mark, and catch the lovers in an intimate moment.

And in France, another Isolde, known as Blanche, longs for the day when her knight will come. Despite all of her father and brother's effort at convincing her otherwise, she will only give herself to one man: Tristan.

There's really no subtlety in this series at all. The author certainly makes it clear the characters we're meant to hate and doesn't waste any words/time in trying to make them anything but one-dimensional villains.

The whole Ireland plot was poorly handled. It was being built up as if it were an integral part of the book only to be quickly resolved, over and done with by the mid-point. All the more page space to devote to Isolde and Tristan's endless romance!

I usually have a problem with the romantic subplots of books or movies because to me, for the most, they're not executed properly. Which is the whole problem with these novels as well. Isolde and Tristan have been together, secretly, for 10 years and yet Tristan has so little faith in their love that he is so easily led astray?

I also really don't understand all of the hate heaped on Mark. He didn't force Isolde to marry him. He asked and she said yes because she was feeling hurt and betrayed. He's never once forced himself on her. He may not be the best or smartest king, but I haven't really read anything that would make me think he's a bad king who abuses either his power or his people. He likes to drink and hunt, but so do a lot of people, and he hasn't been written as a violent drunk. It's also a little hypocritical of Isolde to get bent out of sorts about Mark cheating on her when she's been cheating on him for just as long.

I know that, historically it's happened - King Richard the Lionheart being king of England without hardly ever being in England - but I just find it weird that Isolde can be Queen of Ireland and Tristan can be King of Lyonesse from another country. At least Ireland sends Isolde people to ask for orders but Tristan never seems to need to do anything as King of Lyonesse.

Blanche is another character that is an annoying, shallow, one-dimensional female character when she could have been so much more.

Grade: F