The Lady of the Sea

by Rosalind Miles

Reviewed by Coral


With Ireland threatened by the Picts and her marriage to King Mark now unbearable, Isolde has decided to abandon her life at Cornwall to return to protect her home. Unfortunately, it isn't just the new Pictish prince that Isolde will have to contend with, because Mark isn't just about to sit by and let her leave.

Well, at least, that's what the summary on the back of the book would have you believe. In truth, in the book, Mark really didn't seem to care all that much about losing Isolde. And the whole Ireland plot was pretty much handled in the same dismissive fashion as the plot of the last book, leaving the majority of the book spent on Isolde and Tristan's relationship woes.

The main problem, not just with this book but with the entire series, is that I just don't understand the characters.

All of the other characters always say that Mark is such a horrible king, but besides not naming an heir, the author never really shows a concrete example of Mark being a bad king. There's nothing about him diverting money for hunting and depriving his people of food or protection. The whole thing with the Grail quest I didn't get either, because King Arthur wanted Mark to send a knight, so how could following the King's orders be a bad thing?

I still have no idea how Isolde can be so offended about Mark cheating on her when she's doing the same to him. Just because she loves Tristan and Mark no longer loves his mistress (and that came from nowhere for me, because for 2 books he's loved his mistress loyally and all of a sudden, poof, and he doesn't anymore) that means that she's better, or more moral than Mark? Ridiculously hypocritical.

I understand Tristan even less. What has Isolde done to inspire such little trust in him? He suspects her of cheating and abandons her - his supposed true love - at the drop of a hat, that it was bordering on contrived and unbelievable.

Besides the characters, I really don't understand the universe that the book is set in. If the society is mainly a matriarchal one, with ruling queens, then how is Arthur even the high king is this world? It makes no sense.

Grade: F