Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Maid of the White Hands (Tristan and Isolde #2) by Rosalind Miles

Title: The Maid of the White Hands (Tristan and Isolde #2)
Author: Rosalind Miles
Publisher: Broadway Brooks
Pages: 352
Rating: 3/5 Stars

Oh, Tristan and Isolde. There's a reason your legend isn't as well known as Arthur, Guinevere and Lancelot's.


I love Rosalind Miles. Love her. Her writing is evocative, lush, vivid...I could wax poetic with superlatives all day, but suffice it to say I'll read just about anything she writes even if the actual subject matter isn't engaging me as I'd like it to.

And Tristan and Isolde's love story is not engaging me.

The Maid of the White Hands picks up shortly after Isolde, Queen of the Western Isle ends. Isolde has married Mark, King of Cornwall, thus uniting Ireland and England. Tristan is her knight and the two of them are able to carry on their love affair in secret.

Well, sort of in secret.

All of the wrong people seem to know what's going on between the two of them and it puts their happiness as well as their very lives in danger.

When the Queen of Ireland dies, Isolde is called back to her home country and in order to keep up appearances, Tristan stays in England.

These two should never be separated. Seriously, the majority of their problems would go away if they'd just stick together.

A lot of drama unfolds. A lot of political intrigue, presumed betrayal, imprisonment, uprisings, lies and angst goes down in the plot of this book and Tristan and Isolde are apart for most of it. I won't go into a detailed description of the plot, but suffice it to say that Miles throws just about everything she can at these two lovers and it nearly works in destroying them both.

I'm determined to finish this series, but unlike the Guinevere trilogy that I want to read again someday, I won't feel the need to revisit Tristan and Isolde. I just don't like them that much. Isolde is awesome. I do love her. She's strong and fights her own battles. She understands the price that she has to pay for being queen, the things that she has to give up to serve the people that she's sworn to lead.

Tristan, on the other hand, drives me nuts. I understand that nobility and honoring one's promises/word was basically all that these knights had to call their own, but could Tristan be a little less whiny about it? I should take into account that the man is injured or sick through about 80% of this book, and therefore prone to dramatics, I suppose, but still. I don't think it's a good idea for the hero of a sweeping and epic love story to come across as a whiny, weepy, lovesick puppy. Either honor your vows as a knight or honor your vows to Isolde. Pick one and quit all of this quibbling.

I'm going to try to read the third and final book soon because I know that I waited far too long between the first and second.  I will never not recommend Rosalind Miles to people who enjoy excellent writing and epic storytelling, but I doubt that this trilogy will be the one I tell them to try.

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