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Dawnflight [Paperback]

Kim Headlee
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Feb. 26 2013

Gyanhumara "Gyan" nic Hymar is a Caledonian chieftainess by birth, a warrior and leader of warriors by training, and she is betrothed to Urien map Dumarec, a son of her clan's deadliest enemy, by right of Arthur the Pendragon's conquest of her people. For the sake of peace, Gyan is willing to sacrifice everything...perhaps even her very life, if her foreboding about Urien proves true.

Arthur map Uther is the bastard son of two worlds, Roman by his father and Brytoni by his mother. Denied hereditary rulership by the elders of Chieftainess Ygraine's clan, Arthur has followed Uther's path to become Dux Britanniarum, the Pendragon: supreme commander of the northern Brytoni army. The Caledonians, Scots, Saxons, and Angles keep him too busy to dwell upon his loneliness...most of the time.

When Gyan and Arthur meet, each recognize within the other their soul's mate. The treaty has preserved Gyan's ancient right to marry any man, providing he is a Brytoni nobleman-but Arthur does not qualify. And the ambitious Urien, Arthur's greatest political rival, shall not be so easily denied. If Gyan and Arthur cannot prevent Urien from plunging the Caledonians and Brytons back into war, their love will be doomed to remain unfulfilled forever.


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Review

Chieftainess Gyanhumara (Guinevere) and Urien map Dumarec must marry to form a treaty, per the Pendragon of Brydein (otherwise known as Arthur). However, when Arthur and Gyan fianlly meet sparks fly! Now Arthur tries to find a way to claim Gyan as his own.

***No sexy bed scenes in THIS novel! War with the Scotts and pure adventure only! Lots of sword fights and battle fields. Plots and clever maneuvers mixed with some treason displays this version of the Legend of Guinevere. Guinevere is as much a warrioress as Arthur is the warrior. Watching them together was breathtaking! In my opinion, this one will hit the best seller lists quickly!*** -- Detra Fitch, Huntress Reviews, 6/26/99

Chieftainess Gyanhumara (Guinevere) and Urien map Dumarec must marry to form a treaty, per the Pendragon of Brydein (otherwise known as Arthur). However, when Arthur and Gyan fianlly meet sparks fly! Now Arthur tries to find a way to claim Gyan as his own.

***No sexy bed scenes in THIS novel! War with the Scotts and pure adventure only! Lots of sword fights and battle fields. Plots and clever maneuvers mixed with some treason displays this version of the Legend of Guinevere. Guinevere is as much a warrioress as Arthur is the warrior. Watching them together was breathtaking! In my opinion, this one will hit the best seller lists quickly!*** -- Detra Fitch, Huntress Reviews, 6/26/99

For anyone with more than a causal interest in English history, DAWNFLIGHT is a must read. Ms. Headlee has brought her own interesting style to this new telling of the age-old story of Guinevere and Arthur, and the ancient people from whom most or our modern ethics, religion and laws came from. -- Joann Thompson, Rhapsody Magazine, 8/99

For anyone with more than a causal interest in English history, DAWNFLIGHT is a must read. Ms. Headlee has brought her own interesting style to this new telling of the age-old story of Guinevere and Arthur, and the ancient people from whom most or our modern ethics, religion and laws came from. -- Joann Thompson, Rhapsody Magazine, 8/99

I've always been a fan of the Arthurian legends, and I thought I'd seen them approached in just about every possible way -- That is, until I read Kim Headlee's "Dawnflight - The Legend of Guinevere."

Headlee takes the legendary characters Arthur, Guinevere, and Merlin, among others, and transforms them into believable historic figures. This book tells the story as it actually could have happened -- not behind the shining, pristine walls of mythical Camelot, but in our own world.

At its heart, "Dawnflight" is a love story, but don't let that scare you away. This is no sappy, sentimental romance -- quite the opposite. It is actually a gritty tale of war and conquest, and not all of it is between nations.

Gyanhumara is a Pictish cheiftaness who is bound by a treaty to marry a Brytoni lord and ally her conquered tribe to the Roman Empire. She chooses Urien map Dumarec, one of her people's worst enemies, in hopes of bringing peace. She soon regrets her choice. Some of her misgivings are due to Urien's nature, but most are because she loves another man. She loves a man she once thought she hated above all others -- the conqueror of her people -- Arthur the Pendragon. That love could mean a civil war between Arthur and his arch-rival, yet unsteady ally, Urien.

Headlee says in the notes following the book that she feels Guinevere has gotten a "bad rap" in other tellings of the tale. Headlee intended to represent Guinevere a woman of "true power," and she has indeed succeeded. Chieftaness Gyanhumara is not a simpering lady of the court, nor a traitorous schemer as Guinevere has been portrayed in other versions. Instead she is a warrior-queen, as strong in will as in body.

She refuses to be subjugated by Urien, who obviously feels that no woman is even close to the equal of a man. Despite her revulsion, though, she still fully intends to honor her agreement to marry him. Her sense of duty to her people won't allow her to do otherwise.

The events that follow -- as Arthur and Gyanhumara attempt to come together, despite seemingly the whole world being against them -- puts a whole new face on the classic tale of betrayal that leads ultimately to Arthur's downfall in other adaptations. Definitely food for thought for any fan of the Arthurian legends. This isn't just another re-telling of those same stories. "Dawnflight" will make you re-think all the tales of Guinevere and Arthur you've ever read.

As for the writing itself -- it is superb. Headlee makes you care about her characters, and forget the countless other stories you've read about the same characters. She also has a knack for keeping the reader up past bedtime. The first night, I was able to put the book down, but once the action really started, it became tougher. Headlee has a talent for ending every chapter on a note that makes you say "just one more chapter before bed." Then, before you know it, it's 4 a.m. and you're beginning the final chapter.

On a personal note, this book came along at just the right time for me. When I started it, I was at a point where I didn't think fantasy could excite me anymore. Then, I picked it up. It has been quite a while since I devoured a novel the way I went through this one, and even now, I'm planning on giving it a second reading very soon.

In these days when every fantasy has to be at least a trilogy or more likely a watered-down drawn out saga, it's rare that I look forward to another series of books. In this case, I think "Dawnflight" is just the tip of Excalibur, and there's a lot more to the tale. I look forward to hearing it, and I hope Kim Headlee will stay with them until they're done. -- Fred Phillips, The Bookwyrm, 7/26/99

I've always been a fan of the Arthurian legends, and I thought I'd seen them approached in just about every possible way -- That is, until I read Kim Headlee's "Dawnflight - The Legend of Guinevere."

Headlee takes the legendary characters Arthur, Guinevere, and Merlin, among others, and transforms them into believable historic figures. This book tells the story as it actually could have happened -- not behind the shining, pristine walls of mythical Camelot, but in our own world.

At its heart, "Dawnflight" is a love story, but don't let that scare you away. This is no sappy, sentimental romance -- quite the opposite. It is actually a gritty tale of war and conquest, and not all of it is between nations.

Gyanhumara is a Pictish cheiftaness who is bound by a treaty to marry a Brytoni lord and ally her conquered tribe to the Roman Empire. She chooses Urien map Dumarec, one of her people's worst enemies, in hopes of bringing peace. She soon regrets her choice. Some of her misgivings are due to Urien's nature, but most are because she loves another man. She loves a man she once thought she hated above all others -- the conqueror of her people -- Arthur the Pendragon. That love could mean a civil war between Arthur and his arch-rival, yet unsteady ally, Urien.

Headlee says in the notes following the book that she feels Guinevere has gotten a "bad rap" in other tellings of the tale. Headlee intended to represent Guinevere a woman of "true power," and she has indeed succeeded. Chieftaness Gyanhumara is not a simpering lady of the court, nor a traitorous schemer as Guinevere has been portrayed in other versions. Instead she is a warrior-queen, as strong in will as in body.

She refuses to be subjugated by Urien, who obviously feels that no woman is even close to the equal of a man. Despite her revulsion, though, she still fully intends to honor her agreement to marry him. Her sense of duty to her people won't allow her to do otherwise.

The events that follow -- as Arthur and Gyanhumara attempt to come together, despite seemingly the whole world being against them -- puts a whole new face on the classic tale of betrayal that leads ultimately to Arthur's downfall in other adaptations. Definitely food for thought for any fan of the Arthurian legends. This isn't just another re-telling of those same stories. "Dawnflight" will make you re-think all the tales of Guinevere and Arthur you've ever read.

As for the writing itself -- it is superb. Headlee makes you care about her characters, and forget the countless other stories you've read about the same characters. She also has a knack for keeping the reader up past bedtime. The first night, I was able to put the book down, but once the action really started, it became tougher. Headlee has a talent for ending every chapter on a note that makes you say "just one more chapter before bed." Then, before you know it, it's 4 a.m. and you're beginning the final chapter.

On a personal note, this book came along at just the right time for me. When I started it, I was at a point where I didn't think fantasy could excite me anymore. Then, I picked it up. It has been quite a while since I devoured a novel the way I went through this one, and even now, I'm planning on giving it a second reading very soon.

In these days when every fantasy has to be at least a trilogy or more likely a watered-down drawn out saga, it's rare that I look forward to another series of books. In this case, I think "Dawnflight" is just the tip of Excalibur, and there's a lot more to the tale. I look forward to hearing it, and I hope Kim Headlee will stay with them until they're done. -- Fred Phillips, The Bookwyrm, 7/26/99

Very Highly Recommended. At the Battle of Aberglein, the Roman forces led by Arthur the Pendragon of Brydain defeat the combined armies of Caledonia. Among the defeated is the Chieftain of Argyll, Ogryvan, who forces his fellow Picts to agree to the peace treaty. A clause contained in the pact leads to Ogryvan's son Per serving under Arthur's leadership and his daughter Gyanhumara marrying a Brydain lord of her choice. Since Arthur has not been recognized as a Bryton noble due to his questionable birth, he cannot marry Gyan.

Urien, whose charge won the day at Aberglein, is the leading contender for the hand of Gyan. When they meet, there seems to be an attraction between them. However, Urien despises the warrior ways of his intended bride and plans to tame her. When Gyan meets Arthur, sparks fly. He does not want Gyan to change one iota. Instead, he informs his uncle Merlin that he plans to have Gyan at his side even though it may cause big trouble for the Brydains and the Picts. If she picks her cherished Arthur, civil war will follow. If she selects Urien, he will crush her spirit forever.

Sometimes the rewriting of the Arthur legend leaves fans with a classy romance that has the audience clamoring for more from the author. Kim Headlee provides a heady saga that tells the tale of Guinevere, a character that readers will fully understand. Arthur is also cleverly done as he is part of a Roman-Brydain world at odds with the Picts. The story line of DAWNFLIGHT moves forward with plenty of detail that makes for a fabulous historical romance that begs for more novels from Ms. Headlee. -- Harriet Klausner, Under the Covers Book Reviews, 8/2/99

Very Highly Recommended. At the Battle of Aberglein, the Roman forces led by Arthur the Pendragon of Brydain defeat the combined armies of Caledonia. Among the defeated is the Chieftain of Argyll, Ogryvan, who forces his fellow Picts to agree to the peace treaty. A clause contained in the pact leads to Ogryvan's son Per serving under Arthur's leadership and his daughter Gyanhumara marrying a Brydain lord of her choice. Since Arthur has not been recognized as a Bryton noble due to his questionable birth, he cannot marry Gyan.

Urien, whose charge won the day at Aberglein, is the leading contender for the hand of Gyan. When they meet, there seems to be an attraction between them. However, Urien despises the warrior ways of his intended bride and plans to tame her. When Gyan meets Arthur, sparks fly. He does not want Gyan to change one iota. Instead, he informs his uncle Merlin that he plans to have Gyan at his side even though it may cause big trouble for the Brydains and the Picts. If she picks her cherished Arthur, civil war will follow. If she selects Urien, he will crush her spirit forever.

Sometimes the rewriting of the Arthur legend leaves fans with a classy romance that has the audience clamoring for more from the author. Kim Headlee provides a heady saga that tells the tale of Guinevere, a character that readers will fully understand. Arthur is also cleverly done as he is part of a Roman-Brydain world at odds with the Picts. The story line of DAWNFLIGHT moves forward with plenty of detail that makes for a fabulous historical romance that begs for more novels from Ms. Headlee. -- Harriet Klausner, Under the Covers Book Reviews, 8/2/99 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Author

"And while [they] lived happily ever after, the point is they lived." This line, spoken at the close of 1998's Ever After, literally made me gasp the first time I heard it. Because it summarizes precisely what I try to convey with "Dawnflight" and its sequels. Scholars will argue until the Second Coming about whether Arthur was a mortal or a god, one man or a composite, a king or a soldier, a Christian or a pagan, a southern Celt or a northern one, a native Briton or a Romano-Sarmatian import, and any other arguments they can dream up. My theory is that a folkloric tradition as vast and as inspiring as the Arthurian Legends does not spring up around a mythic god, or a mortal who was universally disliked by his people and merely given good press by his bardic spin-doctors because he was their patron. Therefore, my conclusion about Arthur and Guinevere, their companions and their enemies is: they lived. They fought. They loved. They did the wrong things for the right reasons and the right things for the wrong reasons. They triumphed. They failed. And they learned to overcome failure and the pain of betrayal by forgiving each other--which is perhaps the greatest lesson we can learn from them. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Be Prepared... July 31 2003
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Kim Headlee is clearly a talented writer. The story is interesting, neatly woven, the characters vivid and the approach to the familiar legends rather unique. Guinevere as a warrior "Queen" is not an entirely new concept for fiction, but certainly one that is under-used.
Unfortunately, at times the story seemed to meander into what seemed like an unwelcome lecture on religion rather than an exploration of the true history of the church in those times. I was not convinced that a character struggling to maintain the equality with men that was her birthright if not a human one, would support to the Dark-Age and comparitively patriarchal version of Christianity.
That being said, I glossed over the parts that left a bad taste in my mouth and the story as a whole became very enjoyable. If you read this book prepared for the strong religious bias I'm sure it would be thoroughly satisfying. The rather abrupt end strongly suggests that there is scope for a sequel and I wouldn't be at all adverse to reading it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars At least 4.5! Romantic and adventurous fun! Aug. 10 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Kim Headlee puts a new spin on the Arthurian legends with this exciting book. Borrowing a few key concepts from Norma Lorre Goodrich's truly weird "biography" of Guinevere, Headlee presents us with a bold new imagining of that legendary figure. Gyanhumara is her name, and she is the intelligent, resourceful, and brave chieftainess of Clan Argyll, a Caledonian/Pictish tribe. Her wits are as sharp as her sword as she faces her destiny.
Gyan promises to marry the neighboring lord, Urien, to fulfill the terms of a treaty, but her clan's High Priest warns that a Brytonic chieftain will be her death. Gyan fears her marriage now, but resolves to go through with it. She also seeks the aid of her clan's gods, but when she receives no response, she begins to turn to the Christian god worshipped by her family's Brytonic slaves. (In other words, if you can't stand novels where Christians are allowed to be "good guys", read no further.)
Gyan still keeps her resolution regarding the betrothal even when Urien reveals himself to be a chauvinistic jerk, bent on taming Gyan and breaking her to his will. But her heart is shaken when she meets Arthur Pendragon. Their chemistry is fierce from the start; moreover, he loves her wild courage and has no intention of trying to change her. The two fall in love.
But Gyan knows breaking her betrothal will provoke war with Urien's clan, so she tries to forget Arthur when she goes away to her schooling on the Isle of Maun, after which she plans to marry Urien. There, she meets Arthur's haughty sister Morghe, and also the 12-year-old Angusel, who adores her with a little brother's admiration. When the island is attacked by the Irish, Gyan, Arthur, Urien, Morghe, and Angusel will all be thrown together in the fight to save it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Fresh New Arthurian Perspective Feb. 20 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This book was a wonderful surprise! It is about a different kind of Arthurian Queen. Instead of the compliant, timid Guenevere, in this book we see a Caledonian Chieftainess called Gyanhumara, Gyan for short. She is a trained warrior in her own right whose clan lost a major battle to Arthur of Brydein. The result of this is that according to Arthur's treaty with her clan and his countrymen, she must marry a Brytoni noblemen. She chooses Urien map Dumarec, the son of her clan's worst enemy. Later, she realizes her mistake in choosing Urien, because after she meets Arthur and spars with him in the practice ring swordfighting, she falls in love with her soulmate! A story of twists and turns, it never leaves you bored, but puts you on the edge of your seat wondering what will happen next! I have stayed up later than I planned to reading this book, thinking to myself, just one or two more pages and I will stop for the night. Well, this turned into one or two more chapters! If you enjoy Arthurian "historical novels" you will love this book! It is in no way a mushy romance novel! Hopefully, this will turn into a series or triology!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Someone made it gold July 25 2001
By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAME TOP 10 REVIEWER
Format:Mass Market Paperback
After slogging through the ghastly "Queen of the Summer Country" and the beautiful but rather whiny "Guinevere," I was beginning to wonder if anyone could actually manage a good story, containing a semi-intelligent Queen Guinevere with honor and integrity, a tight plot, and a good writing style. Then I got my hands on a copy of "Dawnflight." Kim Headlee delves into history and humanity to produce a realistic (but not painfully so) story, something that you can envision actually happening.
The story centers around Pictish chieftainess Gyanhumara. When Roman forces defeat the armies of Caledonia (Scotland), Chieftain Ogryvan heads a general signing of a treaty with the Brydain lords - and among the conditions is that Gyanhumara must marry a Brydain noble.
The chief seeker of Gyanhumara's hand is Urien, who finds her attractive and is attractive somewhat himself. However, he is annoyed by the relatively emancipated manner of Gyanhumara, who is as comfy on the battlefield as in a hall full of ladies (more so, I thought). Gyanhumara is disgusted by his plans to tame her down, but in the interest of peace for her people, she agrees.
Then she meets Arthur, the Pendragon. With his questionable background, Arthur is not really acceptable as a potential husband for Gyanhumara, under the treaty. But the moment they meet, they love each other and, importantly, Arthur does not want to change Gyanhumara in any way. He intends to marry his beloved even if it causes conflicts -- but can she choose between her love and spirit, and the uncertain fate of her people?
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Epic!
The story of Arthur and Guinevere told as never before, Dawnflight is epic!

Chieftainess Gyanhumera, leader of Caledonia, is betrothed to ensure peace and strenghten the... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Kim
4.0 out of 5 stars Excitement, Adventure and Love
At first I had a hard time with this book. However, thanks to the guides in the back, I was able to catch on very easily. Awesome for a novice to these style of books. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Dexter's Mommy
1.0 out of 5 stars Forget it
I gave her a chance but this author needs a little more practice. In the end I passed on it. Not worth my time.
Published on June 12 2003
4.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended
In a war ravaged society, alliances are the key to survival. So when Chieftainess Gyanhumara (Guinevere) agrees to marry Urien map Dumarec to form a treaty, Gyan must put her... Read more
Published on April 22 2001 by C. Penn
5.0 out of 5 stars violet's review
This book is really good and got me interested in Arthurian legends from the female perspective. I hope Headlee makes this a series. There is so much left to tell.
Published on June 28 2000 by violet
5.0 out of 5 stars Pure gold!
The proof of the pudding is in the eating they say, and the worth of the story is in the telling. The truth of the events surrounding the Arthurian legend are lost to history, but... Read more
Published on March 19 2000 by Debbie Smetherham
5.0 out of 5 stars A book of mystery, miracles, prophecy and violence.
In a war ravaged society, alliances are the key to survival. So when Chieftainess Gyanhumara (Guinevere) agrees to marry Urien map Dumarec to form a treaty, Gyan must put her... Read more
Published on Feb. 3 2000 by Midwest Book Review
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book from start to finish
I thoroughly enjoyed this book! The tale of Guinevere and Arthur has never been told like this before. Read more
Published on Jan. 24 2000 by E. S. Woodstock
5.0 out of 5 stars A New Twist On An Old Tale
Sit back and prepare yourself to be amazed as first time author Kim Headlee recreates an amazingly believable tale of Arthur and Guinevere in "Dawnflight". Read more
Published on Dec 5 1999 by Kemberlee
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