Of all of the written versions I have seen of the tragic story of Tristan and Isolde, this may have been the one that was truest to the essential story. That essential story is not about how Isolde had Tristan's child, or how Mark almost killed her for adultery, or how Isolde's handmaiden slept with Mark on Isolde's wedding night so he would think he married a virgin. The essential story here is of a love triangle.
We have Tristan, who loves Mark as a father, and goes and braves great danger to get him the beautiful Irish bride who will bring peace to the warring nations. But he also loves Isolde with all of his heart. We have Isolde, who loves Tristan on sight, though she has no idea who he is, and saves him from the poisoned wound he got killing her uncle (not that she knows that.) Yet she, in her marriage to Mark, knows him as a good man and king, and feels a sort of dutiful love towards him. And we have Mark, who loves Tristan and Isolde, and knows that he is old and that these two young lovers perhaps have to be together.
So the love triangle aspect in this book was well played out, as was the sense of a new day coming, and magic leaving the lands of the British. This book marks the start of the dark ages and the conversions to Christianity for England. What I didn't like was the number of times Isolde decides that Tristan can't love her, or doesn't, or that she loves mark instead. She needed to make up her mind! And it all ended so rapidly-which is too bad, because if I was ever going to see a happy ending to this story it would have been in this book, the characters were all so disposed towards making things work.