Lance of Truth (2012) is the second book in Katherine Roberts‘s four-part story about the daughter of King Arthur Pendragon, and her quest to find the Four Lights (Sword of Light, Lance of Truth, Crown of Dreams and Holy Grail) that might restore her father to life and bring peace to Britain.
Princess Rhianna has lived her whole life on the enchanted isle of Avalon, but after learning of her parentage upon the death of King Arthur, she journeys to the mainland with her friend Elphin in order to claim the throne of Camelot. Having already found Excalibur, the Sword of Light, she now plans to retrieve the Lance of Truth, currently in possession of the disgraced Sir Lancelot.
But Lancelot is himself missing, on a search for Queen Guinevere in the northern lands. Rhianna knows her cousin Mordred is behind her mother’s kidnapping, but the remaining Knights of the Round Table refuse to let her accompany them on their rescue mission. As the heir to the throne and wielder of Excalibur, Rhianna is naturally not going to let this stop her.
The story largely involves Rhianna, squire Cai, fey Elphin and handmaiden Arianrhod as they attempt to outwit Mordred, who demands Excalibur in exchange for Queen Guinevere. But just as Mordred is helped by the spirit of his mother Morgan le Fay, Rhianna is guided by the wizard Merlin, currently trapped in the form of a small hunting hawk.
The PENDRAGON LEGACY books straddle a thin line between a children’s adventure story, in which Rhianna and her band of loyal friends rally against adult supervision in order to save the kingdom, and a much more mature tale that touches on the themes of Arthurian legend, such as death, temptation, sacrifice and the cost of war.
This somewhat uncomfortable blend of tone means that issues such as Lancelot and Guinevere’s love affair are made more “child-friendly,” by establishing that no adultery ever took place. Instead the two only become a couple after the king’s death, and their love had nothing to do with the fall of Camelot (which, in this take, never fell at all).
I was a little disappointed in the depiction of Queen Guinevere, who is rather haughty and imperious instead of wise and kind (as I’ve always imagined her) and far more interested in Lancelot than her long-lost daughter. Rhianna herself is much like she was in the previous book: convinced that she’s right about everything, and for the most part being backed up by the narrative.
As the second book in a series, Lance of Truth is a solid return to the plot and characters of the first. Although it ends with two out of four Lights in Rhianna’s possession, her triumphs feel earned and Roberts throws in a lot of curveballs to keep the reader off-guard (especially in the last chapter)!