Dawnflight by Kim Iverson Headlee

Dawnflight by Kim Iverson Headlee
Publisher: Lucky Bat Books
Genre: Action/Adventure, Historical
Length: Full Length (413 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Poinsettia

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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When I read the description for Dawnflight, I was immediately intrigued by the idea of Gyan, traditionally known as Guinevere, being a warrior rather than a victim. Gyan certainly lived up to my expectations. She is a strong and courageous woman, and although she finds herself in the unenviable position of having to marry for political reasons, she is definitely not a damsel in distress. She is still the warrior and leader she has been trained to be. Even though Gyan wants peace for her clan, she isn’t willing to compromise her character by pretending to be something she’s not. I admire her spirit.

It is abundantly clear that Urien is not the man for Gyan. He is a thoroughly detestable man who treats most people poorly, especially women. However, Urien doesn’t see himself this way and seems genuinely confused when Gyan becomes upset with him. Gyan deluded herself from the beginning that she could ever be with Urien. They were never comfortable around each other and he clearly didn’t respect her or her people. Urien tried to be on his best behavior at first, but he couldn’t hide his true personality for long. His treatment of Gyan is appalling, especially toward the end of the book. I found myself very frustrated with Gyan and her reluctance to walk away from the match. While she has to marry a Brytoni nobleman, she doesn’t have to marry Urien. She still has a choice, and yet Gyan acts as if Urien is her only option even though many of her friends and family try to tell her otherwise. I couldn’t help but wonder if Gyan would recognize just how dangerous Urien is before it is too late.

Arthur is the opposite of Urien in every way. He treats everyone around him with respect, even the people he’s conquered in battle. From the moment Arthur and Gyan meet, the attraction is clear. They are well suited to each other. I could just as easily picture them in a passionate embrace as fighting side by side on the battle field. Unfortunately, their romance is complicated and finding a way to be together won’t be easy.

The characters in Dawnflight are truly compelling, but Ms. Headlee has also created a vivid world for her characters to inhabit. The day to day details Ms. Headlee provides made it easy for me to lose myself in Gyan’s world. I will admit that the pacing did suffer in a few places, but my patience was definitely rewarded as there are plenty of faster paced sections to satisfy readers who love a good battle, whether fought with swords or words.

Readers should also know that Ms. Headlee has provided supplementary material at the back of the book with lists of names, places, and pronunciation guides to some of the more difficult words. I enjoyed reading through these sections and encourage others to do the same. In fact, some readers might want to read these sections before diving in to the tale.

I truly enjoyed reading Dawnflight. Ms. Headlee’s version of the Arthurian legend is unique, and Arthur and Gyan’s romance is timeless. I highly recommend Dawnflight to fans of historical romance. I’m looking forward to reading the second installment in this series very soon.


  1. Oh my heavens, what a delightful surprise to see this terrific review of Dawnflight on your blog, Twitter, and on Amazon today! Thank you so much, and I hope you enjoy a safe and blessed holiday season,
    Kim Headlee
    Stories make us greater.

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