by Giles Kristian
The legions of Rome are a fading memory. Enemies stalk the fringes of Britain. And Uther Pendragon is dying. Into this fractured and uncertain world the boy is cast, a refugee from fire, murder and betrayal. An outsider whose only companions are a hateful hawk and memories of the lost.
Yet he is gifted, and under the watchful eyes of Merlin and the Lady Nimue he will hone his talents and begin his journey to manhood. He will meet Guinevere, a wild, proud and beautiful girl, herself outcast because of her gift. And he will be dazzled by Arthur, a warrior who carries the hopes of a people like fire in the dark. But these are times of struggle and blood, when even friendship and love seem doomed to fail.
The gods are vanishing beyond the reach of dreams. Treachery and jealousy rule men’s hearts and the fate of Britain itself rests on a sword’s edge.
But the young renegade who left his home in Benoic with just a hunting bird and dreams of revenge is now a lord of war. He is a man loved and hated, admired and feared. A man forsaken but not forgotten. He is Lancelot.
Set in a 5th century Britain besieged by invading bands of Saxons and Franks, Irish and Picts, Giles Kristian’s epic new novel tells – through the warrior’s own words – the story of Lancelot, that most celebrated of all King Arthur’s knights. It is a story ready to be re-imagined for our times.
I was kindly given an e-ARC of the book by NetGalley in return for an honest review.
I have always been fascinated with the Arthurian legend, I guess it had something to do with the fact that I had read a bit of Arthurian legend when I was young and I watched the film, ‘The Sword in the Stone’. I really loved that film then when I was a bit older there came BBC’s Merlin. Goodness but I became obsessed with that show as fast as possible.
I own all the seasons, of course, I am well aware how much the show differed from the legend and everything related to it. I don’t mind that. The thing with legends….they differ from period to period, as people differ from period to period.
So, I was very excited when I was approved for the ARC of Lancelot by Giles Kristian. For someone who has an interest in the legend, I have to admit that I haven’t read much of the literature that comes with it. I have only read ‘The Once and Future King’ by T. H. White. I know, I know, there’s tons more to read when it comes to the Arthurian legend. I will read it someday. Hopefully.
In any case, when I started reading Lancelot, I didn’t have much of an idea as to what the story could be and how it will unfold. It was a good thing in this scenario, I generally need a little bit of a background story before I pick up the book but with this one, and I was ready to dive into it blindfolded.
The book starts with action, we are immediately introduced to Lancelot and I was pulled into Lancelot’s world because of the way we are shown his life. The writing is really good, it catches you by surprise and you are stolen into the world as if you are Lancelot yourself. You see the entire world through his eyes and it’s done wonderfully. We can see the fifth century Britain with all its feuds, constant warring and trust me, it’s all rather magical to read. Just the way I imagined reading anything related to the Arthurian legend.
Lancelot’s life is not easy by any means and you can really sympathize with him during the hardships he faces. We don’t meet Arthur early in the book, in fact, I am correct, it’s almost after the book is about 50% done that we do meet him. Guinevere also comes later in the book, Merlin makes an appearance and the way magic is represented is pretty good. It just is, it’s accepted that it exists and there’s no unnecessary drama surrounding it. It surprised me a bit, I was expecting some drama but hey, I don’t mind the lack of it. It’s a bit refreshing change from all the other stories that I have heard of.
Lancelot’s friendship with Arthur, his heart-wrenching and tragic love for Guinevere, everything just made me feel things, ok? The way it’s all written, I was on the edge of my seat wanting to know what happened next every time I had to take a break and come back to it. The ending broke me, I knew it was coming, we all know it is coming but it still broke me. I think I like hurting myself emotionally through books, why else would I love the ones which hurt me the most? This book is going on my favourites, that’s for sure.
I think this book needed to be longer? Maybe that’s just me being greedy but I really would have loved to read more about those things left unwritten. Overall, this book gives such a rich and wonderful perspective from Lancelot about the legend and I loved it, though there were times when I wanted to ask the author why he would do this to the readers.
This was my first time reading Giles Kristian and now, I have to read more of his works. His writing is absolutely sublime and took me back to the times when it all could have unfolded. His writing is very atmospheric and you guys know how much I love to immerse myself in world building and well, this one took the prize.
I would totally recommend it to everyone, anyone who’s interested in the Arthurian legend, or want to read something fantastic. It has everything! Battles, friendship, complicated love, brave heroes, atmospheric writing. Seriously, I can’t recommend it enough.