Lancelot by Giles Kristian

Series: The Arthurian Tales #1Genre: historical fiction
Date of Publishing: May 31st 2018Publisher: Transworld Digital


Blurb

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.


Disclaimer/Personal Note

I’m on a historical fiction roll these days. I took a break from the Matthew Shardlake series reread (relisten, as I do it on audiobooks) to jump on Lancelot about which I already heard a lot. I also count this title into my Armed with a Bingo card. I’ve put it under the ‘A book written in a format other than third person‘ square.


Song of the Book

I’ve been thinking quite a lot which song would fit this book. I’m not sure this is the perfect song, but it’s close, so it’ll do. I was trying to pick a song that would capture Lancelot and Guinevere’s relationship.


Review

Everyone heard about Arthur, the Knights of the Round Table, Excalibur, Merlin and the legends surrounding them. Whether there are historical evidences of their existence or not, they captured the imagination of numerous generations. Not too surprisingly, as it has everything we are looking for in a good story – war, love triangle, heros, conflicts, betrayal, magic. I think there are a few other legends that still keeps inspiring our world and culture as Arthur and his life does. I admit my knowledge of these legends is limited as I didn’t research it, but of course I know the basics. Lancelot by Giles Kristian been on my TBR list for a while now, and many of my friends praised it but I only just got around to read it. Right in time, as I already have Camelot waiting on my Kindle to be read.

Lancelot, as the title indicates, tells the story of Lancelot, one of Arthur’s war lords and closest friend. It’s told from his POV and it’s quite captivating and heart breaking to read about the events as he has seen them. To watch him lose everything as a young boy, thrust into a world he didn’t know or want and where the other boys in his age mocked him, as he grows up and falls in love, as he becomes one of the most feared warrior and right hand of the legendary king, Arthur. And then loses it all again.

I was hooked pretty much from the beginning and even though I knew how it all will end, I still sat on the edge of my seat, hoping that this time things will be different. That there will be a happy end. And in a way, there is. Even if that’s also heart breaking. I know it doesn’t make sense, but it’s something you have to experience yourself. Love in the end wins. Even if not exactly how it does in the fairy tales. Then again, there are several kind of love, and we see most of them in Lancelot. The love for friends, for family, for your people, for that person who turns your world upside down. I think what makes Lancelot’s story a timeless one is that he experiences it all, he is an ordinary person with ordinary feelings, experiences and mistakes we all encounter in our lives. But the thing is, he is also the classic hero who puts an ideal above anything else, even himself. The ideal of Camelot, the united Britiannia, a kingdom where Arthur is the king. Even if that means giving up the love of his life. If he can.

I think my favourite was the first part, the years Lancelot spent on the island, under Lady Nimue. Not quite sure why. Maybe because those events in his childhood were so determining, we could already get a glimpse of the man he had later become. I find it exciting to watch a character to grow up, to witness how specific events form their personality. And Giles Kristian is really good at capturing these moments. To show us the arc of Lancelot’s character. It’s also really exciting to see the events playing out through his eyes, to learn about Briatannia, the Picts, the Saxons. Maybe not as much as I would have liked I’m honestly not as bothered by it, because instead we’ve got a powerful, character driven story, showing a new angle of the Arthurian legends.

Here Arthur is a warlord, wanting to follow in the footsteps of his father, Uther, but also follow his own dreams. He is a man with emotions, mistakes – namely Morgana and Mordred (boy, did I hate Mordred) – not invincible, but someone whom you would follow anywhere he leads. Merlin does not have as much of a role than I would have expected, though admittedly he is always in the thick of any events. A druid aiding Arthur to fulfill his dreams of peace and not being able to stop the disaster that they find instead. And Guinevere, finding herself in an impossible position, loving two of the greatest men in the kingdom, and who would blame her for it?

Lancelot has a great cast of characters, some you can love, some you can hate with a passion (I know I did), characters you can root for and feel their pain and happiness. I know I found myself a couple of times with my heart in my throat, wishing for the best. It also has a good balance between action and storytelling, though I would have loved to read more about the conflicts between the Brits, Saxons and Picts as well as their culture apart from that one scene with the priestess and the lake. Which was a cool one, by the way.

I also recommend the audiobook, the narrator really did well portraying all the emotions and characters and made me wanting more even though audiobooks can’t hold my attention too long. I often found myself using any excuse just to listen to one more chapter.

As others said before me, Lancelot is definitely an incredible book everyone should read. A timeless tale in a new light you won’t forget anytime soon. What would you sacrifice for love?


Our Judgement

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