|Series: The Arthurian Tales #2||Genre: historical fiction|
|Date of Publishing: May 14th 2020||Publisher: Transworld Digital|
Quote of the Book
‘She’s a beauty, isn’t she?’ Yvain was watching the pretty, darkhaired girl whose long fingers danced on the lyre strings, pouring notes into that fug-filled hall like some queen scattering coins among the poor.
Following his acclaimed Sunday Times bestseller, Lancelot, Giles Kristian’s new novel returns us to the realms of Arthurian legend . . .
Britain is a land riven by anarchy, slaughter, famine, filth and darkness. Its armies are destroyed, its heroes dead, or missing. Arthur and Lancelot fell in the last great battle and Merlin has not been these past ten years. But in a small, isolated monastery in the west of England, a young boy is suddenly plucked from his simple existence by the ageing warrior, Gawain. It seems he must come to terms with his legacy and fate as the son of the most celebrated yet most infamous of Arthur’s warriors: Lancelot. For this is the story of Galahad, Lancelot’s son – the reluctant warrior who dared to keep the dream of Camelot alive . . .
I’ve got an ARC through Netgalley, thanks to the publisher, Transworld Digital in exchange of an honest review.
I also count this title into my Armed with a Bingo card. I’ve put it under the ‘A book published in 2020‘ square.
Song of the Book
Huh, I didn’t make my own life easy with this one. I picked a Goo Goo Dolls song for Lancelot, so I figured I’d go with another song from them. Me and my stupid rules… aaaanyway, I’m pretty happy with Fearless. I think it represents Galahad, the way he grows into the role he was predestined for.
I didn’t even start reading Lancelot yet, when Camelot appeared on Netgalley and I instantly jumped on it. I knew I would love Lancelot and if that was the case, I reasoned, then I definitely will love Camelot as well. Fortunately for me, that meant I didn’t have to wait too long between the two books and I had fresh memories going in. But maybe because of the current circumstances or because I had too high expectations, Camelot didn’t exactly turned out to be what I hoped it would.
If you haven’t read Lancelot, this review might contain spoilers for that book, but not for Camelot.
Events happen 10 years after the end of Lancelot. The biggest warriors of Britain, Arthur and Lancelot are dead. The kingdoms that once were united under his bear flag are divided once more. Some fight the Saxons still, others are powerless against the raids and yet some others try to struck a pact with them. The High King’s seat is empty and though Lord Constantine still fights, even he has less and less options to defend the island. A small group of Arthur’s warriors are still carrying his dream of Camelot and grabbing on the last strings of hope go on a journey to try to keep that dream alive.
Galahad, after his father’s death was taken to a small island, Ynys Wyrdyn to join the monks who keep the Holy Thorn – according to legend Joseph Arimathea stepped his foot on that island and from his staff the Thorn tree grew. Galahad is not fully initiated yet, but he is close to it when the past comes knocking. Gawain and his companions come to collect him to fulfill his fate. Soon, however the chance of choosing his own path is taken from him, and he finds himself joining forces with legends, taking on the journey of his life – not only to find Camelot, but to come to piece with his past and accept his role in the future.
In Camelot, we meet some old friends such as Gawain or Lord Constantine or Merlin or even Morgana but we also have new characters: Iselle the fiery warrior from the marshes who has more courage than most of the soldiers or Yvain the monk who is not quite as devoted as his brothers. Personally I can say he was my favourite character in Camelot.
I honestly wish I can say I enjoyed Camelot as much as I did Lancelot, but… I didn’t. Don’t get me wrong, it’s really well written, I just failed to connect or care about any of the characters. Galahad was pretty flat and weightless as an MC here, and though he did have some character ARC, I still couldn’t make myself feel anything toward him. It didn’t really help that I kept thinking he is much younger than 20 or so years… I liked Iselle, but we don’t really get to know her either. I think my biggest issue here is that although we spend a lot of time with them as they journey up and down through Britain with a host of other characters, we really don’t get to know them somehow.
Maybe it’s because I’m really not into the journeying trope, but I wish this book was more focused on the conflicts between the Saxons and the kingdoms. We only get glimpses and of course a battle here and there, but I wanted more (not of battles, but the politics and backstabbing). I wanted to know why I should root for Galahad and company, why should I hate Morgana and her offspring beside the obvious reasons. I was bored a lot, although I also have to give credit where it’s due: there were a couple of really powerful moments captured in Camelot which really made it worth reading the book. But damn that ending was… not satisfying and a bit abrupt if I’m honest. I also didn’t buy the romance plot…
I think we can say Camelot is not as character driven as Lancelot was. Which is absolutely fine. The plot might have taken different turns than I expected going in, but I definitely appreciated Kristian‘s way of showing us early Christianity in Britain and how it clashed with the old faith as well as the Saxons’. Probably would have gone a bit deeper into these issues as well, but oh my. Kristian undoubtedly has a way with descriptions and painting a vivid picture of the world in which his stories are set.
Overall, I have mixed feelings about Camelot. There were aspects I enjoyed but I also felt underwhelmed at the end. Lancelot definitely put the bar high and I don’t think Camelot was able to live up to it. Even so, if you enjoyed Lancelot, I don’t see why you shouldn’t also read Camelot. It has some nice – if a bit predictable – twists, battles, backstabbing, drama. Underneath it all, Camelot is the story about dreams, about unyielding loyalty and the notion that you never should give up.