ARC provided by the publisher—Bantam Press—in exchange for an honest review.
Camelot by Giles Kristian
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Genre: Historical fiction
Pages: 450 pages
Published: 14th May 2020 by Bantam Press
It is not easy to re-lit the fire of hope when everything feels bleak.
I’m a HUGE fan of The Warlord Chronicles trilogy by Bernard Cornwell and Lancelot by Giles Kristian himself; I consider these four books the holy grails of Arthurian retelling novels. I won’t lie, these books are so incredible that I have pretty much settled with the thoughts that there won’t be a better Arthurian novel than them, even if that book is a new novel written by either Bernard Cornwell or Giles Kristian. And I am very confident in this bold claim. But please don’t let this statement steer you into thinking that I wasn’t excited for Camelot. This follow-up sequel to Lancelot is one of my most anticipated books of 2020, and Giles Kristian was able to deliver another beautifully melancholic Arthurian retelling that I’m sure will captivate fans of Lancelot.
“There is still a flame and that flame can become a fire which will wake the gods.”
The story in Camelot takes place ten years after the end of Lancelot, and the story follows a 20 years old Galahad, the son of Lancelot—Arthur’s best friend, the betrayer, and the lord of battles. A story about finding hope in the darkest of times may be a bit cliché, but it is a timelessly important theme that will prevail through the test of times, and Camelot depicts an immersive tale about exactly that. The narrative in Camelot mainly revolves around Galahad, the familiar characters from Lancelot, and their struggle to brandish the shining swords of Britain once again. It would be on-point to call Camelot an epilogue novel that finished the tale that began in Lancelot but also begins a new line of story upon its conclusion.
“We are no army, but we are the beginning of an army. We are the flint and steel from which a hundred fires will be lit. A thousand fires.”
Galahad is not Lancelot. That point is one of the key driving strengths of Galahad’s characterizations, and in all honesty, it wouldn’t be fair to compare the two of them. However, I feel like a comparison on which one was superior as the main character needs to be done because this novel—despite the time-gap—is quite a direct continuation of what happened at the end of Lancelot. Who do I like more as the main character? Lancelot. There’s something extraordinarily special in Kristian’s coming-of-age rendition of Lancelot. Plus, I am much more familiar with Lancelot than Galahad, and it took a bit longer for me to connect to Galahad relatively. Regrets, love, glory, and loyalty are still some of the most dominating themes of the story, and thankfully, Galahad eventually grew to become a great character as he progressively becomes the reaper of lives—following the footstep of Lancelot while retaining his own identity.
“I thought it would be enough. I should have seen what would happen. I should have known that love can destroy like fire.”
Giles Kristian is a massively talented writer, his capability to chain a lyrical stream of words seriously should earn him many awards. I didn’t rush through this book. Similar to reading Lancelot, haste is not an option; the emotions, the bloody battles, the writing demands to be savored. I would slow down time if I could. I would beg for more words to read if I could, and still, the eye that peered into the words on the pages eventually reached the last page. I loved Camelot, this is a wonderful sequel that, somehow against all odds, completed Lancelot even further. Enchanting, haunting, and filled with lyrical prose that would spark the jealousy in a myriad of writers, Camelot is an evocative work of magnificence. Every enthusiast of Lancelot and Arthurian retelling should give this book a read. Kristian seems to have left the ending open for continuation, and I look forward to reading the next tale he writes.
Official release date: 14th May 2020
The quotes in this review were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.
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