Arthurian #HistFic My #Bookreview of Lancelot by @GilesKristian @TransworldBooks @SophieChristoph

LancelotLancelot by Giles Kristian

4.5 stars

Lancelot is historical fiction set around the folklore of the mythical King Arthur. In this story we first meet Lancelot as a young boy. The son of a minor king, he is orphaned after a betrayal by warring lords.

Lancelot is rescued by the mysterious Lady Nimue and hidden away on a tidal isle off the Cornish coast. It’s here, this story tells us, where he first meets Guinevere, having rescued her from a sinking ship. The Lady Nimue teaches Guinevere about herbal lore, with other young girls, while Lancelot offers her friendship. At first, they sneak forbidden time together, however, as adolescence advances they fall in love. But Guinevere is forced to return home, leaving Lancelot heart-broken.

News reaches the island that Uther Pendragon is dying, so the kings and lords of Britain gather at Tintagel. When Arthur is proclaimed Uther’s heir, unrest and fighting breaks out. Lancelot’s life makes a radical change as he now becomes part of Arthur’s fighting warriors.

Under Merlin’s guidance, Arthur goes in search of the legendary sword Excalibur, once owned by the great war lord Flavius Magnus Maximus, who commanded the Roman army in Britain. The sword was revered for the power it held, and Merlin believes that anyone wielding it will earn great respect.

Camelot is reclaimed from ruins and Mordred, Arthur’s estranged son, joins his men at arms. Arthur and his men vow to beat back the Saxon hoards and re-unite Britain. But the hardest moment in all of this, for Lancelot, is when Arthur brings his wife to his new court.

I do enjoy books which feature Arthur and the knights of the round table, so it was a pleasure to immerse myself in this story. The rich descriptive writing took me away to another time and place. I could almost hear the clash of metal during battles, smell the reek of prized severed heads and feel the hairs on the back of my neck rise from Merlin’s portentous words.

The author made the characters very believable. As warriors and everyday people of the time, Arthur’s knights of legend were trained warriors, experienced by years of battle and very good at their professions. Merlin was stripped of any fanciful trappings of myth and, in this book, he was quite a dark, cold character who used theatrics and men’s fears to his advantage. Overall it is a story which has searched for fairly convincing men and women of the time, who may have been behind the centuries old wordsmith’s tales, which we know as legends of King Arthur today.

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Book description

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.

About the author

Family history (he is half Norwegian) inspired GILES KRISTIAN to write his first historical novels: the acclaimed and bestselling Raven Viking trilogy – Blood Eye, Sons of Thunder and Odin’s Wolves. For his next series, he drew on a long-held fascination with the English Civil War to chart the fortunes of a family divided by that brutal conflict in The Bleeding Land and Brothers’ Fury. Giles also co-wrote Wilbur Smith’s recent No.1 bestseller, Golden Lion but in his new novels – God of Vengeance (a Times Book of the Year) and now Winter’s Fire – he returns to the world of the Vikings to tell the story of Sigurd and his celebrated fictional fellowship. Giles Kristian lives in Leicestershire.

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