Review: Lancelot (The Arthurian Tales #1) by Giles Kristian

Rating: 10/10

Synopsis

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.

Review

Lancelot might be the best book I read this year.

You know how some books just suck you into the story? You crack it open, read a few pages, and soon you’re transported into a feeling that only that book can give you? Lancelot is absolutely that kind of book. After reading this book I feel as if pieces of me are still living on the windblown island of Karrek, in the fields of Camelot, on the rocky crags of Tintagel. Reading Lancelot left me awash with the most bittersweet feeling and it really hasn’t left me for nearly a week after finishing the book.

Lancelot is utterly captivating. The chapters are long and self-contained stories from Lancelot’s life and each is its own story to dive into, even though they’re all interconnected. The story follows Lancelot’s progression from a child into manhood, and his life on the island of Karrek, his loyalty to Arthur, all with the undercurrent of his burning love for Guinivere.

It did take a few dozen pages for the ball to get rolling, but I felt like once Lancelot arrived on Karrek the story began in earnest. Lancelot’s loves, friendships, enemies, and his extreme loyalty were all so well-written and I became very invested in the character and his life.

Giles Kristian is an author that I haven’t heard of before, but holy cow can he write! His prose is beautiful and simple, a difficult art to master, and he writes characters with so much humanity and realism and elicits so much empathy from the reader. Kristian does for Arthurian legend what Madeline Miller does for Greek mythos: portrays characters lost to history and fable as red-blooded human beings with hearts that beat with every word on every page.

Lancelot is an excellent read. 

P.S. I could very well be wrong, but it doesn’t look like Lancelot has a U.S. publisher, so buying options might be limited. I got my physical copy from Book Depository but you might have luck elsewhere.

5 thoughts on “Review: Lancelot (The Arthurian Tales #1) by Giles Kristian

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