Lancelot by Giles Kristian

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BLURB

A stunning retelling of the Arthurian legend of
Lancelot, a warrior’s story full of battles and bloodshed,
friendship, betrayal and doomed love.

‘What elevates Kristian above the many pretenders to Cornwell’s crown
is the style and swagger of the prose. He is a modern skald, borrowing the old rhythms to create a brutal, absorbing tale’ Antonia Senior, The Times
In his epic new novel, the acclaimed and bestselling author of Raven and God of Vengeance re-imagines and retells the story of one of the great figures of British myth and legends – the warrior who fought at King Arthur’s side: Lancelot.
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 a 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.

My review

Let me start this review with a resounding ‘Wow’. It has been a while since I have read any of the author’s previous books but am certainly glad I read Lancelot. It is a brilliant telling of that beautiful, and poignant tale. The man who betrayed Arthur is given a fresh start by Mr. Kristian as we follow Lancelot’s early life and, in this story, meets Guinevere  (in a most startling fashion, but I won’t say anything about that- spoilers, you know).  I will say this, the sheer agony, and turmoil that Lancelot experiences is exquisitely portrayed; the pain reaches through the pages and draws the reader in. In fact, the descriptive talent of the author is continually on display: examples –

‘Merlin remarked one day that from the flat land to the north, Camelot resembled a great dragon sleeping under the snow-veiled earth, its foul, smoky breath rising to the wintry sky as proof that it was alive and well and just waiting.’

‘Arthur would fight for Britain.  I would fight for Arthur. And Guinevere would always own my soul. The gods are cruel.’

In addition to his descriptive talent, the author has also crafted an amazing set of characters, from the mysterious Merlin, the indomitable Bors, the charismatic Arthur, and of course, the beautiful, beguiling Guinevere. I felt a part of all of them, even the enmity and hatred that exudes from Mordred (though I still wanted to kill the bastard.) 🙂

Of course, this is also a tale of war and as such there are many battles, skirmishes, one on one combat, and the like as Arthur seeks to send the Saxons packing. Again I was in awe of the author’s prowess in bringing me into the action. The sound of Arthur’s armored cavalry while charging an enemy force; the sound of the horsemen as they sing their battle songs can be heard and then replaced by the sounds of screaming, the crunch of bones, the clang of weapons.

I was entranced by the whole re-working of the legend and while we may never know the truth of the Arthur story, this telling is certainly one we can really enjoy.  5 Stars

GILES KRISTIAN’S bestselling trilogies ‘Raven’ and ‘The Rise of Sigurd’ have been acclaimed by his peers, reviewers and readers alike. The novels The Bleeding Land and Brothers’ Fury tell the story of a family torn apart by the English Civil War and he co-wrote Wilbur Smith’s No.1 bestseller, Golden Lion.
In his new novel, Lancelot, Giles plunges into the rich and swirling waters of our greatest island For more information please contact: Sophie Christopher
0208 231 6615 | schristopher@penguinrandomhouse.co.uk | @sophiechristoph

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