Camelot is the follow up to Giles Kristian’s Lancelot which, as those who have read my review will know, I loved! It is a continuation of Kristian’s retelling of the ancient Arthurian myths, but I am sure you all know that from the name of the book. What else would a book called Camelot be about! Anyway, having loved the previous book and sort of known these tales since I was young, I was really hoping to love this one… And I did!
Note: I tried to write
Camelot is set ten years after the end of Lancelot: chaos reigns through out Britain, the kings of Britain hide inside their forts while the Saxons advance across the country, bringing death, devastation and famine in their wake. But what is worse is the despair that has swept the country for Arthur has not been seen for nigh on a decade. But the spark of hope is rekindled when Galahad, the son of Lancelot, is plucked from a monastery by the aging warrior Gawain and the wild-spirited huntress Iselle to return Arthur and seek out the last of the druids, Merlin.
This set up and premise gives Camelot a tighter and more focused story line than Lancelot. This makes the book feel a lot faster. This isn’t necessarily a good thing or a bad thing: it’s just a bit of a different book in my opinion. We get more action, more of a driven plot and it is a real page turner. I powered through chapters of this book and didn’t want to put it down.
This pace does come at a bit of a cost to how close I felt to our main characters, though. Lancelot felt very much like a character study – we followed our protagonist for huge swathes of his life – where as in Camelot we following Galahad for a chapter of his life. The chapter were he really comes of age and discovers himself, but I still didn’t feel like I got t know him as a character in the same way as I did with Lancelot. He lacked, for me, that same spark of personality, but I honestly think this has more to do with the ridiculously high expectations that Kristian set in Lancelot.
Camelot, like Lancelot, is beautifully written and really sucks the reader into the world of post-Roman, pre-Saxon Britain. The descriptions and action are vivid, intense and just go to show that one of Kristian’s great strengths as an author is his prose. This was one of my favourite parts of Lancelot, though I sometimes felt it was a little over the top, and, if anything, it is even better than in Lancelot with a better balance being struck readability and the purpleness (I don’t think this is a word!) of the prose.
Overall, this is a book I would definitely recommend. You could read it as a standalone, I think it would work still, but I wouldn’t bother. Read Lancelot first then read this. Enjoy both, they’re both great, if quite different books.