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 fifth-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.
Author: Giles Kristian
Narrator: Phillip Stevens
Run Time: 22 hrs 56 mins
Audio Release Date: 31/5/2018
Publisher: Random House
My Rating of ‘Lancelot’: 5 out of 5
I am one of those people that has never read an Arthurian re-telling and the only film based on the myth I have ever watched is the Disney film ‘The Sword in the Stone’. It is, however, a myth I have obviously heard about for as long as I have been alive and one that I think of fondly despite knowing little about it. After all, any man, woman or child that has an interest in swords and doesn’t smile at the thought of Excalibur needs to get their priorities in order.
Wanting to dive into the Myth of Arthur, and seeing that one of the finest Historical Fiction authors ever to pick up a pen/lash out at the keys on his keyboard (Giles Kristian) had written a re-telling made picking this up all the easier.
From the first to the last you just know you have something special in front of you, or beaming in through your ear if you picked up the audio book like I did. For those of you that haven’t read anything by Giles, you really need to sort that out. So far, I have burned through the Rise of Sigurd trilogy and have the Raven Blood Eye saga sat on my book shelf. Rise of Sigurd was fantastic, but Lancelot is a cut above.
The writing itself is absolutely fantastic. It’s written in first person (a perspective I find addictive to read) so you get a very personal touch from Lancelot. It’s written in such a way that you find it easy to connect with the character; be that in a good way or a ‘If Lancelot doesn’t run this guy through I’ll kill him myself’ kind of way. Giles has a way with words that most other authors don’t. I find that, in certain parts, he puts more beauty on the page that any artist would be capable with on canvas.
The narration is just as top draw as the writing itself. Phillip Stevens does a wonderful job, altering his voice just enough to give the different characters their own feel and adding a certain gruff nature to the coarseness of the language/phrases used by the rough folk of the age. As soon as I hit play and heard his voice in the opening narration, I knew I was onto a winner.
The characters are fantastic and you find yourself becoming absorbed more so due to the depth of their, for lack of a better word, character. Merlin’s way with words are always good to put a smile on your face. He’s the kind of guy that would sooner toss out a kind-hearted insult than a pleasant greeting. Add in the fact that everyone thinks him capable of casting gruesome magics, it makes those kind-hearted insults somewhat darker.
I am also not one for listening/reading to author notes all that often but I am glad I did in this case. Giles talks about the loss of his father and how it impacted him as a person/writer. It makes the scene with Uther feel all the more powerful. Whether that was intended or not, I cannot say but it hit me in the feels all the more when looking back.
For anyone that wants a new look on an old story, this is the perfect one for you. It is, as the title suggests, told from the perspective of Lancelot rather than Arthur. You still get Arthur and all the usual suspects in it for large portions, but it is Lancelot-centred and I loved it for that.
‘Lancelot’ is crammed full of battle, love, loss, friendship and tied together by powerful storytelling. I rarely read or listen to a book where I have nothing bad to say, but, as I mentioned above, my knowledge on Arthurian myth is literally the Disney movie. So perhaps I enjoyed it more being able to go into it with zero-knowledge or expectation.