Author: Giles Kristian
Genre: Mythology, Historical Fiction, Romance
My rating: 3.94 / 5
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.
Yet he is gifted, and under the watchful eyes of Merlin and the Lady Nimue he will hone his talents… 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…
Before reading “Lancelot”, I didn’t know about “Arthurian Legend”.
But my recent spurt of interest in Great Britain’s history (my husband blame it on my-still-reeling-under-colonial-hangover) made me pick this book.
And “Lancelot” is the best historical fiction/mythological retelling that I’ve read till now in 2018 or in the last one year.
I love big books but I don’t like books that stretch. In “Lancelot”, Giles Kristian struck the balance with aplomb.
The plot described the whole character arc of Lancelot–
- as a kid on the refuge with his family,
- witnessing his whole kin getting butchered,
- ending up as an orphan apprentice warrior under the guardianship of Lady Nimue,
- falling in love and getting hurt in the process and finally,
- finding his salvation under King Arthur.
One of my pet peeves with modern-day feminist historical retelling is–
The women protagonists sound far ahead of their times. Ex.-“Circe”.
It’s wonderful to read powerful women taking charge, claiming sexual pleasure and all that jazz.
But logically – was it permissible for a woman (royal/poor nonetheless) from medieval era to walk, talk and act like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie or Lena Dunham of today?
I know it’s kind of wish fulfillment. Still…
Giles Kristian could’ve taken the liberty and spun the love story between Lancelot and Queen Guinevere that of a barrier-bashing, societal rank-thrashing union of lovers.
But he showed – it was how it was.
Guinevere was married to King Arthur (latter, going by the book, came off as a valiant douchebag).
Lancelot was the swordsman-cum-chief-warrior-cum-companion under King Arthur’s service.
In one line-
he was overworked, underpaid and had loins- on- fire for boss’s wife (his ex-sweetheart) but made no sexual advancement (with consent)- till Arthur rumored to be killed.
In short, Lancelot is the man we, ladies, desire (in the age of Tinder or wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am) but don’t deserve.
- Giles Kristian writes poignant poetic words/phrases that will make you ponder for a moment and push you to fly through the pages.
- The POV. After reading so many books on the POV of a woman, it was a nice break and I was invested in the journey of Lancelot- from an orphan to one of the most formidable warriors in medieval Britain.
- The lifestyle of folks from different economic strata, the military strategies and most importantly- how Arthur possessed the mighty Excalibur sword was vivid to thumb through.
- The Ending is one of the best I’ve ever read. It was so heart-tugging that I had to shed a few tears for the loss of Lancelot and Guinevere.
I re-read the climax for about 10 times to wallow in the heartache a l’il longer.
- Guinevere’s character-arc could’ve been “meatier” than being the “object of desire” of two men.
- Same could’ve been said about King Arthur. He was just a benevolent, brave sourpuss.
Q 1. Should you read “Lancelot”?
Ans. Only if you enjoy long books and appreciate a good cry just like a good laugh.
Q 2. Should the book deserve more brouhaha amidst the readers?
Do you like historical fiction? Which one is your favorite book?
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