Review: Camelot by Giles Kristian

Britain is a land riven by anarchy, slaughter, famine, filth and darkness. Its armies are destroyed, its heroes dead, or missing. Arthur and Lancelot fell in the last great battle and Merlin has not been these past ten years. But in a small, isolated monastery in the west of England, a young boy is suddenly plucked from his simple existence by the ageing warrior, Gawain. It seems he must come to terms with his legacy and fate as the son of the most celebrated yet most infamous of Arthur’s warriors: Lancelot. For this is the story of Galahad, Lancelot’s son – the reluctant warrior who dared to keep the dream of Camelot alive . . . 

Rating: 3.5/5

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I loved Kristian’s Lancelot when I read it last year, and I was incredibly excited to get an ARC of the sequel, Camelot! While you can read Camelot as a standalone, I recommend reading Lancelot first for the best experience. Galahad’s struggles with living up to his father’s legacy are very much informed by the characterisation of Lancelot (who doesn’t appear in this book). It’s also nice to see a number of the characters from Lancelot return, including an expanded role for Merlin, who is cunning and unpredictable to the last.

Of course, some things are the same in this sequel: most notably, Kristian’s incredibly evocative way with words, which bring Britain to life and make it easy to picture both the scenery and the horrors of weather and war.

However, this is also a very different kind of book. Where Lancelot covers the main character’s journey from birth to death, Camelot starts when Galahad is 20, and only tells a very small portion of his tale. Galahad is much less sure of himself and his place in the world than Lancelot … which made the middle third of this book a little tedious, as there’s a lot of wandering around on various missions and puzzling things (and feelings) through. However, the reader’s patience is largely rewarded by the end, as Galahad comes to terms with what he wants from life.

Overall, I really enjoyed Camelot. Kristian hasn’t announced any plans (that I know of) but I wouldn’t be at all opposed to reading more in this world.

Note: I received an ARC from Bantam Press in exchange for a review. Camelot will be released on 14 May.

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