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.
Synopsis from Goodreads
This book is one of the reasons I love platforms like Instagram - I had seen Lancelot talked about on @bookstolivby's instagram page (also, you should all be following her!) and was immediately interested. She gave it such a glowering review, how could I not look it up? And I'm so glad I did! Lancelot was such a beautiful story.
I can't speak enough of how beautiful Kristian's writing is. Think of novels like Circe by Madeline Miller and you have an understanding of the kind of story you'll be reading. It's lyrical but modern and incredibly easy to get wrapped up in the story as we follow Lancelot's life. There are time jumps that don't feel abrupt (even though it never says "8 years later", etc), but rather move the story from time and place so that the reader never has to stop to wonder where the plot is going. I absolutely loved reading Lancelot's perspective as he meets, and fights alongside, epic Arthurian heroes, including Arthur himself, as well as how Kristian reimagines Lancelot and Guinevere's first meeting and the relationship that comes from it.
Legends Become Real People
When talking about the legend of Arthur, it's a pretty daunting task to take characters like Lancelot, Arthur, Merlin, and Guinevere and take them from legends to real people, but Kristian does a beautiful job of it. Lancelot is shown as a young man struggling between loyalties (at numerous times in his life), but is ultimately simply a man in love with a woman and life gets in the way. Besides his own story, Arthur is transformed from "King of Camelot" to a strong warrior who still gets nervous when thinking about how his wife will be joining them at his unfinished kingdom. It's the little moments of anxiety, nervousness, etc, that Kristian flawlessly includes to truly humanize these characters of legend.
A Man in Love
While a heroic fighter, the core of this novel is truly about Lancelot's love for Guinevere and how it shapes his life. They first meet as children, but his love for her remains constant and true. This was so lovely to see in writing - a male character written by a male author that is unapologetically in love and doesn't shy away from it. When they are separated, Lancelot fully admits to falling to his knees crying as he is held back. Over and over, my heart breaks for him (and Guinevere) because we know there is simply no way they end up together.
Overall, this was a stunning novel and I'm THRILLED it was recommended to me. I would highly recommend Lancelot to anyone who enjoys historical fiction, is interested in a retelling of the legend of King Arthur, and those who love Madeline Miller's writing and are looking for something new to enjoy. Now I'm excited to dive into Camelot, the recently published companion novel to Lancelot!
Have you read Lancelot? What did you think?
FINAL RATING: 5/5
Hi, I'm Alexandra! I love reading (largely YA fiction, but sometimes I'll read "adult" books), playing board games, Nutella, and binge-watching TV shows on Netflix with my husband.
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