Top critical review
Starts brilliantly , then sadly goes downhill
12 October 2018
As a huge fan of Arthurian Literature I genuinely wanted to like this book. To be fair it is a comparatively solid showing. It is certainly superior to Cornwell's Saxon stories which should have ended about 5 books ago, but Lancelot, despite some bright spots, tragically falls apart as the story goes on.
The opening is fast paced with a ton of action and it instantly draws the reader in, Armorica isn't a place that usually gets explored in literature set during the dark ages and this is to the novel's benefit, there's some Game of Thrones inspired treachery thrown in to boot.
From here however the pace of the novel slows down dramatically, in fact for near 200 pages we don't actually change location, and not much of any consequence seems to happen, the only bright spot here is the character of Pelleas. I recall stopping at this point nearly halfway through the book and hoping to myself that Arthur would appear soon and the tale would actually begin to lead somewhere.
At the halfway mark the novel does seem to pick up again, with the second half of the book graced with Arthur, Gawain and Mordred, and filled with numerous battles and quests. However, partly as a result of having waited till the second half of the novel to get the main story up and rolling, I feel Mr Kristian's work really starts to fall apart at this point. The story seems to jump around far too quickly, in one chapter we are in the lands of the Picts, the next we are 500 miles south in Camelot, then we are in Gaul fighting the Franks. At one point we jump 8 years ahead in the turning of page. It all feels very disjointed and I found it made for very awkward reading. It almost feels as if the author is trying to squeeze too much into the final 150 or so pages.
All this however could be forgiven were it not for the final few chapters, which genuinely made me despise the character that is Lancelot. When the aforementioned charges in to save Guinevere from her death at the pyre, he kills Agga and Bedwyr, men with whom he has fought alongside for years, his brothers in arms. In the original Arthurian story, when Lancelot kills Gareth and Gaheris, he is grief stricken and distraught, surely in this book he is as well? Not so. There is no internal monologue, no mention of sorrow or regret, nothing but a childish pining for Guinevere. Despite Mr Kristian's efforts to portray Lancelot and Guinevere as a tragic love story, by the end of this book their relationship is an utterly childish, unrealistic joke.
The end is perhaps the worst part of the book. The author may have intended it to be bitterweet and poignant. Personally I found it ridiculous. Lancelot's skills as a father are called into question when he leaves his very young son by himself and defenceless on the edge of a battlefield while he volunteers to go on a suicide charge with Arthur and his men. By the time I put this book down I despised Lancelot, if that was Mr Kristian's intenton, I commend him.
For any fan of Arthurian Literature, this book is worth a read, but a masterpiece it is most definitely not.