'We will not wield. We are the swords of Britain. The lords of battle.'
Lancelot, by bestselling historical fiction writer Giles Kristian, tells the story of Arthur's greatest and most infamous warrior. And what a story that is!
I received the arc of Camelot in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Giles Kristian and Bantam Press for this chance.
An Arthurian tale that stands out from anything else I have read, with its haunting yet beautiful story. A story of love and loss. Of friendship and betrayal. A story of sacrifice. And one of hope.
Camelot is a historical version of the Arthurian tales that is the sequel to Lancelot, which along with The Warlord Chronicles by Bernard Cornwell are my favourite Arthurian stories to date. And now, Camelot joins those esteemed ranks.
“We were few. We were the last. And we were going to war.”
Set soon after the Romans have left Britain and during the invasions of the Saxons, the Britons are on the edge of total annihilation. After facing defeat and betrayal, many of the brave heroes of Lancelot have fallen, leaving few old warriors beyond their prime still willing to fight for freedom. Defeat seems inevitable.
Amongst this, Galahad, son of the infamous yet widely despised Lancelot, has been raised as a monk in a monastery. Yet, destiny has other things set in store for him. Galahad was a character very different from Lancelot, but I thoroughly enjoyed his story as well. The conflict with the memory of his father that he and everyone else has was particularly interesting. This is a coming-of-age story that gripped me in an emotional journey.
“We are no army, but we are the beginning of an army. We are the flint and steel from which a hundred fires will be lit. A thousand fires.”
Now onto the wonderful prose of Giles Kristian. It is lyrical and poetic. Beautiful to read. I glided along this story so smoothly, carried from page to page effortlessly. He has a quality to immerse you into the world he has created and make you experience every subtle emotion that he paints with each word. One of my favourite writing styles I have had the pleasure to read.
Something that Giles Kristian in undoubtedly brilliant with is his action sequences. I learnt this when I read his Raven historical series, and also Lancelot. This is no different. Whether they be small scale skirmishes, guerrilla warfare, duels or all-out battles, each one is executed wonderfully. As a reader you experience the claustrophobic adrenaline rush of battle, the fear, the confusion of conflict, all whilst still comprehending what is taking place. Again, just brilliant.
“I am an old fool, but I know that a man so loved by some and hated by others must be a man who was true to his heart.”
Within Camelot, we get the pleasure of being reunited with some of our favourite characters of Lancelot, such as Gawain. But we also gain some wonderful and intricate new characters, such as Galahad himself and the fierce bow-wielding young woman Iselle, who is a master of stealth and hates the Saxon invaders. The interactions between characters are so realistic and develop in an emotional and believable manner, adding further to the connection to them and the story.
As I hope I have managed to get across, I loved this book. From the prose, to characters, to action sequences. Everything in this book is brilliant. That is partly due to my love for anything Arthurian, but it is also due to the intricate and powerful story Giles Kristian has magically created. I was so lucky to gain an early copy of Lancelot. Do yourself a favour and read Lancelot and then this!
Sons of Thunder was a brilliant second instalment in the Raven series. Many series I have read have suffered at the hands of the “second book disease”, where the quality plummets. But not this!
“Have you ever sailed in a longship? Not a stubby, robust knörr laden with trade goods and wallowing like a packhorse across the sea, but a sleek, deathly quick, terror-stirring thing – a dragon ship.”
Sons of Thunder is the second instalment in the Raven historical series by the magnificent Giles Kristian, following a Viking brotherhood that battle with the consistent brutality life throws at them. This follows on soon after the wrapping up of the previous novel. The role of Raven as a narrator in the present time becomes a firmer role, which made this overall a tenser read than the reminiscent nature of a portion of its predecessor. This book was full of goosebumps worthy scenes and brilliant moments.
Kristian’s prose is the same as usual, I’ve learnt to expect it now. Easy, accessible, rich with Norse goodness, and fluid. So easy to listen to on audiobook. Each time I snatch a moment or two, I’m instantly immersed back into this world of sea-faring and warrior exploits.
The Sons of Thunder wondered away from the blusterous British isles, turning towards France and the growing empire of Charlemagne and his Frankish warriors. The new land was presented wonderfully, with a wide array of locations. From the disgusting town of Paris, (far prior to its flourishing days. Definitely not the city of love), to the turmoil of the sea and navigation of a Norse longboat.
“It's difficult to hate a broken man, no matter the previous misdeeds.”
One key standout moment I have to mention is the holmganga. Which means, duel. Sons of Thunder contained one of my favourite duels I have ever read! It was brutal, mesmerising and enchanting! I won’t go further into detail for fear of spoilers….
The cast of characters has increased slightly, but it was mostly spent cementing and expanding those introduced in Blood Eye. Kristian creates a wide diversity of characters each with different unique traits that define them. A wonderful band of warriors!
Overall, Sons of Thunder was everything that I wanted it to be! Brutal, immersive, unique, epic! What more can you ask for? Much as I said in my review of Blood Eye, I think you’ll really enjoy this series if you’re into Norse mythology/history or the Dark Ages.