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Guest poster Holly took a very long time to read this Arthurian fantasy novel, but every time she went back to it, she remembered where she was, what was happening, and was pulled right back in with no messing about. And that is a sign of a good story.
Lest Camelot Fall by Danny Adams is a historical fantasy romp set just after the death of King Arthur and most of his Knights of the Round Table. It follows the medieval politics that ensue after the loss of the Dux Bellorum (literally The Warlord: Arthur’s title that named him as the true leader of Britain). With only a handful of knights, the three royal brothers and the cryptic Merlin left to take control of Camelot and face Mordred’s now fatherless sons, decisions are made quickly and rashly. Arthur’s son Prince Constantine claims the throne and loyalties are tested.
The story is narrated by Lucianus Flavius Aurelianus, Constantine’s younger brother. This gives interesting insights into his conflicting loyalties towards the good of Camelot and the decisions of his brother (whom he nearly fatally stabbed at some point because of a girl, but that doesn’t seem to bother Constantine anymore because they’re noble or something).
As a female reader I found this a pretty testosterone-fuelled read. Admittedly there weren’t many key females in Camelot – Arthur’s half-sister Morgan and his wife Guinevere are the only two I can think of with important roles in the legends, but since Guinevere ran away early into the story, after sleeping with Arthur’s favourite knight, we don’t see much of her in this novel. There could have been more room for Morgan, since she camps out in Avalon for most of the story. The result is that I felt like knocking the remaining males’ heads together every couple of pages when their testosterone kicks in and they all do something idiotic and honour-motivated.
Despite all that this is a good read. The quality of the research and how it has been integrated into the story is impressive, to the point where you forget that you’re not reading a history book about a myth that has never actually been set in stone (pun intended). I enjoyed the consistency of Merlin’s unhelpfulness and those moments of pride when I actually recognised one of the old British place-names (who knew you are actually supposed to read the helpful table at the beginning of the book that explains which is which?).
I can’t say any more without ruining the plots twists, but there are battles and churches and lost cultures galore and it’s a very good read if you’ve got the time to get lost in an Arthurian story without the Arthur.
Danny Adams, Lest Camelot Fall, 2014, Musa Publishing, available only as an ebook.
Holly will read anything with dragons in it. Possibly swords as well.