A debut fantasy novel that takes in-depth looks at Perceval and other members of King Arthur’s court.
At the outset of Geraldson’s story, a sheep tender named Perceval lives in a small village with his mother and sister. The young man doesn’t know what chain mail or chivalry are, but after an encounter with a wounded knight named Lamorak, he decides that the life of a mounted warrior is for him. Although Perceval’s mother strongly disagrees, there’s little she can do to stop him from pursuing his dream. So he sets out for Camelot, where the great King Arthur rules. Although Arthur oversees a land of great prosperity, he still has enemies, including a knight dressed in red armor named Meliagrant. When Perceval arrives in Camelot, he’s just in time to challenge Meliagrant to a jousting match, which miraculously leaves the young man victorious and the red knight dead. How could a mere boy from the countryside defeat such a well-trained adversary? Readers soon discover that there’s much more to Perceval than meets the eye. They also meet a wide range of other characters, including (but not limited to) Sir Lancelot, Sir Galahad, Jacqueline of Quimper, Morgan of the Lake, and King Arthur himself. This rather long novel is crammed with scenes of dialogue and inner monologues, and not all of them are dazzling. Characters often state what they’re about to do before they do it, as when Galahad proclaims flatly, “Let’s check the room on the end, then get out of here.” At another point, Perceval is said to have “thus decided his next course” when it might have been more exciting to simply show him already on his way. Even so, Geraldson does present a complicated tapestry of events over the course of more than 850 pages. Readers learn not only about Perceval’s adventures, but also about the many ways in which his actions influence others, from his mother and his sister to the famous king whom he hopes to serve. In the end, the novel provides a full and intriguing picture of its world that readers will appreciate.
A complex and often exciting look at an age-old legend despite some unnecessary exposition.