Having grown up on a fodder of Greek myths and Arthurian sagas, I was naturally drawn to Sarah Zettel’s treatment of the legendary tales of England’s most famous knights. Sir Gawain and Sir Galahad were amongst my favourites, and In Camelot’s Shadow, being a retelling of two popular tales about Gawain, was a hit with me when I spied it on the bookshelf.
Many stories have been written about King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table, but most of them tend to draw out the affair and betrayal of Lancelot and Guinevere. Even The Mists of Avalon, my all-time favorite work of MZB, carried a different interpretation of it (they didn’t betray Arthur). This novel, with its focus on one of the more famous Knights, and fleshing out the loathly lady in Risa, is quite a refreshing change.
Risa of the Morelands ran away from home to avoid being given over to an evil sorcerer, Euberacon, who wrangled a promise out of her father years ago. While on the road, she was rescued from being abducted by the sorcerer by none other than the gallant Gawain, who’s hurrying back to Camelot to warn the King of a plot against the kingdom. Gawain persuaded Risa to present her case to the Queen and petition to be released from this bargain her father had so foolishly made.
On their way to court, they were set upon by a Saxon raid party ensorcelled by Euberacon’s accomplice. But That was not the end of the obstacles for them, but through it all Risa’s steady and quiet courage drew the admiration of Gawain, and before long, the pair began to have tender feelings for each other, even though Risa felt that to hope for a proposal from him would be too far above her station in life.
It is heartening to learn in the end that their love prevailed through the trials and tribulations fate threw their way, and trust me, there were quite a few, scandal and ruin being the least of the danger that visits them at every corner.
Ms Zettel’s gift for characterization and imaginative plot development make this debut of her Paths to Camelot series an absorbing and thrilling read. To a fan of Arthurian tales, this book is a good balance of adventure, fantasy and romance in its purest and most chivalrous form.
It left me sighing with contentment when the lovers were, at long last, finally united.