The following is a review I had previously posted for The Camelot Papers by Peter David (no relation)
For anyone not familiar with Peter David, he has a long history of extremely good and award winning work. I first discovered his work from his work on various Star Trek novels, and later his fantasy novels. He has written several episodes of Babylon 5, and co-created the Nickelodeon tv show space cases. He also had a long running history on Marvel’s The Incredible Hulk.
Mr David has long been one of my favorite authors, and one of the few whose work I’ll buy based on his name alone.
That’s not why I am writing this review. I chose to review one of his books because he recently suffered a stroke. It’s for this reason that I write this review.
The Camelot Papers, credited as written by Viviana, the royal historian, is introduced as a historical find and seen as a true account of what happened in king Arthur’s court. The book we have is a translated version made available for the public transcribed by author Peter David.
The book starts with Viviana’s arrival at Camelot. A slave (a fact you’ll be reminded of often as Viviana never seems to tire of telling us and everyone she meets this) who quickly is introduced to Uther Pendragon, who is described as a vicious brute. His son Arthur, an affable idiot who seems to have difficulty piecing two coherent thoughts together much less capable if ruling all of Britain.
Soon Guinevere is introduced (tomboy), her sister Morgan and her nephew Mordred (possibly demonic, definitely creepy). Merlin of course is here as the royal apothecary (pharmacist, and feared Wizard).
As events in the castle transpire Viviana manages to improve her station from kitchen wench to royal handmaiden and becomes either directly or indirectly responsible for much of what happens at Camelot’s court.
This is not the King Arthur you know. If you are familiar with Peter David’s other King Arthur series (Knight Life) it’s not remotely related other then it features King Arthur. What it is, is an entertaining read that possibly seeks to redefine Arthurian legend, or more likely has the author’s views on current events such as the Iraq war, interrogation techniques, social programs, the divide between the rich and poor and the power of unions. David does not seek to hide this very well as Aesop’s fables as lessons are mentioned more then once. All this while displaying the author’s trade mark humor and wit.
If you don’t want to read his views on these social issues, or don’t like the idea of someone messing with the generally established roles in Arthurian legend don’t read this book. If on the other hand, you want those views, or can at least ignore them and don’t mind a new take on Arthur and you’re ok with buying a second (I have little doubt that David intends a second) then you should pick this one up.