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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Lance Thrower - Jack Whyte

The Lance Thrower is the next-to-last book in the Camulod Chronicles by Jack Whyte, historical fiction writer. This book introduces Clothar the Frank, who mythically becomes known as Sir Lancelot.

This book begins with an aged Clothar, making one last visit to Brittania to make some things right by his old friend, Merlyn. He remembers his adventures...

...which start as a young boy in what today is France. The person he has always believed is his father, is Ban, king of Benwick. The story unfolds with Clothar learning of his true heritage and that he is to study under famed bishop Germanus, in Auxerre. Germanus has a school for boys, catering to the noble-born to learn high academics, leadership and warfare.

Once Clothar is finished with his school, he is on an errand back to his home when his world is turned upside down. His train is attacked and he finds himself alone in country. He eventually finds a mercenary that is willing to travel with him and guide him to Ban's army.

The middle portion of the book deals with the feuding that follows Ban's death. Ban's oldest son, Gunthar is an evil sociopath but Ban decreed that his second son, Samson is to be king. This causes what Clothar refers to as Gunthar's war, which ends abruptly and causes Clothar to reconsider his life, which has been war for many months.

Clothar decides that he is going back to see Germanus and serve his mentor. Germanus, who must soon leave for Italia to meet with the pope, sends messages to people in the far-off island of Brittania. One message is to be delivered to the bishop there, to have him orchestrate the crowning of a new high king. A young man named Arthur.

Clothar makes his way to Brittania, but his travels are not smooth and his initial months there frustrate him. He misses the coronation of Arthur and he has trouble finding Merlyn. But once he does, he delivers his messages and goes to find Arthur.

Most of this book is the building of Clothar's character. This is an excellent book with less narrative than some of the author's other books in the series. At times it is fast-paced but is also contemplative. As always, the historical background is full in Jack Whyte's books. This book leads into the final book in the series, The Eagle.

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