Where did The Knights of Camelot come from? It’s a long story.
I was reading The Knight of the Cart, Chretien de Troyes stories about Lancelot and his love for Guinevere, written for Marie of France, Countess of Champagne, daughter of Eleanor of Aquitaine. I’d also been watching the BBC series Merlin and Spartacus began. All this coalesced in my addled mind and Lancelot, my version, came into being. Within twelve weeks I had the first draft finished, another twelve and Lancelot and the Sword was done, quickly followed by Lancelot and the Grail. It was a busy year.
I realised several things when I began writing these books. One, Arthur never punishes Lancelot for his affair with Guinevere. She is the one tied to the stake and Lancelot is forced to kill his friend to save her life (I believe this is Mallory’s version). Two, Lancelot loves Guinevere, but he also loves Arthur. His guilt over this love is acknowledged through his failure to touch the Grail. He sees it in a vision, but his love for his Queen steals his chances for true bliss. He is broken by this experience. Three, a medieval knight is not a man to tangle with lightly. He loves Guinevere in the stories and rejects all other women – see The Lady of Shallot – for the most heartbreaking version. Why does he love the unattainable? Why does any man? Perhaps because he cannot open his heart enough for a normal love. He is a warrior, a man set apart by society to kill others in battle. His love for the Queen is a reflection of his separation, even from his peers for his undeniable prowess. Four, the original stories are full of fanciful notions of Griffins, fairies, Green Men, witches and spells of love and weakness. Gawain’s adventures are a fine example of how such magic existed alongside the real battles and tournaments of court life. The original Welsh texts are graced with mystery and magic in the great Celtic traditions.