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Exiled from Camelot
Cherith Baldry
Green Knight Publishing, 312 pages

Richard Pace
Exiled from Camelot
Cherith Baldry

Cherith Baldry was born in Lancaster, England, and studied at the University of Manchester and St. Anne's College, Oxford. She was a teacher at the University of Sierra Leone, West Africa. Cherith is now a full-time writer, mostly of children's books. These include Cradoc's Quest, Rite of Brotherhood, and Storm Wind, which make up the Saga of the Six Worlds. Other titles include Drew's Talents and Mutiny in Space. Her main interests are fantasy and science fiction, and she is currently working on a children's fantasy, The Eaglesmount Trilogy, which should appear in 2001. She has a special interest in Arthurian legend, and has published several short stories in which she explores the character of Sir Kay.

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Green Knight Publishing
Publisher's page for Exiled from Camelot

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Georges T. Dodds

Exiled from Camelot is a novel which continues Cherith Baldry's interest in the character of Sir Kay, Arthur's senechal and foster brother. In this novel she departs from the standard Arthurian romance of the Chrétien de Troyes and Sir Thomas Malory mold, to bring us a finely crafted tale that focuses on the trials of Kay, a knight usually depicted as a curmudgeonly bureaucrat, but whom she puts in a position where he must save Arthur, who has renounced him, from the scheming enchantress Brisane.

The tale begins with the sudden arrival in Camelot of Loholt, an unlikeable young man whose claims to be Arthur's bastard son and whom Arthur accepts as his heir. When Briant captures Carlisle, Arthur leads a punitive expedition. Ambushed and on the run, Arthur sends Loholt home with Kay and a small guard. They are captured and Kay, escaping from torture at the hands of his captors, is forced to kill Loholt who both attempts to thwart his escape and to show himself a traitor to his father. When Kay confesses to Arthur that he has killed his son, his honour and love for Arthur preclude him from telling the whole story. Exiled and stripped of his knighthood, Kay is taken in by Briant, where he quickly learns that Briant's mistress, the enchantress Brisane, is seeking to overthrow Arthur by planting doubts in his mind about the loyalty of his top knights. Kay is torn by his inability to make his warnings heard and his nascent duty to the oppressed people of Briant's manor "Roche Dure," but in the end his is instrumental in the thwarting Brisane's plans.

Exiled from Camelot shows an excellent and detailed characterization of the main characters, an obvious extensive knowledge of the Arthurian milieu, and a series of believable (in context) moral dilemmas typical of this sort of literature. However, Cherith Baldry's prose, while clear and straightforward, lacked a certain something, perhaps a certain archaism, which left, at least in my case, a certain missing element to the necessary atmosphere. However, it is this same element that would probably lead many current readers to recent retellings of Arthurian mythology, rather than the original texts or such works as Tennyson's The Idylls of the King or the recently reprinted The Life of Sir Aglovale de Galis by Clemence Housman.

Exiled from Camelot is a worthwhile read if for no other reason than it gives one an insight into an otherwise neglected character in the Arthurian story, and in diverging as it does from the standard tales of Merlin, Lancelot, Perceval, Gawain, Camelot, The Holy Grail and so on, it enriches the tradition of the Arthurian tale.

Copyright © 2001 Georges T. Dodds

Georges Dodds is a research scientist in vegetable crop physiology, who for close to 25 years has read and collected close to 2000 titles of predominantly pre-1950 science-fiction and fantasy, both in English and French. He writes columns on early imaginative literature for WARP, the newsletter/fanzine of the Montreal Science Fiction and Fantasy Association and maintains a site reflecting his tastes in imaginative literature.

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