The Camelot Papers follows Viviana, a literate slave girl who seems to have failed to develop the filter between brain and mouth that someone in her position should have by this point in her life. Rather than bringing on the loss of her head, her blunt and often inappropriate honesty endears her to a new generation of royals – including the hesitant, out-of-his-depth Arthur Pendragon and his queen, the hard-charging, unfeminine Guinevere. When Viviana is assigned as Guinevere’s handmaiden, she gains exclusive access to a world most can only dream of – the world behind the closed doors of the royal family…
“Never judge a book by its cover.” It’s an old adage, and often true, but never quite so much in recent memory as with The Camelot Papers – Peter David’s latest novel, and the first release from independent publishing house Crazy 8 Press. Don’t let the garish, tabloid-style cover fool you – this reimagining of Arthurian legend is more on par with Vanity Fair or Showtime’s critically acclaimed The Tudors than its Star Magazine-style cover would suggest.
The novel is written in journal format, as Viviana recounts her daily life as a servant to the throne. She is a fantastic storyteller (a fact that later becomes a major plot point). As a character, Viviana strains credulity, but as a narrator, she is delightful.
The real standout aspect of this novel is the social allegory. Modern concepts of politics, public relations and public perception slide seamlessly into this universe and never feel forced. At times, the storyline feels ripped from recent headlines, but one never gets the impression that the author is beating the reader over the head with his own point of view – all sides are represented and the overall picture is one of basically decent people doing the best they can to run the world with limited perspectives and skill.
Verdict: The Camelot Papers is a thought-provoking, insightful look at the power of perception and even the role of good fiction in shaping a historical narrative. At the same time, it never fails to deliver an engaging, entertaining story and characters you want to root for – or in some cases, see come to a violent end. Ignore the tabloid-style cover – this book deserved better. Highly recommended. 9/10
The Camelot Papers
by Peter David
Crazy 8 Press, out now