The beginning of this book does tend to unnerve people and confuse them. Lancelot is suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome and is a broken man. He is not a person, he is a combination of voices who live in the same body. He is physically alone but inside his mind he is one of many and his original voice almost non-existent.
I loved writing this section and it could have gone on much longer but I didn’t want to bore everyone and needed to pace the book, they are adventure stories after all. Those who have suffered any kind of mental breakdown will recognise the paranoia, the anxiety, the inability to deal with reality and the desire to escape. He is so fragile, broken down to the basics and ready to be rebuilt.
As with the subject of homosexuality, I wanted to do justice to men of war who can suffer from the oppression of causing death. It shouldn’t be easy to kill people, I fear it is to some, but it isn’t for most of us and Lancelot breaks under the burden. PTSS is a terrible illness and just because you can’t see it, mental illness is something that should be respected, not rejected.
The rest of the story rests on this platform. When Lancelot is found and saved he finally knows peace but in returning to Camelot he is once more faced with Arthur. How many of us have loved someone you can never quite release no matter how bad they are for you? I know I did, once. It was horrible. Poor Tancred recognises this and runs from Lancelot because he cannot fight Arthur. If it is any consolation I didn’t like Lancelot very much for leaving Tancred, but Arthur holds so much of him that it was inevitable.
Their adventures in the Land of the Dead and Albion, were great fun to write. The stuff of real adventure and danger. Unfortunately, I also saddled myself with mythology I cannot undo now it’s been written – so we have a slightly odd mix of Greek Titans and Celtic Gods… The Grail as a Celtic cauldron is something that occurred to me (and doubtless hundreds of others over the years) when I was at a storytelling evening at my local theatre. The Grail, as Christ’s last cup containing his blood through transubstantiation joined naturally in my writer’s mind with the Caludron of Bran which resurrects the dead to help fight the war in Ireland. I do not, in any way, mean to disrepect the Holy Grail or the Cauldron of Bran, it is merely my usual wrap and weft of a bard’s art making interesting links.
Albion is a land like England but the vibrations are such that the fey are capable of a form of magic lost in our world. It’s my hippy past coming out to play, when I did things that really could be classed as magic and mysticism. I don’t want to go into this in any detail as I don’t believe it’s healthy for me or the rest of the world.
Lancelot likes Albion, it’s easier for him, freer than Camelot and he is able to become himself more and more, but a version we’ve never seen before. A blend between the warrior and the pacifist. He starts to become a proper person, unfortunately he loses Tancred in the process. His mind becomes clearer, his personality softer and he finds himself a child to care for, which gives him good grounding. Rhea appeared from nowhere. I don’t have children, I don’t understand them but I did enjoy being that age. She is actually good fun and I think she acts as a fine balance for Lancelot who now can’t fall completely into his old patterns.
By the time the book closes, he is at peace, sort of, and is returning to Camelot with Arthur. The first three stories can be left here and I certainly intended to leave Lancelot at this point but he had other ideas and Tancred’s memory wouldn’t leave him alone. So we ended up thrashing out the next three books in the series, all focused on the Land of the Fey.
There are some serious surprises ahead for all our boys during the rest of the series.
The first part of Lancelot and the Grail is here: Lancelot And The Grail First Three Chapters