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Under Camelotís Banner    by Sarah Zettel order for
Under Camelotís Banner
by Sarah Zettel
Order:  USA  Can
Luna, 2006 (2006)
* *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

Sarah Zettel presents the third installment of her wonderful series that follows the lives, adventures and loves of noble brothers Gewain, Geriant, Gareth and Agravain - sons of King Lot and nephews to King Arthur. Under Camelot's Banner features Gareth, youngest of the brothers who has been elevated to squire to Sir Lancelot. He still has much to learn of life and the political, romantic and magical intrigues that are so much a part of the kingdom. Gareth wants to achieve knighthood and fame in his own right, but thus far, he has achieved neither. Indeed, his many dalliances with ladies of the court bring him nothing but embarrassment and growing scorn. When Gareth answers a slanderous challenge from Arthur's trusted seneschal and half-brother, Sir Kai, and loses, thus embarrassing himself and Lancelot, the furious knight banishes Gareth to menial servitude 'until you can prove you are fit to take orders from a man'. But when Lynet Carnbrea comes to Camelot requesting aid to help stop an impending war, Gareth sees a chance to redeem himself.

As a young girl Lynet Carnbrea is sent to Tintagel for fostering with Queen Iseult and 'with a child's heedless and infatuated willingness, she helped cuckold a king'. After Sir Tristan's murder at the hands of King Mark, and then Iseult's suicide, the king banishes Lynet from Tintagel, proclaiming 'Let her go back to her father's house and tell him what she has done, and let me never see her face again'. Her father refuses her request to take the veil, and for two years she bears the condemnation of many, including the two chieftains who have now come to the kingdom of Camliard seeking justice for murder. Now they hold Lynet's elder sister Laurel hostage and it's up to Lynet to make the dangerous journey to Camelot and beg the help of Queen Guinevere, who is the only one who can save her hereditary kingdom from political treachery and Morgaine's growing web of magic.

Zettel has woven a beautifully written tale of honor, chivalry, courtly love and political intrigue. Infused in this already rich tapestry are the magical machinations of Morgaine and her ongoing quest to destroy Arthur, his Queen, and their kingdom. The author also gives readers a glimpse of the relationship between Guinevere and Lancelot, and puts an interesting spin on it, hinting that there might have been another behind the initiation of their treasonous romance. Unfortunately I didn't find myself as invested in Gareth and Lynet's romance, which only seemed to blossom during the last quarter of the story. Even then, their attraction seemed a bit thin, for Gareth spent a good portion of the story trying to prove himself to Lancelot, while Lynet's thoughts and actions were entirely centered on protecting her sister and their home. As a whole though, Under Camelot's Banner is another marvelously rich, complicated and compelling story, and I look forward to the tale of Agravain, the last and most difficult of the four brothers.

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