Camelot Burning (Metal & Lace #1)
by Kathryn Rose
published by Flux
expected release date: May 8, 2014
genre: Steampunk, retellings, author debut
**e-galley received from netGalley/publisher in exchange for honest review.
Summary (Goodreads): By day, Vivienne is Guinevere's lady-in-waiting. By night, she's Merlin's secret apprentice, indulging in the new mechanical arts and science of alchemy. It's a preferred distraction from Camelot’s gossipy nobility, roguish knights, and Lancelot’s athletic new squire, Marcus, who will follow in all knights’ footsteps by taking a rather inconvenient vow of chastity.
More than anything, Vivienne longs to escape Camelot for a future that wouldn't include needlework or marriage to a boorish lord or dandy. But when King Arthur's sorceress sister, Morgan le Fay, threatens Camelot, Vivienne must stay to help Merlin build a steam-powered weapon to defeat the dark magic machine Morgan will set upon the castle. Because if Camelot falls, Morgan would be that much closer to finding the elusive Holy Grail. Time is running out and Morgan draws near, and if Vivienne doesn't have Merlin's weapon ready soon, lives would pay the price, including that of Marcus, the only one fast enough to activate it on the battlefield.
My Thoughts: This story combines steampunk and a loose interpretation of Arthurian legend. The author did a good job with good vs evil aspects of this story, represented in the better known Arthur/Morgan and also machine/ magic.
Vivienne was a curious and interesting character. She played the part of the lady in waiting to the Guinevere but did not thin twice about running off to Merlin's tower whenever she could (which was more often than you would think). I liked how many of her reactions were not that of the normal court lady. She spoke up even when she shouldn't and was more likely to be found standing by the knights in a battle than hiding in the castle. Her relationship with Marcus was odd/awkward. Not really sure how I feel about it. It seemed to be there more to move certain plots along or create tension between characters.
One of my main problems with this book was the feeling that things were missing. Vivienne's whole relationship with Azur was never explained and yet we are supposed to understand why he would expect her to leave Camelot with him to get away from everything happening. I took it to mean they had met before but don't know more than that. There was also Arthur's metal, it was just a big and well guarded thing but I never really understood the when/how it got to where it was and why.
Also, the final battle was a little lack luster, there was a lot happening but the death's of Morgan and Mordred just seemed to happen too quickly. The story was in the heat of battle and then the next sentence they are dead. There was more to the earlier battle than this main part. I had to reread the paragraph a couple of times to figure out what exactly happened.
That being said, I still enjoyed the story overall. The riddles from the Lady of the Lake and why Vivienne knows where the Holy Grail is and how she is going to help bring Camelot back. I can see myself taking the time to read book 2.