Camelot, by Colin Thompson

Long ago in a faraway land, nearly halfway between somewhere over the rainbow and 23 Paradise St Arcadia, was a magical land called Avalon.
And at the heart of Avalon was a magical castle called Camelot.
And at the heart of Camelot lived a mighty King called Uther-Pendragon. Camelot was a fabulous place, so fabulous indeed that it was almost impossible to believe it really existed and wasn’t just a wonderful dream.
Even the greatest stories written about it did not do it justice. It was the ultimate castle, more magnificent and vast than the next ten best castles added together. It wasn’t just staggeringly gorgeous, it was staggeringly big too. It didn’t have one room for each day of the year, it had eleven and a half.

Camelot is the first in a new series (The Dragons) for Colin Thompson. The series is set in the time of King Arthur and his legendary home Camelot. But this is not the Camelot that readers might know from other novels or films. Arthur is an 11-year-old child and a particularly unimpressive one at that. He’s vain, stupid, mean and much more. No one in the palace likes him much, except for his long-suffering nanny. Merlin finds him almost unbearable, except that Arthur’s stupidity allows the magician to run the kingdom with little interference. Add in Arthur’s sister, endangered and incontinent dragons, deep lakes, dangerous moats, fireproof foundlings and not very brave knights and Camelot is almost complete. There are advertisements scattered through. Who wouldn’t want to visit Downwind Island where staff will ensure you feel useless? And in case you wanted to know how to speak like an upperclass twit – the instructions are also included.

Colin Thompson’s new series is full of as many absurdities and twisty-turny plot threads as his previous series ‘The Floods’ was. Characters are never quite as they seem, and generally evolve to be worse, better, uglier, nicer, lovelier, dumber than they first seem. The first book in a new series has a lot to do, introducing a new world and setting up the following episodes. It never feels weighted down for all the ‘plot plants’ that are here. Some plot threads appear to peter out, and others are neatly tied. Others promise adventures to come. The pace is cracking. Truly horrible and gory details abound. Footnotes give the reader extra details or sometimes just little insights into Thompson’s childhood. Chapters are introduced with a brief and illustrated scene setting. Recommended for confident primary readers and fans of ‘The Floods’.

The Dragons: Camelot, Colin Thompson
Random House 2009
ISBN: 9781741663815

Camelot: No. 1: Camelot (Dragons)

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author

This book can be purchased online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.