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Lancelot’s Curse by Sarah Luddington

My word this book has hurt my very soul. Finally, I was able to delve back into the world of Lancelot Du Lac, and our poor hero catches no breaks. As the story opens, he and his crew have recovered the mystical items Tarranis needs to defeat the Titans. But they are on the run because the gods have decided that they want Rhea’s death, except for Balar, however, who thinks to supplant his father by using the power of the Titans. Lancelot has Tancred, Rhea, Carwennan, and Nimue along for the journey and Nimue reigns as the most powerful and perhaps the most helpful. Tancred is fighting against perceived responsibilities to his shifter people and most importantly against Carwennan, who is quickly becoming a woman scorned and everyone knows it. There’s also the added conflict of Nimue’s sexual appetites, as sex actually fuels her power.

The group is moved from place to place, trying to find a way to bargain with the gods. Balar, however, steals the items, leaving no bargaining chip. They try to regain the items and face far more heartbreak along the way. Nimue proves herself a changed woman by nearly giving up her life to save Rhea. Her power bails them out of many tight spots, as well as her wealth of knowledge. Even when facing her own people, from whom she is outcast, she proves her worth time and time again. But the real heartbreak comes later.

*spoiler alert*

Lancelot is forced to make a deal to save the lives of all he cares about. Taranis will help him, keep him safe, and make Tancred’s shifting easier in exchange for Lancelot agreeing to walk away from everyone when the time comes. Lancelot agrees, and boy do we all regret it. Balar lures the group in and captures everyone. Lancelot discovers he cannot fight against a god, no matter how powerful he has become. The biggest heartbreak so far comes with Nimue’s rape and degredation by Balar. But the pain doesn’t stop, as Balar forces Lancelot to kill her, and she begs him for it. Balar, as a god, stopped her ability to feed off of sex, so he really and truly raped her and turned her into a victim. Lancelot struggles, but in the end, he does kill her. When at last Taranis intervenes it is too late. Nimue is dead and Lancelot bears a guilt he’s not felt before. For the first time, he has murdered a friend. Balar makes things worse, as in order for him to halt his rising against his father, he asks for Lancelot’s banishment. And though all try to fight against it, in the end, Lancelot promised Taranis he would walk away when the time came. So in order to save his friends, Albion, and Camelot, Lancelot must leave everyone behind.

What really gets me is Tancred’s heartbreak. If possible, I think I love him more than Lancelot, because he has been through nothing but pain. He’s the sweetest soul and deserves happiness, but no one will give it to him. Lancelot tries his best, but in the end, to save everyone, both he and Tancred must suffer.  This is the worst of all, knowing that according to Taranis they can never see each other again despite clearly being destined for each other. There’s no end to the heartbreak. I should probably take a small break to grieve before reading the next one.

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