Tag Archives: arthur

excalibur

Excalibur (Warlord Chronicles #3) by Bernard Cornwell

From Goodreads:

In The Winter King and Enemy of God Bernard Cornwell demonstrated his astonishing ability to make the oft-told legend of King Arthur fresh and new for our time. Now, in this riveting final volume of The Warlord Chronicles, Cornwell tells the unforgettable tale of Arthur’s final struggles against the Saxons and his last attempts to triumph over a ruined marriage and ravaged dreams.

This is the tale not only of a broken love remade, but also of forces both earthly and unearthly that threaten everything Arthur stands for. Peopled by princesses and bards, by warriors and magicians, Excalibur is the story of love, war, loyalty, and betrayal-the work of a magnificent storyteller at the height of his powers.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

There is a tendency among many authors to keep a good idea going and going until they degrade the story and spoil it. It’s a refreshing change to see a traditional trilogy and to see it completed with no hints of more to come. The Arthurian legend naturally limits the story of course, but it’s still nice to have it finish completely.

Overall I’ve really enjoyed this version of Arthur. His story and that of the rest of the characters are portrayed in a very unique way and solidly placed within the history of ancient Britons. The arrival of Saxons and Christianity is particularly interesting for anyone that has already read the Last Kingdom books by the same author.

This last chapter deals mainly with the rise of Christianity and the final decline of the pagan Gods of Britain. It folds the final pieces of our characters’ stories into this and also melds the Arthurian story with them. This is done really, really well. Lots of questions are answered especially filling in the final pieces of Derfel’s story. However, despite delivering a very satisfying conclusion the overall feeling is one of sadness at the end.

The introduction of one new character has prompted me to rediscover another author from a long time ago. The new character is Taliesin the Bard who features heavily in another Arthurian based storyline by Stephen Lawhead called The Pendragon Cycle.

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enemy of god

Enemy of God (Warlord Chronicles #2) by Bernard Cornwell

From Goodreads:

The balance of King Arthur’s unified kingdom is threatened by Merlin’s quest for the last of Britain’s 13 Treasures; by the conflict between the ancient religion and the new Christianity; and by Britain’s war with the Saxons. A master storyteller continues his retelling of the Arthurian legend.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The first book introduced us to a new version of Arthur and the Arthurian story but this second installment takes it to anther level.

Derfel is still our guide. He’s a grown man now, Arthur’s trusted friend and key to the success of Arthur’s plans. He’s in love with the beautiful princess but it’s not a fairytale story for them. We also see him in his later years as he continues to write the story for the young Queen Igraine and there are tantalising hints of what happens to him through the years to bring him into Sansum’s care.

The story is obviously based around the Arthurian legends but this is a much darker tale than the traditional stories of gallantry, romance and chivalrous knights and so much better for it. The author takes the traditional characters and layers then with ambition, violence and even downright evil on occasion. It’s probably much closer to the truth!

This isn’t a particularly long book but it’s packed full of detail from the storyline to character development that it seems long – in a really good way though. When it finished I just wanted it to keep going, thankfully there’s a third instalment still to come!

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the winter king

The Winter King (The Warlord Chronicles #1) by Bernard Cornwell

From Goodreads:

Uther, the High King, has died, leaving the infant Mordred as his only heir. His uncle, the loyal and gifted warlord Arthur, now rules as caretaker for a country which has fallen into chaos – threats emerge from within the British kingdoms while vicious Saxon armies stand ready to invade. As he struggles to unite Britain and hold back the enemy at the gates, Arthur is embroiled in a doomed romance with beautiful Guinevere. Will the old-world magic of Merlin be enough to turn the tide of war in his favour?

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

A very original take on the story of King Arthur, Merlin and the Knights of the Round Table. It’s written as a retrospective from the point of view of Derfel, a young British orphan and eventual friend of Arthur, now in his latter years.

This is similar to the author’s Last Kingdom novels and the similarities don’t end there. In fact it took me a while to shake the feeling I was reading another chapter of Uhtred’s life.

Once over that this was a great read. There are a number of great characters and just enough of the Arthur legend to make it seem familiar. If this first book is a true reflection of the rest of the series then it should be a cracker!

Header image by Ricardo Esquivel from Pexels