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The King's Peace (The King's Peace, Book 1) Hardcover – Bargain Price, September 30, 2000

Book 1 of 3 in the Sulien Series

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Hardcover, Bargain Price, September 30, 2000
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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

This variant of the Arthurian tales begins with Sulien apGwien's encounter with Jamish raiders, which makes her a lifelong foe of those invaders of her native Tir Tanagiri and draws her into supporting King Urdo, who rules at Caer Tanaga. He seeks to unite the squabbling nobles to drive out the invaders and restore peace. Walton writes with almost poetic skill, and the world she constructs is finely built despite the obviousness of her variations on Celtic and Norse cultures. She exercises her creativity more in realizing the Vincan empire and the local variant of Christianity. So open an adaptation of the Arthurian tales can hardly claim originality; it must stand or fall on its execution, which in this case is most worthy. Roland Green
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"A nicely paced, unpredictable plot that keeps the reader guessing who might be back-stabbing whom, coupled with musical language and natural conversations, sets this well above the fantasy average."
--Publishers Weekly
"Thoughtfully reweaves Arthurian legend with history into a vivid, fluent narrative."
--Kirkus Reviews
"A richly woven narrative, this debut novel from Jo Walton depicts a meticulously researched alternate account of the Arthurian legend."
--RT Book Reviews
"Walton writes with almost poetic skill, and the world she constructs is finely built."
"Jo Walton's splendid re-imagining of the Matter of Britain has a rich immediacy that calls to mind the best of Thomas Malory and Rudyard Kipling. The King's Peace is the novel that The Mists of Avalon should have been." --Debra Doyle

"The people, the politics, the details of warfare and daily life, all ring as true as the steel sword the heroine wields so doughtily. This is much more than a retooling of the Matter of Britain: it is a fully-imagined, living, magical world." --Delia Sherman

"There is not an ill-written sentence...Never lacks immediacy or loses its historical quality. Sulien is a soldier first, honorable, capable, and trustworthy, and she is a wonderfully believable character." --VOYA

"A truly engrossing character-driven novel with strong female characters...Highly recommended." --Vector

"I really liked this sideways take on the Matter of Britain and I highly recommend it." --Mythprint
"Walton writes with an authenticity that never loses heart, a rare combination in a genre where we are so often offered one or the other. The King's Peace is a proof that no matter how mined-out a subject may seen, a dedicated writer can dig down to a true vein of legend and hammer out gold." -Robin Hobb

"Beautifully and thought-provokingly tells a story set in a world and a history almost like ours, but different enough to be in itself a kind of elvenland. It's good to know that there will be more." -Poul Anderson
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; 1st edition (September 30, 2000)
  • ISBN-10: 0312872291
  • ASIN: B000H2M70W
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.1 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,613,721 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jo Walton has published eleven novels, three poetry collections, and an essay collection, with another novel due out in July 2015. She won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 2002, the World Fantasy Award in 2004 for Tooth and Claw, and the Hugo and Nebula awards in 2012 for Among Others. She comes from Wales but lives in Montreal where the food and books are much better. She writes science fiction and fantasy, reads a lot, talks about books, and eats great food. She plans to live to be ninety-nine and write a book every year.

Her livejournal, with wordcount, poetry, recipes and occasional actual journalling, is at: She also blogs about old books at

Her real grown up website with info about her books, stories, plays and poetry is at


The King's Peace (Tor 2000)
The King's Name (Tor 2001)
The Prize in the Game (Tor 2002)
Tooth and Claw (Tor 2003, reprinted Orb 2009)
Farthing (Tor 2006)
Ha'Penny (Tor 2007)
Half a Crown (Tor 2008)
Lifelode (NESFA 2009)
Among Others (Tor 2011)
My Real Children (Tor 2014)
The Just City (Tor 2015)

The Philosopher Kings -- forthcoming July 2015

Poetry Collections

Muses and Lurkers (Rune Press 2001)
Sibyls and Spaceships (NESFA 2009)
The Helix and the Hard Road (Aqueduct 2013)

Essay Collection

What Makes This Book So Great (Tor 2014).


Copper Cylinder Award (Among Others 2012)

Hugo: (Among Others 2012)

John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, 2002

Kurd Lasswitz Award (for Among Others, 2014)

Mythopoeic Award (for Lifelode, 2010)

Nebula Award (for Among Others, 2012)

Prometheus Award (for Ha'Penny) 2008

Robert Holdstock Award (Among Others, 2012)

Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice Award (for Farthing) 2007
Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice Award (for Half a Crown) 2009
Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice Award (for Among Others 2012)

World Fantasy Award (for Tooth and Claw) 2004

Award Nominations

Indie Lit Awards: (Among Others 2012)
John W. Campbell Memorial (Farthing 2007)
Lambda (SF with gay/lesbian issues) (Ha'Penny 2008)
Locus (Farthing 2007, Among Others 2012)
Mythopoeic (Among Others 2012)
Nebula (Farthing 2007)
Prometheus (Libertarian) (Half a Crown 2009)
Quill (Farthing 2007)
Rhysling (SF poetry) (2007: "Candlemass Poem", in Lone Star Stories, Feb 2006)
Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice (Ha'Penny 2008, My Real Children 2014)
Seiun (Best work translated into Japanese) (Farthing, Ha'Penny, Half a Crown 2011)
Sidewise (Alternate History) (Farthing 2007, Ha'Penny 2008, Half a Crown 2009)
Sunburst (Canadian Literature of the Fantastic) (Half a Crown 2009)
Tiptree Honor (Lifelode 2010)
World Fantasy Award (Among Others 2012)

Customer Reviews

She didn't care about anything else, and that was boring.
David Wilkin
I found this very effective in giving the world a sense of being real, and plausible, and consistent, while also making the world definitely fantastical.
Richard R. Horton
This book is a beautiful remake of the Arthurian legend set in a fantasy world.
Daniella Antilla

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

43 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Virginia E. Demarce on October 24, 2000
Format: Hardcover
People who are looking for a retelling of the Arthurian legends are going to be sadly disappointed by this book. While it has an inspiration stemming from the aftermath of the Roman withdrawal from Britain, it is "Arthurian" only in the sense that Guy Gavriel Kay's "Sailing to Sarantium" is Byzantine. It's not a retelling of either history or legend. Rather, it is the creation of a different society (as in the dramatically different status of women from that of the historical European early Middle Ages), a different religion (the religion of the White God has many parallels to Christianity, but they are not exact), and a different set of developments, with only loose parallels to the original.
From my personal perspective, the most refreshing aspect was the absence of a Merlin-figure and the author's heroic restraint from turning the queen, Elenn, into Guinevere. Overall, there is refreshingly little romanticism.
The voice of the writer, that of Sulien, is that of an elderly (very elderly, age 93) woman looking backwards. The style is an excellent approximation of late Latin chronicles. There is violence, there is heroism, and there is also, praises be, a high valuation placed on common sense and practicality.
The ending leaves open the possibility of a sequel. I hope it comes soon.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful By booksforabuck VINE VOICE on December 24, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Jo Walton brings fantasy to a retelling of the King Arthur legend. In her version, the gods are very real and present. The White God (the counterpart to the God of the Christians) claims to rule over all, but the other gods resist.
Jarnish raiders (counterpart to the Saxons and Angles who invaded post-Roman Britain) continue to attack AlTanagiri (Britain) and catch 17-year old Sulien ap Gwien and rape her. She vows revenge, then joins with Urdo (Arthur) and his horsemen (and women). Urdo is trying to carve out a true peace where the Jarns can live in peace with the traditional inhabitants, subject to a common set of laws and with respect to all the gods. He is, of course, opposed by both Jarns and many of his own people who see his acceptance of the invaders as betrayal.
Jo Walton chooses to present this story as a retrospective from an aging Sulien--a technique that cannot help but distance the reader. Too, she occasionally slips into a fairly ponderous version of English, possibly to represent the mythical nature of her story. Walton's story, with its mythical power and its appeal to very real emotions, overcomes these devices to speak to the reader.
This is a highly credible first novel. I look forward to future works by Walton.
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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Richard R. Horton on October 18, 2000
Format: Hardcover
The King's Peace is an absorbing book, full of action and battles and treachery, which nonetheless reads almost quietly. This is because it is at heart about a rather philosophical subject: the creation of a nation. In this case, a nation is seen as a people united in "Peace", obeying a "Law".
The book is fairly obviously based in some sense on the Matter of Britain: the story of King Arthur. But it seems a mistake to make too much of this source material. It is not intended as a strict retelling of the Arthurian tales, nor even as a fantastical retelling of a version of the real history of Arthur, or of other kings of his time. It is a fantasy set in a world shaped much like our world, in a time corresponding pretty closely to the 7th Century after Christ, and specifically set on an island resembling Great Britain. But while for some characters a corresponding character can be found in the Arthurian tales, not all the characters can be easily mapped to the legendary characters, nor do the available mappings fit perfectly, nor do all the incidents in the book correspond to incidents from the legends. And the world of the book is neither our world, nor a fantasy world corresponding to traditional versions of the Arthurian tales. This novel needs to be judged on its own virtues: the Arthurian echoes are certainly there, and perhaps they are unavoidable in a novel by a contemporary Welshwoman dealing with the subject matter of making a nation of the people of Great Britain, but they are echoes of inspirational material, not any sort of strict template.
The story itself is told by Sulien ap Gwien, a woman warrior, daughter of the King of a small part of the island of Tir Tanagiri.
Read more ›
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Heather A. Nicoll on October 9, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I have been saying "You want this book" to everyone I know who might possibly be able to come close to it, and I do mean it. A world almost but not quite ours, a sense of magic that underlies that world and is as real within it as its air and its gods, a story spanning the great events of its world without seeming grandiose, real, present characters whose dialogue is a delight to read, occasionally out loud to anyone who will stay still long enough to hear out those sentences.
Not only a captivating story, with real people to it, but one with depths of meaning that echo off things I knew, things I almost remember, and leaving me with places where I know that if I knew a little more about this myth, that branch of philosophy, or the other nuance of history, whole new nuances would Unfold to me like a revelation from the gods.
You want this book. Even if you didn't know you wanted this book, you want it.
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