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The Winter King (The Arthur Books #1) Paperback – April 15, 1997
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Bernard Cornwell downplays the magic that enlivens the traditional stories, depicting it more as a combination of superstition and shrewd wits. I recommend this with reservations; though it's absorbing to read, the emphasis on battles and politics means that this will greatly appeal to some fantasy readers, but disappoint others.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top Customer Reviews
As always, Cornwell's fiction based-in-history is well researched and fast moving. And while the evidence of Arthur is inconclusive, his faithful depiction of Briton's warlords fighting each other, even while the dreaded Saxon's occupy the eastern half of the island, is fact. The ancient Pagan religion vies with the emerging Christianity for mind share of the populace, while Druids and Christian Priests intermingle with no love lost. It's been a couple of generations since the Roman's packed up and left, taking with them, it seems, any semblance of civilization, leaving the natives in awe of their knowledge. The once great Roman roads and cities have drifted into disrepair, and rival tribes raising armies and taxes to battle their brethren drain the land. In this war torn land, Cornwell's Arthur returns from service across the sea in Armorica (France). Arthur is not a king, but a noble and loyal leader sworn to protect the infant and crippled King Mordred, heir to the recently deceased Uther Pendragon, Briton's high king. While admittedly anachronisms, the author includes familiar figures from the legend: Merlin, Galahad, and Excalibur, but Lancelot is a cowardly fraud and Guinevere is a shallow and witchy seductress who inadvertently leads the courageous but naive Arthur into war that never should have been.Read more ›
Until I read this. My freind recommended this to me, saying "The Druids hop around on one foot in this book!" And that got me. (They actually do, in parts)
This book is highly imaginative. And while it does use parts of the later legends that irritate me in books that are marketed for their historical accuracy (yeah right), there is so much creative imagination in this book. The author sticks to the legends, but not so artificially that it's the same as any other series you've read.
Example one that I love:
We know very little about the Druids. But many authors take this fact and either 1)don't include a worthwile description of them or 2)just use a few simple facts that we do know over and over.
Instead, the author uses his knowledge as a scholar to invent some really strange but wonderful things, still managing to keep it realistic.
Another thing I loved in this book was the portrayal of the main three characters: Arthur, Lancelot, and Guenievere. So often you see them as these beautiful, shiny happy people. Not so in this book. They are dynamic individuals. Arthur is still his down to earth self, but he is selfish and rash. Lancelot is beautiful but a total flake and a jerk (the way I always thought he was). And Guenievere. The most dynamic of all. All she wants is to see the world at it's most beautiful, but you can tell that underneath it all is a layer of cold intelligence, a hard iron will.
Anyway, this book was unlike any other I've read. It was completely compelling.. I read it in 3 days.
I'll definetly recommend it over Steven Lawhead, Jack Whyte, Marrion Zimmer Bradley, and most of the others.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This totally novel retelling of the Arthurian legends makes Arthur both heroic and very pedestrian at the same time. Read morePublished 2 days ago by blooms
Fun read, hard to put down. I have always loved the different legends of Arthur and this is a very interesting and realistic telling. Highly recommended.Published 3 days ago by John Burroughs
This book for me was not an easy read. It starts a bit slow and I had a difficult time identifying the characters. I liked the story but I didn't identify very well with it.Published 3 days ago by Donald Ribellia
Another excellent book along the same lines as the Saxon series. I can't wait to get the next 2. This is a much different version of the Arthur stories I have heard in the past. Read morePublished 8 days ago by Amazon Customer
Interesting re-write of the familiar legend. The filth and grit of that period are up front and realistic. Read morePublished 10 days ago by Lee Robison