It takes a remarkable writer to make an old story as fresh and compelling as the first time we heard it. With The Winter King, the first volume of his magnificent Warlord Chronicles, Bernard Cornwell finally turns to the story he was born to write: the mythic saga of King Arthur.
The tale begins in Dark Age Britain, a land where Arthur has been banished and Merlin has disappeared, where a child-king sits unprotected on the throne, where religion vies with magic for the souls of the people. It is to this desperate land that Arthur returns, a man at once utterly human and truly heroic: a man of honor, loyalty, and amazing valor; a man who loves Guinevere more passionately than he should; a man whose life is at once tragic and triumphant.
As Arthur fights to keep a flicker of civilization alive in a barbaric world, Bernard Cornwell makes a familiar tale into a legend all over again.
Arthurian literature may be a worldwide cottage industry, but Cornwell, author of the Sharpe series of historical military adventures (Sharpe's Battle, etc.) stands out from the crowd with this exemplary kickoff to a trilogy about the legendary warrior-king. Cornwell's Arthur is fierce, dedicated and complex, a man with many problems, most of his own making. His impulsive decisions sometimes have tragic ramifications, as when he lustfully takes Guinevere instead of the intended Ceinwyn, alienating his friends and allies and inspiring a bloody battle. The secondary characters are equally unexpected, and are ribboned with the magic and superstition of the times. Merlin impresses as a remarkable personage, a crafty schemer fond of deceit and disguise. Lancelot is portrayed as a warrior-pretender, a dishonest charmer with dark plans of his own; by contrast, Galahad seems the noble soldier of purpose and dedication. Guinevere, meanwhile, no gentle creature waiting patiently in the moonlight, has designs and plots of her own. The story of these characters and others is narrated forcefully and with dry wit by Derfel Cadarn, one of Arthur's warriors, who later becomes a monk. Cornwell knows his history--the battle scenes are particularly fine--but not once does it get in the way of people of flesh and blood meeting on a darkened field of combat. Author tour.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Outstanding in every way.
I have to be honest I've owned all 3 books for several years. These are the only books I've read multiple times. I just finished my fifth time reading them. I love this trilogy my favorite book series, even over GoT. I get so into this story and it feels so believable. This is now what I think of as the story of King Arthur. Explainable magic and old world superstition mixed with a new and growing christian community is perfect even in today's world.
Bernard Cornwell's Warlord Chronicle series presents the most compelling and believable Arthurian saga ever written. He brilliantly captures the intrigue of the era, the vacuum created by withdrawal of Roman forces from Britain: competing kingdoms and warlords, the Saxon invasion, the reluctant wane of mystical Druidism and other old religions, and ascendancy of an often fanatical splinter of Christianity. In this perfect storm of chaos, Cornwell develops each of the Arthurian characters so fully that you are literally transported alongside them to share their struggles, challenges, woes and wonders.