Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Coming of the King” as Want to Read:
The Coming of the King
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Coming of the King

3.26  ·  Rating Details ·  441 Ratings  ·  36 Reviews
The Coming of the King takes us into the world of Merlin, into the bright daylight and the deep shadows of Britain in what we call the Dark Ages. It is a world of warriors in love with slaughter and death, and also of poets and druids, a world of savage cruelty but also of intense natural beauty, of laughter and proud boasting, but also of magic and mysticism.

King Arthur s
Paperback, 848 pages
Published March 17th 1989 by Corgi (first published 1988)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Coming of the King, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

Jared Yes, it's well worth reading. But as I explain in my review, perhaps for most people it'll be something of an acquired taste.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Simon Mcleish
Jan 11, 2013 Simon Mcleish rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
Originally published on my blog here in December 2001.

This novel, the first of a projected trilogy which hasn't yet appeared (and probably never will), made quite a stir among my more literary friends when I was a student. As Arthurian fantasy goes, it is unique in several ways, and, while tedious in places, it is generally engrossing.

The title leads the reader to expect a Sword in the Stone scenario, with Merlin tutoring the boy Arthur, but in fact Tolstoy has completely separated the two chara
The medieval French interpreters of the Matter of Britain drew heavily upon the Celtic myths and folktales of Brittany and Great Britain when they wrote their own chivalric stories. The heroes of those earlier tales were seen by the French as uncouth and unchristian and they generally cast the native heroes as boorish and unmannered when compared with the "new" cultured French heroes.

Tolstoy has taken back the original traditions and shows these characters, warts and all, as people set within th
This book had huge amounts of potential that it didn't quite live up to. Tolstoy has wrote some great non fiction on British Dark Ages history and pre-Christian European religion (do your self a favor and read his book Quest for Merlin!) but as far as fiction his writing style just didn't flow well. It took some determination for me to get through it and I have a huge interest in the type of subject matter covered in this book. I'm not at all saying this book is bad, its just a disappointment co ...more
Jan 28, 2016 Micaela rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Holly Lindquist
Aug 31, 2009 Holly Lindquist rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: use-it-as-mulch
This book introduces the unfortunate phrase "trouserful of wantonness" in perhaps one of the worst descriptive paragraphs I've ever read. The entire book is yet more of the same. If English was the author's second language I might understand.. oh wait, he's from England. There is no excuse. (If you do read this book and come across the paragraph I mentioned, read it aloud to your best friend. See if they don't smack you.)
Oct 15, 2011 Sam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This version of the traditional Celtic mythology adds a new twist to the Arthurian tales by adding in hints, bits and suggestions from Scandinavian and Russian mythologies as well as the original Celtic tales. This combination makes for a unique series of stories that follows the king of the title (not the one you think) as he begins his quest to achieve power and rule his peoples well. In doing so he arrives at Merlin's grave where he speaks to his ghost rather than the man himself. This is a h ...more
Steven Malone
Nov 20, 2012 Steven Malone rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Excellent vision of the post-Arthurian Briton and the way and magic of the druid Myrddin. Highly reccomended for those interested in this area of fantasy or historical fiction. Explore everything Arthurian and ancient British from druidic shape-changing to Roman military science to Celtic lifestyles.
Mike S
Dec 09, 2012 Mike S rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction-sci-fi
This is a masterpiece, Nikolai Tolstoy did a tremendous amount of research to write this, the amount of imagination and detail that went into this book is astounding.

I really liked Michael's review.
It took me forever it read this freaking book! So dense and chewy. Oh, its about Merlin not God, deceptive title.
Jan 30, 2016 Katerine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Самое ужасное не то, что это начало очередного цикла, а то, что автор дальше писать не стал.

Густой замес из кельтских саг, Мабиногиона, скандинавских и древнегерманских сказаний, Калевалы, и чего еще только не. Пища не для слабых, потому что автор - отличный стилист. Я в какой-то момент пресытилась, книгу отложила, но день спустя вернулась: невозможно же не узнать, чем все закончилось, и кто победил.
Британия, остров Придайн, неподвижна в окружающем ее потоке времени. Во внешнем мире время неудер
Aug 30, 2011 Jared rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel is rather an acquired taste. Partly fantasy, partly a historical novel, partly a fanciful reflection upon the defunct pagan religions of Britain and its Germanic invaders, to best appreciate "The Coming of the King," one should first read (and probably study) and get the general "feel" of the tales, legends, and genealogies in Nennius' Historia Brittonum and the Welsh Annals, the sermon of St. Gildas on the downfall of Britain, the Mabinogion, the Welsh triads, the bardic poems in the ...more
Jul 24, 2011 dragonhelmuk rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 31, 2015 Sue rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was written in the style of the Norse sagas. I think Tolstoy often got carried away with this style and didn't pay enough attention to the subject matter and the plot. It seems as if about 200 pages or so of "style" could have been cut out and it would have made the book far more interesting and readable. Merlin as a baby and the final battle were very interesting sections but there was much more of the book that I felt as if I was slogging through. I rarely quit reading a book but I a ...more
Oct 31, 2015 Claire rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
When I was little, this type of novel was almost all I would read.

This is an excellent example of the genre, sweeping me back into the mode in which I would always read novels; however, I am not inclined to adore it, since the two follow-up novels in the trilogy have yet to be created, and it seems they will never be created.

I noticed the review that pointed out the weird part when I was very late in the book, hence I had not noticed anything amiss.

So, I am thankful for the chance to return to
Malcolm Burtt
A bit of a struggle to get through the preamble but once I was in it started to deliver. Still too early to say if it'll make it into the all time favourites list or, indeed, if I'll pick up another Tolstoy novel.

Now two months in and still struggling - I'm not going to let it beat me but I have to confess this is the first book in years that I have considered giving up on. Maybe its just all the Welsh names getting to me. :-)

Finally got to the end and can't say that it was worth the struggle bu
Aug 07, 2012 Ceri rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasty
I think I might need to give this book another go because, in it’s basic form, this is the sort of book that I would usually love. However I just found it too much hard work. There were too many characters and places with too similar names that were introduced so quickly and I just found that it was almost trying to be a difficult read in-order to seem intellectual. Maybe when I have more time to sit down and truly be absorbed by a book I will give this one another go, until then it will be left ...more
Nov 13, 2011 Paul rated it liked it
Shelves: arthurian
Professor of Arthurian Mythology has a crack at writing the historical fiction version of Arthur. The telling point of how well this was received is that the book calls itself "The First Book of Merlin". There was never a second. If The Sword in the Stone or Excalibur is your taste for Arthurian fiction then this is not the book for you. It's heavy on Celtic imagery, and the real world explanations of various Arthurian myths and elements may leave the unfamiliar scratching their heads.
Manny Perez
Descent book. It was like reading a mythology book. Very creative story and very in depth history of Merlin the magician. Some of the chapters were right out of a bad acid trip but very entertaining none the less. It took so long to finish this book because I kept going what the f#©k? Just read it for what it's worth and just ride the snake. Too detailed for me but some might disagree.
Edward Amato
Sep 26, 2015 Edward Amato rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This is the third book, that I can recall, that I was unable to finish. Boring, long
-winded, and never ending naming of names that had no meaning to me. A death in the family, a regional natural disaster or the total prolapse of my innards would have been a welcome interruption. Too many good reads out there then to bother with this.
Oct 03, 2015 Claire rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I could have sworn I had recorded my opinion of this earlier. It drew me down memory lane, as I had often read books much like it when I was younger. I didn't see that there was anything amiss, but I may not have been reading carefully, either.
Feb 17, 2012 Robin rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I can't rate this book low enough. I never finished it the writing was so bad. I passed it off on a friend who said she could read anything and she never finished it. Famous family bad writer. I'd never even pick up a book of his again in my life.
John Hudson
Jun 23, 2015 John Hudson rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Terribly boring, poorly written.
Mar 25, 2011 Jim rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Falling asleep just thinkinzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz...
Doris Raines
Mar 29, 2016 Doris Raines rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I. Like. This. Book. A. Lot. Why. Because. It. Has. A. Great. Beganning. And. Great. Ending.
It took two attempts to get through this tome, and the second try only succeeded because I had nothing else to read on a holiday trip to Italy.
Apr 24, 2008 Bettie☯ rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mythology
The Feasting of King Ceneu
Aug 24, 2011 Tanya rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Long winded, better than Peakes Dictionary of the Bible to get you to sleep.
Charity shop - here it comes.
A fairly dense story of Merlin and the Celts in early England, not to all tastes.
Sep 26, 2012 Howard added it
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Arthur Rex
  • Beloved Exile (Firelord, #2)
  • King Arthur
  • Sons of Avalon: Merlin's Prophecy
  • Sword at Sunset
  • The Child Queen: The Tale of Guinevere and King Arthur
  • The Pendragon
  • In Winter's Shadow
  • The Children of Llyr
  • Guinevere (Guinevere, #1)
  • Queen of the Summer Stars (Guinevere, #2)
  • The Prince and the Pilgrim (Arthurian Saga, #5)
  • In the Shadow of the Oak King (Dragon's Heirs, #1)
  • The Death of King Arthur
  • The Idylls of the Queen: A Tale of Queen Guenevere
  • The Dragon and the Unicorn (Arthor, #1)
  • King Arthur's Daughter
  • Mordred's Curse
Count Nikolai Dmitrievich Tolstoy-Miloslavsky (Russian: Николай Дмитриевич Толстой-Милославский; born 23 June 1935) is an Anglo-Russian author who writes under the name Nikolai Tolstoy. A member of the Tolstoy family, he is a former parliamentary candidate of the UK Independence Party.

Source: Wikipedia

The photograph by Justin K Prim.
More about Nikolai Tolstoy...

Share This Book