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The Killing Way (The Arthurian Mysteries #1)

3.55  ·  Rating Details ·  301 Ratings  ·  77 Reviews
It is the time of Arthur, but this is nothis storied epic.Arthur is a young and powerful warrior who some would say stands on the brink of legend.Britain’s leaders have come to elect a new supreme king, and Arthur is favored.Butwhen a young woman is brutally murdered and the blame is placed at Merlin’s feet, Arthur’s reputation is at stake and his enemies are poised to str ...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published March 31st 2009 by Forge Books
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Ranting Dragon
Aug 13, 2011 Ranting Dragon rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: caleigh

The Killing Way by Tony Hays is marked “an Arthurian mystery” on the front cover, a brilliant concept that immediately drew my attention. More of a historical mystery than a fantasy — though with Druidic magic still at the forefront of everyone’s minds — The Killing Way begins the story of Malgwyn ap Cuneglas, Arthur’s most trusted friend. Malgwyn reluctantly becomes embroiled in a murder mystery involving all of Arthur’s court and a dangerous plot to over
Now I've read a handful of historical mysteries, I'm starting to see trends -- the interest in the physical things surrounding the stories: how this was built or by whom, what purpose this serves, etc. I'm really not so interested in that: I know how castles are built, and often by whom, or at least what particular purpose they've served, and I am far more interested in reading about people.

Fortunately, to some extent, I can say that Tony Hays delivers both. He invents the central character, the
Jul 07, 2016 Gretchen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not a believer in the myth of King Arthur? Read this book. It just might change your mind. Here is an author who does a brilliant job of stripping down the myth of King Arthur. Remove all of the mystic and what are you left with? A British man who has adopted Roman ways and struggles to maintain order between old ways and new beliefs. Even if you aren't a fan of the Arthur mythology, this book is worth reading for Malgwyn.
A reread in preparation for my dissertation. I remembered Tony Hays' betrayal of Kay -- very human, noble and capable, without any influence from the later traditions. He isn't much of a seneschal figure here, but given that Arthur is an active king and not set dressing, it makes sense that Kay (always so closely linked to him) is active and capable too.

Overall, it's an interesting enough story and easy to read: it kept my attention despite being a reread, and it's full of interesting characters
This Arthurian mystery is told from the perspective of “Mad Malgwyn,” a former soldier who became a drunken disgrace after he lost his wife and after Lord Arthur saved him on the battlefield. Malgwyn hated Arthur for saving his life after his arm was severed, believing death is preferable to life as a one-armed man. Despite his downfall, he is chosen to investigate the murder of a servant girl, using his 6th century forensic knowledge. Of course, nothing is quite as it seems, and the murder of a ...more
Nov 10, 2011 Miles rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is the time of Arthur, but this is not his storied epic. Arthur is a young and powerful warrior who some would say stands on the brink of legend. Britain's leaders have come to elect a new supreme king, and Arthur is favored. But when a young woman is brutally murdered and the blame is placed at Merlin's feet, Arthur's reputation is at stake and his enemies are poised to strike. Arthur turns to Malgwyn ap Cuneglas, a man whose knowledge of battle and keen insight into how the human mind works ...more
Jul 20, 2009 Forrest rated it liked it
Shelves: library-read
This was an exceptionally well written book, and I blew through it pretty quickly. It was definitely an interesting concept, a story billed as "An Arthurian Mystery". I have to admit that with the rather dull cover artwork (library edition), I would have given this a pass if it had not mentioned the "Arthurian mystery" bit on it.

Also, I have to be perfectly candid about one thing. This book felt like the author took most of the characters and background from the various Arthur books that attemp
Rather than being the Arthurian epic of battle, intrigue and bloodshed that I was expecting, it feels a lot more like a standard fare modern murder mystery pattern but dressed up in a Dark Ages costume.
A slightly irritating routine also becomes apparent that the author attempted to cover up this relatively simple mechanism by trying to make the dialogue more wordy but more sounding pretentious than poetic, like a script you'd expect to hear at a Renaissance Fair play rather than an articulate sp
Kathy Doll
Sorry, this book didn't stand out in any way, shape or form, for me. I give it a general review of 'meh'.

Told from the viewpoint of Malgwyn, who once was a soldier in Arthur's army, but since the loss of an arm in battle, is now a self pitying drunk. Maidens are killed in the village, and Malgwyn gets to the bottom of the mystery of how they died by the end of the book.

The story itself is good enough, but I was much annoyed by the dialogue throughout. Too many 'Twas's, 'Tis's, Aye's and other af
Nov 22, 2009 Phair rated it liked it
For some reason I found this book very soothing despite it being a murder mystery. I felt comfortable with "Mad Malgwyn", the protagonist and I felt in some way included in his adventure and was happy to keep coming back into his world. The story is set in the court of Arthur just prior to his election as high king of the tribes uniting against the invading Saxons. There are only the germs of the familiar Arthurian story here. This is more rooted in possible history than in legend. The perps we ...more
Richard Lee
An author to watch. It's a good concept to have murder mysteries set in Arthur's time, and the 'damaged' hero is memorable. I found this one a bit first-novel-ish (I'm not completely certain it was his first novel, but there were places where it was thin). I'll probably pick up a couple more books in and then want to read back!
Rich Stoehr
Nov 05, 2010 Rich Stoehr rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arthurian
There's lots of risk in mixing different types of stories. Take Tony Hays' The Killing Way, for example. It's a murder mystery (a complicated one at that), and it's a story about King Arthur. Each is a different type of tale, and there's lots of excellent books that take on one or the other without the extra complications.

To attempt both in a single book is ambitious, to say the least. To do both and make it work is quite an achievement.

Hays does make it work though, and surprisingly well. The m
Oct 03, 2011 Alan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, arthurian
This book interested me to start with just because I like Arthurian books (The Once and Future King and The Mists of Avalon) and I like mystery's set in ancient times (Marcus Didius Falco, Sister Fidelma My love of all things Arthurian is also what bothered me most about the book too. This book takes on the characters but not the story line as we "know" it. Which certainly worked for me in "Mists" but the author here has no desire to take what we "know" and twist it or turn it to reinter ...more
Apr 22, 2015 Libby rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Don't look for pomposity or bombast here. You won't find anything except for murder, treason and plotting, all crying to be resolved by the one-armed scribe, Maelgwn. Hays uses a simple straight-forward style to tell a tale that is anything but straight-forward. Instead, we find a neatly knotted puzzle. Maelgwn says it himself in his narrative; nothing is what it seems. The great lords of post-Roman Britain are gathered at Castellum Arturious to vote for the next Rigotamus or Overking of Britain ...more
Janet McCord
Oct 17, 2012 Janet McCord rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first in the Arthurian Mystery series it tells the story of King Arthur in a non-fairy tale way but in likely historically accurate version of Post-Roman Britain. Merlin and all the other cast of characters from romances are here but given real flesh and blood (there is quite a lot of blood and fighting) and shown in a more realistic manner. We're introduced to the main character of the series, Malgwyn ap Cuneglas, as if he were writing his memoirs in the abbey of Glastonbury when he was 90 ...more
May 22, 2012 Kara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: king-arthur, mystery

In King Arthur retellings, there are two main versions that almost all of the stories fall into: a high medieval never-never land of an England-that-never-was-and-always-will-be of dragons, wizards, damsels in distress (in 15th century costumes) and knights in shining plate armor, or a gritty post-Roman England with barbarians at the gates, lots of blood, mud, and enough realism to satisfy the most nit picky of historical purists.

Tony Hayes Arthurian Mysteries series falls squarely in the seco
Kate Bulman
Nov 07, 2009 Kate Bulman rated it really liked it
This book was terrific. I hadn't read anything by this author before, but intend to look for more. I believe he has another historical mystery out. I'm currently a big fan of historical mysteries. The Killing Way is set in the 5th Century, and is a fresh take on the Arthurian legend. The protagonist is a warrior for Arthur, and was saved by Arthur when he lost his arm in battle. For this, the man hates Arthur (because he is alive instead of dying nobly in battle). As the story opens, he is a dru ...more
Ryan Mishap
Feb 20, 2010 Ryan Mishap rated it it was ok
What looked to be a promisaing read fell flat, summat, but at least the need to have answers to the mystery kept me reading.

Arthur is about to be crowned Rigamatos, but several factions are vying for the power. A serving girl, favored by Arthur, is found brutally murdered and the doddering old Merlin is blamed. Arthur employs the one-armed, bitter, drunk Malgwyn to investigate and clear Merlin.

Told from Malgwyn's point of view, there's little nuance to the story as every thought, emotion, and r
Sep 20, 2011 Spuddie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
First of a series set in Britain not long after the Romans left the island to itself. Told by Malgwyn, a soldier in Arthur's army who lost most of one arm in a battle and turned to drink to drown his sorrows for many years until Arthur, set to become ruler of Britain, charges him with solving the murder of a young serving woman--who also happens to be Malgwyn's dead wife's sister. The girl is found near Merlin's cottage with her heart cut out and Arthur fears his political enemies, aware of his ...more
May 11, 2009 Deanne rated it really liked it
I liked this book it was a great little mystery. The book's setting is Camelot or rather the time before Arthur becomes king. It was interesting how he included pieces of the legend into the story. The Romans have left the area but many of their ways remain. It is the story of Malgwyn a former soldier and confidant of Arthur's who has lost part of his arm in fighting the Saxon's. This loss makes him feel useless and half a man. There is a gruesome murder blamed upon Merlin and Arthur has asked M ...more
Apr 10, 2014 Lisa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Solid story. Was recommended to me since I have read Bernard Cornwell before. That's definitely spot-on. If you like Cornwell, you'll enjoy this. The historical aspect is just right. Hays doesn't get too in the weeds with the details, but there's enough in there to where if you're familiar with Arthurian tales, you'll feel at home. Hays did a nice job of flushing out Malgwyn's character, developing him as the story progressed...very life-like in his progression and transformation. Hays also did ...more
May 03, 2012 Daniel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hays has expanded this into a nice series. It's quite entertaining to see the classic Arthurian story unfold through murder mysteries. Highly recommended for fans of Steven Saylor's Roma Sub Rosa series.
This first book is a nice start with a decent conclusion. Ambrosius is looking to appoint a new King of Britain, and a murder seeks to unhinge his plan and Arthur's future. Arthur seeks out his former war lord Malgwyn for help. Throughout the story Malgwyn's hatred for Arthur isn't really believa
Sep 17, 2009 Kalyn rated it liked it
CSI: Arthur is a pretty accurate description of this book. It's set in around 600 AD so it's not your typical Arthurian Round Table court (Lancelot and other famous knights are completely absent) and some characters you've never heard of feature prominently. The story centers on Malgywn, the detective character. It's a good murder mystery, and the different setting and time period keeps it interesting.

At times, the dialogue was sloppy - it's like the author tried to add enough to make it seem a
Sep 01, 2009 Patricia rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Joshua
This is the first in a new series set in Arthurian England and I am looking forward to the next one! The protagonist is a curmudgeonly former soldier who lost half of his right arm fighting the Saxons and is not happy that Arthur saved his life instead of letting him die on the battlefield. The mystery is very good, the characters pretty well-drawn (I would like more depth in some cases but I think this will come as the series progresses) and the action moves along well - I read this in one indu ...more
Nov 30, 2011 Shiela rated it it was ok
I SO wanted to like this one, it has everything I usually love...Arthurian legend, murder, mayham and betrayal, a seriously flawed protagonist and its the first book in a series. What more could a lover of historical mystery want. Unfortunately, this one totally fell flat. I just finished it a couple of days ago and for the life of me, I can't remember who the killer was.

I may read the second book in the series just because the fourth book received such praise (you know me and reading things in
Oct 30, 2012 Penny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle-version
Yet another story about Arthur (a subject that fascinates me!)
This one is quite different in that Arthur is in the story, but really plays a very small part in it!
This is a "who done it" Two women have been killed in a very hidious way, and Malgwyn a one time friend of Arthurs, and now a one armed drunk, who is determined to drink himself to death, until Arthur steps in and askes him to solve the mystery of who killed them.
I enjoyed the twists and turns of the story, reminding me in many ways of
Oct 07, 2013 Jeanne rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
From Amazon's description: Think CSI: Medieval: gritty, powerful, and with the true ring of historical perspective and a character who sees more than those around him. The Killing Way is the first in a mystery series that is sure to be a hit with both mystery readers and historical fans alike.

I think most fans of the medieval world and the Arthurian legend will like this mystery series. Malgwyn, the investigator, is a cranky, drunk, one-armed man who bears a great hatred toward Arthur for savin
Noor Jahangir
Mar 04, 2012 Noor Jahangir rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Medieval crime drama. Malgwyn is a bitter man who lost his arm in service to Arthur ap Uther. He signed up with Arthur after discovering his wife raped and slaughtered by raiding Saxons. Now he spends his time trying to drink and whore his way to an early grave. But when his sister-in-law is found butchered outside Merlin's house, Malgwyn must sober up and discover who the killer is, otherwise more than Merlin's head on the chopping-block is at stake.
Susan Jo Grassi
Apr 01, 2012 Susan Jo Grassi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was very impressed with this tale. I have always loved history and historical mysteries. I started reading and had a hard time putting it down to cook, clean or sleep. I won the second in this series on the Goodreads giveaways and thought I should read the first to fill in some of the back story details. I am so glad I did. I will start the second asap and am already looking for the next one. If you like the Arthurian myth/history, you will love this series.
Jul 02, 2012 Danny rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library-book
The setting is ancient England in the time of Arthur. But Arthur isn't the king yet, Guinevere lives down the lane, and Merlin isn't all that magic. The book goes for gritty and realistic, using characters we know from Arthurian legend, or at least from The Sword in the Stone. Throw in a murder and a one-armed sleuth and you've got a British mystery with more Saxons than Miss Marple ever ran into.
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A native of Madison, Tennessee, Tony spent his teenage years on a farm about 10 miles southeast of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Although he had dreamed of being a writer since childhood, it was only after a brief career as a university administrator that he began to come into his own. Initially, he was awarded an undergraduate degree in history and a MA in educational psychology from Tennessee Technol ...more
More about Tony Hays...

Other Books in the Series

The Arthurian Mysteries (4 books)
  • The Divine Sacrifice (Arthurian Mysteries, #2)
  • The Beloved Dead (Arthurian Mysteries, #3)
  • The Stolen Bride (Arthurian Mysteries, #4)

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