Nathan Trachta's Reviews > The Winter King

The Winter King by Bernard Cornwell
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's review
Nov 24, 11

it was amazing
Read in November, 2011

I’ve enjoyed reading Mr. Cornwell’s books for some time now, first the Sharpe’s Rifles series and then assorted others. Looking about I saw his series on Arthurian Lore and was intrigued knowing Mr. Cornwell’s love of bringing as much history as possible into his stories and the legends of King Arthur and his knights being so twisted by Sir Thomas Malory’s le Morte de Arthur and Hollywood’s take.

I’m going to open by saying wow. I was very impressed by Mr. Cornwell here. This is arguably one of his best works. Mr. Cornwell managed to paint a historical post-Roman/Saxon invasion England where magic (or the perceived effects of it) was alive and well. Mr. Cornwell’s tale reflects history so well. The Briton’s are trying to survive the Saxon invasion but each king is working independent of the other and as likely to seek the correction of past grievances against other Briton kings. Arthur, rather than being a king of one of the clans is instead a warlord who leads a warband for the Dumnonia who’s king is Uther Pendragon, grandfather of Mordred (no, Arthur is not the father of Mordred). Arthur, rather than being the main character is a secondary character. Instead, Mr. Cornwell brings Derfel to the front. Derfel is unique to Arthurian Lore (from Hollywood/Malory cantor); a Saxon child raised in Merlin’s household who becomes a warrior and the right hand to Arthur, Derfel is naïve and passionate, deep and reflective, a perfect character for the historical Briton Mr. Cornwell describes. The most amazing piece is Mr. Cornwell captures historical Briton and the mystical/magical components so well. The violence and warfare reflect what I’ve read about the time period, shieldwalls smashing into one another with man-vs-man fighting each other on the ground. Merging this with the belief in druids/priest and magic and holiness and you have a fabulous 5 star story.

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