Jules's Reviews > The Winter King

The Winter King by Bernard Cornwell
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F 50x66
's review
Sep 05, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: arthuriana, historical-fiction, 2009
Read in December, 2009

4.5 stars

Cornwell's take on Arthurian legend feels like a very... natural one to me. His descriptions of life in the sixth century don't gloss over the less glorious things like bloodshed and hygiene. It's a huge plus! I also like that magic is present, but where it's real to Derfel, the narrator, it's not necessarily so to the reader.

Actually I really need to compliment Cornwell on his tale-shaping at whole. The narrative situation is fabulous; I always enjoy the beginnings of each part immensely, when we switch to Derfel-the-monk. Derfel connects the different plot strands together, and he does a perfect job of telling us what we need to know without getting confused at all. For once, I even enjoyed the quite detailed battle at the end: where usually I get lost in the sea of happenings, Derfel's narrative had me clear of what was happening when where and why at all times. I love it when that happens.

If I have any critique at all, it's that maybe the novel was a bit too slow to start off, with quite the lengthy exposition of the people of the Tor (yes, introduction of those people was necessary; no, I did not quite enjoy myself through that part and kept wanting it to be over). And then there is the matter of Derfel, a seemingly simple warrior of Arthur's, suddenly being praised as a mighty fighter. That was a bit of a rough inconsistency of characterisation - it might have used a bit more smoothness.

Other than that, I loved reading this. Quite a clear-cut, intelligent, well-researched retelling so far, with three-dimensional characters that seem very real. Can't wait to tackle the next book of the trilogy!
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Reading Progress

12/11/2009 page 391
78.99% "So much love for the narrative situation and the way Cornwell weaves the tale together. Lovely."

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