Cara's Reviews > The Winter King

The Winter King by Bernard Cornwell
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Feb 13, 2010

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bookshelves: arthurian
Read from February 04 to 08, 2010

As a fictionalized account of the final attempt of the Britons to defend their land from invading Saxons and Irish, this is an engaging tale, with likeable heroes. As a tale of Arthur, it disappoints.

The major problem with Cornwell's characterization is that the villains are without redeeming qualities. They are invariably a combination of the following qualities: brutal, vicious, duplicitous, selfish, and cowardly. This makes Arthur come off as particularly obtuse. For example, I don't have a problem with Cornwell re-writing Lancelot to make him ignoble, but to make him as wholly reprehensible as he is, and to have every credible character except Arthur realize what a useless and narcissistic person he is, just makes Arthur look stupid. It's hard to imagine how such a man could be a great leader of soldiers in an age of social and religious conflict when he can't seem to judge them well.

Arthur's poor judgment, at least when it comes to people, is problematic in this work, but it completely drains the second book, Enemy of God, of the tragedy that is inherent in the Arthurian story.
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02/04/2010 page 134
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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John I thought the author was pretty concise about why Arthur allowed Lancelot to get away with just about anything - it was guilt that he was unable to save Ban's kingdom (Lancelot's birthright) after promising he would help. Anyway - I agree there are limits to how much one person should take - even in the wake of a guilty conscience. :)


Cara It's been a while since I've read this, but I remember Arthur's guilt regarding the loss of Ban's kingdom. As I recall, however, Arthur ignored all of Lancelot's faults even before the battle was lost. But, even if my memory misleads me, I'm not persuaded that Arthur was aware of Lancelot's many character flaws and chose to ignore them out of guilt. After all, Arthur ignores or excuses the bad behavior of other characters (such as Mordred), too.


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