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The King's Peace

(Tir Tanagiri #1)

3.55  ·  Rating details ·  718 ratings  ·  107 reviews
Sulien ap Gwien was seventeen when the Jarnish raiders came. Had she been armed when they found her, she could have taken them all. As it was, it took six of them to subdue her. She will never forgive them.

Thus begins her story—a story that takes her back to her family, with its ancient ties to the Vincan empire that once ruled in Tir Tanagiri, and forward to Caer Tanaga,
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published October 13th 2000 by Tor Books (first published October 2000)
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Average rating 3.55  · 
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 ·  718 ratings  ·  107 reviews

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It took me a while to get into The King's Peace -- I knew from the first few chapters that it would be a slow burn. Which is was, but I ended up loving it. It's an alternate history -- think like Guy Gavriel Kay's A Song for Arbonne, I suppose: the places and people are given different names, but all the same you can trace it back to real events in our history -- with touches of fantasy. It explores the Arthurian mythology, without ever using those names (e.g. Arthur is Urdo, Guinevere is Elenn) ...more
Apr 04, 2009 rated it it was ok
After reading The Prize in the Game, I had really high hopes for Walton's debut novel. Perhaps, too high. I made it to page 286/416, before finally deciding to put the book down.

The writing was wordy, at times, & clunky. The plot jumped from one war to the next and was full of very flat characters. Part way through, I searched online for a list of characters but to no avail. I couldn't keep the characters & his/her relationships straight. Perhaps, if they had been more fully developed, it would
Jul 26, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: glbt, sffantasy
Before I read this, I wouldn't have believed such an original take on Arthur was possible. It's sort of an AU of Arthur (called Urdo in this) told by one of his knights, a woman - this is where the AU part comes in; the set-up of the world has women and men equal, one of the many things I liked about it. The world-building proceeds logically from some really interesting premises, which are sprinkled through the story with an impressively light touch for a new writer, as Walton was when she wrote ...more
May 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I really, really liked this book. However, I am reluctant to recommend it to anyone because it was NOT an easy read. It is an alternative telling of the legend of King Arthur, complete with Welsh nomenclature, such as the term "caer" for identifying cities/town, e.g. Caer Sacramento, and the naming of people after their fathers with the "ap" form, e.g. Glee "ap Stanley". Plus the story breaks several conventions with the "traditional" Arthurian lengends. So for a long time reading the book, it f ...more
Kaethe Douglas
It does get rather dull: the book covers sixteen years or so, most of which are spent on horseback traveling between places named Caer Something that I could never keep straight. I liked the stuff about the horses, and how war horses differ from regular horses, and the breeding of horses, and how many horses it takes to support how many people, and so forth. If military logistics don't interest you, or horses, the book won't hold much appeal.

As a feminist version of Arthurian saga there are thin
Jul 31, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: reviewed, fiction
This was lousy. I don't say that because it took a woman's view. Read the excellent Paksarnarion books and you know that we can find women heroic figures.

The reason that this was such tripe was manifold. And herein lie spoilers. I had this on my to purchase list for a long time and regret that I spent the money for it now. And that time of my life reading far too much of it.

Firstly our hero is raped in the first few pages. That sets up the drama, right? Well her rape is such that she will forg
Oct 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: julie-bell, hardback, 2002
Like Paula Volsky's books (especially Illusion ) this is a fantasy take, in another world, of historical events. Kinda :-)

This is the first book in this trilogy, with a gorgeous cover by Julie Bell. Oddly enough, though it's billed as a trilogy, the third book is actually a prequel

Jo Walton is the nicest lady, too... I met her at the World Fantasy Convention in Mesa couple years ago and she and I sat down and had a nice long chat.

Every once in a while, my habit of picking books just because
Grace Troxel
Jan 02, 2015 rated it it was ok
This review originally appeared on my blog, Books Without Any Pictures:

Do you ever have one of those books that you just know you’ll love, but they you start reading it and it seems to drag on and on without reason? I was incredibly excited to read The King’s Peace after reading Walton’s ethereal and introspective novel Among Others (seriously, if you haven’t read it, go do so, this instant!), about a child who discovers the worlds of classic science ficti
Many, many times I thought I’d put this book aside. I didn’t, I finished it; but it’s no Tooth and Claw or Among Others.

I hadn't read anything about this book before reading it, unusually for me. I read it because it is by Jo Walton. It took me a ridiculously long time to figure out that this is a retelling of Arthurian legend, sort of. It's Arthurian legend with men and women doing the soldiering together. Where being gay or lesbian isn't remarkable. Where not marrying or not having children i
Apr 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I can agree with some of the other comments listed about the book. A really enjoyable and subtle Arthurian fantasy style, done in a whole other world. I also agree with some of the comments on it being clunky and jerky. It basically covers about 15 years in the first book. However, I personally did enjoy it. I liked the strong woman main character and actually the fairly well-balanced men and women equality through-out.
Dec 17, 2009 rated it liked it
A hard slog; takes itself too seriously. I believed in Tir Tanagiri all right, but it was like swimming through half-set jello to read.

Jo Walton's recent novels of speculative fiction are excellent.
May 17, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
The King's Peace is a novel set in an alternative Britain, where the events leading to Arthurian myths are playing out.

I'm not sure if I am the ideal reader: my knowledge of Arthurian stuff is limited to a few movies and TV shows. Then again, perhaps the book is aimed exactly at people who aren't Arthur fanatics - it transposes everything to a different world. I'm not sure why, but perhaps Jo Walton wanted creative freedom without getting historians and mythohistorians to come after her with to
Oct 03, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arthurian, fantasy
If this hadn't been Walton's first novel, I'm not sure how I'd have felt about it. She sees fit, in her notes, to say "this is not our world, and this is not our history", but what it very clearly is is a retelling of the Arthurian legend with the names changed (and not all of them changed very much).

Well, that's not a bad thing: I've read a lot of Arthurian retellings over the years and this is as good as most, and better than many. It just feels somehow dishonest to take one of the best known
I see this is a novel that divides readers. For myself, I loved it from about ten pages in, and that didn't change until I put it down in tears.

I've read a few Arthurian fantasies before, as well as various historical novels about the equivalent period, but this is the first that has really gripped me emotionally and intellectually to such an extent. I've spent the past few days engrossed in Sulien's world, and I want to dive straight into the next book (but I won't!) and continue my immersion.

This was a OK read. Better than some but not great. It had so many characters coming and going that I had a hard time keeping up. The war scenes were very well researched and were pretty good. I had a hard time relating to most of Walton's characters because they were so flat. Towards the end though, the characters were getting better (I automaticly liked Rigg, Elen and Conal when they were introduced). Some small bit of magic, lots of action and politics. A different fantasy novel, based on war ...more
Bethany Joy
Apr 16, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: unfinished-books
Jo Walton has been my new favorite in the sci-fi and fantasy world recently, but this book just didn't do it for me. Let's face it, retelling Arthurian legends is nothing new in the fantasy world. Walton changes names and incorporates interesting elements of Welsh mythology, but it basically is the same old story. Even so, I probably would have finished it if it hadn't been for the main character. She seemed to be lifted straight from Elizabeth Moon's The Deed of Paksenarrion and though I didn't ...more
Jul 10, 2007 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy
Not my cup of tea. I couldn't relate to Sulien; just couldn't care about the story. ...more
Michael Burianyk
Jan 06, 2014 rated it it was ok
To be honest, I never did finish this. I’m not sure why. It wasn’t bad. I just don’t know. All I do know is I don’t feel guilty not reading till the end.
Entertaining retelling of the King Arthur myth with excellent characterization and wonderful story telling.
Oct 29, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019
Every now and then, bits of this were a pretty good book. I'm a sucker for Welsh-inspired retellings of Arthurian legend. Jo Walton does some interesting things with all the old stories, and when the actual main characters were talking with each other, the novel was alive and interesting. But chapters and chapters of it were just very dull descriptions of the main character plodding about by herself, interacting with very bland tertiary characters with barely any dialogue. And there were so many ...more
Jan 10, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
An alternative take on the Arthurian mythos starring warrior woman. But very slow paced. So slow paced I was surprised to discover it was published in 2000. I'd have placed it at least a decade earlier. There is plenty of archaic, formal language and ancient naming conventions. It reminds me a little of The Shining Company by Rosemary Sutcliff (novel inspired by Y Gododdin).

I appreciated a story where having women in combat was common and there were offhand references to random scout being femal
This and its sequel, The King's Name, are an excellent reworking of the Matter of Britain (i.e., King Arthur and all that) set in a different world from ours. I use the word "reworking" rather than "retelling" simply because the books aren't a straight retelling of the Arthurian legends; the world is different (largely in that magic and the gods are real), and although there are certainly parallels, the events and characters are sufficiently different to make this more than a retelling.

The narr
Jan 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
I think it's unfortunate that some people find this book dry, or don't understand some of her choices in building the setting. Having only recently gotten back into reading, I'm finding it nearly impossible to stick with boring books, but this was one I had little trouble with at all (aside from remembering the names of important but not central characters.) Walton's retold Arthurian world that she has built is fascinating, and just idyllic enough to still have conflict to get caught up in. Just ...more
Jason Vanhee
This was good, but as it's an alternate telling of the Matter of Britain--a subject I am all too familiar with--every mention of every person or place I had to decide who they were supposed to be, or which kingdom it was being referenced (no map, sadly) and not everything was a direct match so I ended up slightly frustrated all the time. Being less familiar would have helped, I think. It's a pretty good book, though the choices of what to narrate vs. what to pass over quickly were sometimes stra ...more
Nov 25, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: book-club
Part of me liked what Walton was trying to do here, but I couldn't get into it. I did appreciate the clash of cultures (thinly veiled Roman-Celtic-Anglo-Saxon interaction) even though my knowledge of Arthurian legend is pretty sparse. My biggest problems were that the main character wasn't very relatable, I couldn't keep track of the other characters, and it's hard to discern any over-arching plot. It reads kind of like this: "Sulien did this, and then she did that, and then she did another thin ...more
My feelings about this book are mixed, to say the least. I loved the first half of it and then all of a sudden, it really was a struggle to keep reading it. Maybe it is unnecessarily long.

This is the first fiction by Jo Walton I've read and I really wanted to love it. The worldbuilding is excellent, the plot and the characters are complex. The writing style is wonderful until it wasn't as gripping, although no less well done.

Sulien is raped at age seventeen and it is brutal enough that it puts
Apr 17, 2018 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Beverly Fuqua
Jan 27, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: did-not-finish
I just could not get into this book, and I gave it a fair shot, read 183/414. I checked it out (yes, I still read paper books from the library!) because I loved the book Tooth and Claw, but this doesn't even seem like the same author. T&C was whimsical and delightful, a very original world (dinosaurs that wear hats!) The world of this book just seemed like pre-medieval England, just the names are changed. When I put the book down I had no desire to find out what happened to any of the characters ...more
Jul 01, 2019 rated it it was ok
I put up with the book is the best way to describe it.

I didn’t want to stop because it was so bad, but I also really didn’t care.

Had a lot of difficulty keeping everyone straight, especially since they can go by two names. It was okay because most names were common within a family, so that gave me some kind of chance of understanding relationships.

It’s a loose retelling of Arthur from an angle I’ve never seen before, but I wasn’t curious or excited or rooting for anyone, which is why I couldn
Jun 01, 2013 rated it liked it
This is hard to get into and I still get confused at who some of the characters and places were but I still really enjoyed it. A really interesting take on a war/peace epic told by a female fighter. I enjoyed the different take on how our society could have looked with women being equal. At times the story dragged but in the end the characters and actions were still really interesting and I wanted to keep reading.
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Jo Walton writes science fiction and fantasy novels and reads a lot and eats great food. It worries her slightly that this is so exactly what she always wanted to do when she grew up. She comes from Wales, but lives in Montreal.

Other books in the series

Tir Tanagiri (3 books)
  • The King's Name (Tir Tanagiri, #2)
  • The Prize in the Game (Tir Tanagiri #3)

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