The Winter King
It takes a remarkable writer to make an old story as fresh and compelling as the first time we heard it. With The Winter King, the first volume of his magnificent Warlord Chronicles, Bernard Cornwell finally turns to the story he was born to write: the mythic saga of King Arthur.
The tale begins in Dark Age Britain, a land where Arthur has been banished and Merlin has...more
You will not see thunderbolts…moreThe 'magic' is purely in the minds of the characters. Its source is superstition, irrationality, ignorance, and religion.
You will not see thunderbolts fly from staffs or supernatural healing of deadly wounds.(less)
Depending on the rest of the trilogy, this could be the most original and the best Arthurian legend retelling of all time, out of all medium.
A little background before I start my review; this is my first dive into Bernard Cornwell’s work and only my second time reading a historical fiction, so this is totally out of my comfort read but I’m delighted with my decision to go out of my usual read. I’ve heard of the name Bernard Cornwell several times until now, all pretty much claimed he’ ...more
The tale of King Arthur, Guinevere and Lancelot, the Knights of the Round Table, Sir Galahad and his quest for the Holy Grail, Excalibur, Merlin and his sorcery, and the age of chivalry are the ingredients of medieval fantasy and folklore. Bernard Cornwell writes his account which feels the most authentic version I’ve encountered and turns many of these former images on their head. The resulting novel creates an imagined tale that feels legitimate and historical.
The story is told in the ...more
Who would I recommend this book to?
If you loved The Lord of the Rings but the smallest part of you that doesn't care about poetry kind of wished it had a little more action . . .
If you loved watching the movie Braveheart but wish it was a little more accurate historically . . .
If you were excited about the 2004 movie King Arthur, ...more
Original review can be found at Booknest.
Here lies a book that didn’t enthrall me, but somehow fascinated me. I wasn’t filled with longing to pick it up and continue reading, but every time I did I was given incredibly interesting theories and historical information. This was likely the most probable telling of the Arthurian legend that I’ve come across. The mythos of Arthur and Merlin and Excalibur and Camelot has always intrigued me, but it’s always remained in the realm ...more
I love BC's ability to pull me into the muddy, primitive Dark Age Britain world. He's one of the very best at avoiding anachronisms, a skill which gets so little praise. None of his characters feel like modernistic men and women dressed up in 5th ...more
For Arthur, at last, had come.
Presenting a saga so epic it needs three pages to list the characters, two pages to mention the places and another two pages of maps! And you know what? The story was so involving, I never once glanced at any of ...more
The legend of Arthur has been told time and again over the centuries. From ancient British folk tales to 5 season of 'Merlin', from 15th Century French verse to 'The Mists of Avalon'. With this book Cornwell has left his mark on that tradition. He's taken a tale examined from almost every angle and made it his own. Most of all he's written a story filled with complicated characters, visceral battles and ambitious intrigues in a brutal, immersive setting.
The protagonist of this story ...more
“The bards sing of love, they celebrate slaughter, they extol kings and flatter queens, but were I a poet I would write in praise of friendship.”
If you love stories consisting of memorable characters you love and despise, fantastic storytelling, stunning action sequences and moral lessons, then you will adore this historical telling of the chronicles of Arthur ...more
It’s also one of my favourite legends so I hope he does it justice!
The story begins with a scribe (Derfel) ...more
The Winter King is a tremendously well written book. Cornwell is an amazing author and I can't wait to give some of his other books a go. Looking at you Last Kingdom!
This one gets a 3 star rating from me. I think 3 stars adequately represents my overall enjoyment of the book. I liked the story, loved the writing. But found it hard to ...more
In this tale the focus is open the original Britons fighting the influx/invasion of Saxons and dealing with the petty British kingdoms. All want to rule and there are a number of very detailed and well-written battles.
First person POV.
The typical cast isn't what it appears to be. For instance, Lancelot is a coward and villain whose bards paint him differently.
These are the tales of Arthur, the Warlord, the King that Never Was, the Enemy of God and…the best man I ever knew.
What I loved about reading this tale for the first time is that I had no expectations. Of course, I did have a little knowledge of Arthur, but nothing that would give me an impression of who he should be. I knew he was a king and possibly a Christian (not in this version). And I had also heard of Galahad, Lancelot, Merlin and Camelot, but basically, this was all new to me.
Galahad on the other hand ...more
This tale is told by one of Arthur's warriors, Derfel. In his old age, Derfel has become a monk. While serving as such, he is writing the story of Arthur, who he knew personally.
Cornwell's Arthur is a delight. While maintaining a degree of the larger-than-life qualities we come to expect of this character, Cornwell makes him human. Gives ...more
“But fate, as Merlin always taught us, is inexorable. Life is a jest of the Gods, Merlin liked to claim, and there is no justice. You must learn to laugh, he once told me, or else you'll just weep yourself to death.”
This was absolutely fantastic!
We meet the same characters we’ve known through countless stories, re-imaginings and movies, and we see them in a world based in reality. The concept is one that many have attempted but none have pulled off satisfactorily…. until now.
I haven’t read any of the others Arthurian books, so I can’t comment on any linkages between this and the agglomeration of other tellings. My knowledge of this history/legend/mythos comes mostly from what I’ve picked up here and there, with a heavy ...more
It took a while for me to get into this, I was overwhelmed with the amount of names thrust at me from the off. From the start you've learnt more characters names in the first few pages than most series will have in their entire run only for the majority of these to be killed off before you've remembered who they are! Luckily, things steadied after a while and you had a core group and things became more focused and the story was able to really progress.
I guess the story of King Arthur and ...more
This was an adventure. This was unique. Can't lay a finger on it but I know i've never read anything quite like this. I remember getting jarred at the start because of this, fearing this may not be my cup of tea after all, but even while contemplating whether to continue or not I knew deep down I was already hooked. I got used to the narrative, ...more
I’m a fan of Bernard Cornwell and that’s a fact. One of my favorite series is his medieval Grail Quest series, which follows an English archer during The Hundred Years War. It’s fantastic. I love it (and highly recommend it). Surely, then, I would love The Winter King – Arthurian legend by Cornwell, for crying out loud! Well, read on and find out…
Read the rest of my review here.
The tale of King Arthur, expect he's no king, Avalon and Camelot and all that aren't quite what you expect, Merlin isn't quite what you expect, Guenevere isn't quite what you expect, and nothing really is the gushy, soft tale you get from a Christianity-veiled Holy Grail Arthurian mythology.
Instead, we have small, colorful bands of warriors, breakdancing druids who spit a lot, tiny fiefs that call themselves kingdoms but fight among themselves, the Saxon ...more
I have 2 reasons for not giving this book 4 stars. Firstly, this novel was quite slow at places and I know that Mr. Cornwell can do better. Much better. Secondly, narrator lacked the charisma of true hero and it took me almost whole book to bond with him.
Fortunatelly everything got better in last 20% and I already look forward to continuing with this series!
Cornwell uses what little historical facts there are regarding the originator of the Arthurian legends and plays around with history to show us what could have been (meaning no magic). He freely admits that he had a lot of room to play and that this is just one interpretation, but damn, it's a brilliant interpretation. All the well knows characters are included (Arthur, Merlin, Lancelot, Guinevere, King Uther, Morgan, Galahad, etc.) but not necessarily as the legends describe them. ...more
This is a book about King Arthur (not King, but Warlock). It's written by Derfel, one Merlin's collected orphans.
Derfel, who was one of Merlin's Tor and who became most trusted, brother-like to Arthur and Gallahad and many such good men, now is a follower of Christianity.
He is one of the last of people left who remember King Arthur, other than the Saint who's Bishop of the Church he's sworn to stay in- Sansum. And he is only one who can write about the most hated by Christians, ...more
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