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The Winter King by B. Cornwell > Part Two: The Princess Bride

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message 1: by SarahC (last edited Jan 15, 2009 04:14PM) (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 188 comments Mod
continue The Winter King discussion here


message 2: by Dee (new)

Dee Marie (dee_marie) | 61 comments The concept of starting a war over matters of the heart (or manly body parts) is done brilliantly :)


message 3: by Dee (new)

Dee Marie (dee_marie) | 61 comments I thought it was ironic that Cornwell...instead of placing Uther falling crown over boots for lust...He instead, places Arthur in that role. Resulting in a major plot turn.


message 4: by SarahC (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 188 comments Mod
I guess that is my main thought from Part Two: What was Cornwell trying to do with Arthur? I know this will be revealed, but at this part he seems to set up a weak Arthur whose head is turned instantly in all ways by Guinevere. Derfel says he sees this as a selfishness in Arthur. So does our noble leader turn into a selfish man, only out for what he wants?

I also am staying tuned to find out if this plot with Arthur and Guinevere takes the place of the "Guinevere and Lancelot causing the fall of Camelot" plot that is so familiar to us. It is almost written that way.

Part Two seems to still be unfolding the plot rather than getting into the real stuff of the story.

Did anyone see it as a really significant place in the story for anything in particular? Maybe just the cementing of the Arthur/Derfel relationship?

Does the existence of Derfel bug any of you who feel Cornwall strays far from traditional Arthur? I have to agree that highlighting one of the knights already in the legend would have been great, but if he makes Derfel an interesting character, I will be ok with it. Again, something I am curious to see in the upcoming story.


message 5: by Dee (new)

Dee Marie (dee_marie) | 61 comments
My personal feelings about the second part, was that Cornwell introduced the conflict of Arthur’s uncontrollable lust, as a way to introduce the conflict of civil war…which was historically prevalent within Arthur's reign.

Does marrying Gwen lesson Arthur as a military man within the eyes of his followers. Oh yes…how could it not. Yet, I still contend that Cornwell is using “poetic license” as he replaces Uther’s lust for Igraine with that of Arthur and Gwen.

As to adding new characters to the plot…with many authors, who rewrite history, or expound on the Arthurian Legends, they often introduce new characters to move the storyline forward, in a way of adding fresh content. That really doesn’t bother me as much as his mis-using the original cast of characters :)


message 6: by SarahC (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 188 comments Mod
I agree that the character of Derfel may be an asset to the story. I am looking forward that he will be...more thoughts on that later of course.

Your thought on Arthur & Guinevere playing out the part that was more traditionally Uther and Igraine is interesting. He brings that to the next generation so to speak. I have "read ahead" at this point, and I think I see the blending of the generations in Part Three as well.



message 7: by SarahC (last edited Jan 18, 2009 04:08PM) (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 188 comments Mod
Really, I cant wait to get deeper into the story so I can sort out who is who in BC's version! Because now I am thinking of Nimue and others who make take on a very different role than in traditional views.


message 8: by Dee (new)

Dee Marie (dee_marie) | 61 comments He does write an interesting tale :]


message 9: by Bob (last edited Jan 20, 2009 07:01AM) (new)

Bob | 37 comments Mod
Arthur choosing Guinevere can be viewed as a lustful selfish act. However I like to think that Guinevere is the embodiment of the old gods. Arthur's heart is with the old gods. That is why Merlin gave him Excalibur. Cornwell goes into great detail to describe the rapture that has enveloped Arthur, albeit through Derfel's eyes. The "lust" isn't given much power at least not in a physical sense. Were Arthur not to have chosen Guinevere he would have been extinguishing the flames of the old gods. In his selfless act (yes I did say selfless) he risks all. He knew that in this act of defiance he was laying down the lives of his brothers, the honor of his love and the glory of his fame. The pain/sorrow for modern readers is that we know the battle against the new god is futile.

Then again, maybe I'm giving him too much credit. :)


message 10: by SarahC (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 188 comments Mod
Hi Bob,

The tale may work out that way, but at this point BK only lets us know that Guin caught Arthur's eye across the crowded hall and BAM. Was that supposed to be a meeting of the spirits?

From there, their union seems very materialistic, Guin wants grandeur and luxury in the renovation of the castle, she turns Arthur from his young sons because they arent "pretty" and amusing, her overall attitude seems hard to swallow.

These things dont allow her to well represent the ancient spiritual tradition. Will we be let in on a deeper Guinevere in later chapters?


message 11: by Dee (new)

Dee Marie (dee_marie) | 61 comments I hate to disagree with you Bob, but I think that Arthur's marriage to Guinevere is a very selfish act. He is putting "his" needs in front of the needs of many...(good thing he was not a "Trekkie")

He puts the country into turmoil, he jeopardizes all for his lust of someone he has “just” set eyes on!

Makes for a good storyline…but not for good leadership :]

But, alas, history has been filled with such leaders :] At least ancient history!


message 12: by Bob (new)

Bob | 37 comments Mod
Dee + Sarah - Your points were clearly noted from your previous posts. I was not looking to sway anyone to my opinion. Just sharing how it plays out in my minds eye. Sorry if it proved less then valuable for you. Maybe it's a gender perspective or maybe I have "bought into" the Arthur that BC has created. It must be the same conflict Derfel has. He sees the result of Arthur's choice and yet he still loves him.

Arthur surely makes a poor political choice but I don't think that speaks to his abilities as a leader. The best leaders have the loyalties of those they command even when the choices they make seem poor.

I think I'm having an easier time with the re-characterization issue because this is my first Arthur book in over a year. I think I would find it harder if I had just finished reading another.


message 13: by SarahC (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 188 comments Mod
I didnt intend to sound too harsh within my comments. I think part of my feelings about the story are due to the fact that Arthur and Guinevere are both favorites of mine too.

So what I am wondering at this point in the reading, for one thing, is why the extreme character treatment of Guinevere? He has really made her the extremes of all the stories of her I have read so far. So I will be disappointed if it doesnt serve a real purpose as the story goes along.

Yes, I guess my comments aren't complaints either because I am reading through the book like crazy. Anna, is the Saxon Chronicles another of his series?

Actually, Bob, each reader throwing out their viewpoints of the story is what DOES make the discussion valuable to me. I think within live, in-person group discussions that is more evident, but maybe a little harder with online message board discussions. I surely didnt mean to sound dismissive with any of my replys, just questioning, that is all.


message 14: by Bob (new)

Bob | 37 comments Mod
No worries! I think it's great you both are so passionate about the characters. I just meant to keep the thread light. :)

Guinevere's treatment is extreme but almost seems neccesarry with such a strong Arthur. Otherwise I think she would fade back. I do understand your desire for a purpose beyond that. We will have to trust BC! :P


message 15: by Dee (new)

Dee Marie (dee_marie) | 61 comments *Gives Bob a friendly punch to the shoulder*

I enjoy your input, Bob, (I enjoy everyone’s unique point-of-view) It would be oh so boring if everyone looked at Cornwell’s Arthur through the same eyes.

It is just too much fun to discuss... agree and disagree...with one another.

Like being in a pub, talking about the novel over a pint of ale or a tankard of mead :]

However, from a woman’s point of view (and a Navy Brat at that), I personally would have problems following a leader who sent his country into war, over his lust for a beautiful woman. “Loyal Beyond a Cause,” can only go so far :]

Now, Hero Worship is something else…and I believe that is what many of Arthur’s followers had (in Cornwell’s novel), including Derfel …perhaps a male-thing?

Male bonding can be a very powerful…especially in times of war…an instinctive emotion in times of battle?

I do agree with you totally, Bob, that Guinevere brings in the “old ways,” solidifying the pagan aspects of the storyline.

*Orders another round of drinks for everyone*


message 16: by SarahC (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 188 comments Mod
Round of drinks -- I wish!


message 17: by Dee (new)

Dee Marie (dee_marie) | 61 comments Your wish is my command :]

Best part of cyber-drinks...no hangover ... Whoo Woo!


message 18: by Bob (new)

Bob | 37 comments Mod
Arthur is the ultimate alpha male! *Smirks at Dee*

Saxon Chronicles! Yes! Who is starting the medieval fiction group so we can converse and share there? :)








message 19: by SarahC (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 188 comments Mod
Go for it Bob, and we'll follow you there!

BTW, if anyone wanted to start a topic thread in the main folder on really good fiction about the Middle Ages (general fiction, not necessarily Arthurian) I would be thrilled. I was telling Dee recently that I am having a hard time finding any that I like. I have tried some of the ones about various kings of England, but they run more toward melodrama and romance (like the Philippa Gregory ones). I like novels with more of a story -- more about the society of that period in general, not just the royals.

Any titles that anyone can share? Please start a thread if you know of any.



message 20: by Old-Barbarossa (last edited Apr 17, 2009 05:23AM) (new)

Old-Barbarossa | 301 comments First off, I've enjoyed the Anglo-Saxon stuff that Cornwell has done. The only other works of his I've read. Similar in tone to the Arthur books (well, so far).
As to the issue of war over Gwen: Sagramor mentions the Trojan war at one point so it's nothing new. Also, everyone must remember Cleopatra/Jules/Tony...and she seems to have been, like the portrayal of Gwen here, more a fascinatrix than a classical beauty.
I'm enjoying the distance from the main players that Derfel allows, his acting as a filter. Also, it's made plain a few times that Igraine wants certain things to have happened even if Derfel says they didn't. The evolution of the myth is hinted at in these exchanges.
Now I must refill my meadhorn, the next scroll of the tale unrolls as I hear ravens cawing and smell the musk of the stag...I think Myrddin is coming.


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