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The Winter King by B. Cornwell > Part Three: The Return of Merlin

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message 1: by SarahC (new)

SarahC (SarahCarmack) | 188 comments Mod
The discussion seems to have moved to begin Part Three of The Winter King.


message 2: by Arthur (new)

Arthur | 8 comments This could mean an exciting part for the book. Derfel mainly speaks to Arthur now, but in the last part Derfel still reminisces about seeing Merlin return. I wonder if Merlin did return and why?


message 3: by Dee (new)

Dee Marie (dee_marie) | 61 comments I like how Derfel states that he is to Nimue as Arthur is to Merlin (even though I think this was mentioned in an earlier chapter, it seems to relate to Part three as well).

Arthur is Merlin's sword
as
Derfel is Nimue's sword

That simple statement says so much.


message 4: by SarahC (new)

SarahC (SarahCarmack) | 188 comments Mod
Did it seem Arthur could have given Derfel more warning about the conditions and what the people were like in Armorica? His warning seemed to be only that Lancelot could be difficult!



message 5: by Arthur (new)

Arthur | 8 comments I learned of Bedwin who appeared more informed of foreign relations than Derfel ever suspected Bedwin before leaving Dumnonia. Derfel always day dreams envision of his quest to find Merlin but is sent to protect the poets of Ynys Trebes leaving Dumnonia. during seizures of trouble breaking out and the heaping threats to Arthur of going into wars defending Dumnonia against his neighbors who all had once he believed could be trusted and make a pact with until meeting his Guinevere may have led Derfel getting far away from his troubles and while still in good position in his army during all the battles. Arthur felt he trusted Derfel to do this one task of saving Trebes from being sacked and greatly Arthur also believed he could do for Derfel what his people did for all his great armoring soldiers making them triumphing leaders to win wars and bring back stories.


message 6: by Dee (new)

Dee Marie (dee_marie) | 61 comments There seems to be a lot of lack of communication with Cornwell's Arthur


message 7: by Dee (new)

Dee Marie (dee_marie) | 61 comments Hi Arthur,

Very interesting theories.


message 8: by SarahC (new)

SarahC (SarahCarmack) | 188 comments Mod
It seems that BK is still setting the pace of the story. Part Three is The Return of Merlin, but he only returns briefly and disappears. He does give Derfel some wisdom first. And, no spoilers, Part Four, moves on to Nimue.

It does seem the pace of a Malory-type of book maybe.?. I know a thread is forming, but the incidents still seem separated to me.


message 9: by Dee (new)

Dee Marie (dee_marie) | 61 comments Part four is my favorite section of the book :)


message 10: by Dee (last edited Jan 26, 2009 07:49AM) (new)

Dee Marie (dee_marie) | 61 comments Cornwell has a lot of violence in each section. I still have chills about the killing of Mordred's mother and the rape of Nimue...That was over the top brutal.

He seems to dwell on brutality rather than the beauty.

Plus, Lancelot is such a ninny. Sigh. I want Lancelot to be strong and chivalrous.

It was sad when the library went up in smoke, sigh. A civilized word needs its poets.


message 11: by SarahC (last edited Jan 25, 2009 05:07PM) (new)

SarahC (SarahCarmack) | 188 comments Mod
Yes, Arthur, Arthur in the story did seem to send Derfel to a great challenge in hopes he would gain success and glory. Maybe he didnt feel the need to warn him of anything, just hoping for blind success from a young, brave, dedicated warrior.

Yes, Dee the brutality is heavy. And shockingly from Lancelot -- he also raped the harpist who was loved by Galahad. (Again BK is mixing the generations with Galahad as Lancelot's brother.)

Nimue still seeking revenge herself, and doubtless some revenge will probably be dosed upon Lancelot at some point. Cornwell still has me curious about his characters.


message 12: by Arthur (new)

Arthur | 8 comments Derfel returns from his fighting to learn Lancelot had landed his ship three days earlier in Dumnonia telling his story of Ynys Trebes to Arthur. Derfel challenged Lancelot to swords for his words. Lancelot I can sympathize with. He has brought his mother with him to seek Arthur. Athur is in no position to advise and but admits telling Lancelot and the Queen of Trebes of his personal regret of the battle against the Franks Lancelot had just escaped.
A lot happens at once like the fact Arthur is staying with Guinevere instead of defending his kingdom. Derfel also later then learned Nimue is on the Isle of the Dead.


message 13: by Dee (new)

Dee Marie (dee_marie) | 61 comments I have problems feeling sorry for Lancelot. He is a rogue and a liar, and not worthy of King Arthur’s court.

It also bothers me that King Arthur can be dubbed so easily. That he (King Arthur) is still so enamored with Gwen’s charms that his intuition ceases to exist.

What bothers me the most about the Winter King, is that besides Derfel, there is a total lack of chivalry. The Arthurian Legends is based on that one word!

Gets off of soapbox, remembering that this is just a story :)


message 14: by Bob (new)

Bob | 37 comments Mod
So our first glance into Merlin. I loved his nutty/quirkiness. I love characters that are on the edge. We get the sense that he is "playing the game" at a different level. Will Bernard expose Merlin's plans fully? I'm not sure I want to know. I like having to guess.

Arthur sending Derfel to Armorica was simply a logical decision. Arthur could not go so sent his best.

Lancelot is an intriguing character so far. I think we can all agree that he falls short of the classical Lancelot character. I wonder though if BC isn't setting Lancelot up for a major change. Will he experience some profound moment that will shake him to the core?

Chivalry, or the lack of, is an interesting topic. Lancelot in my mind is the embodiment of chivalry, at least as his character is classically known, not Bernard's. And yet we know that ultimately he commits a most un-chivalric act. In the end Arthur, and I, forgive him. So, if chivalry is not perfection and Arthur is still young (though clearly battle tested) we see a man making many mistakes. I will only be disappointed if he doesn't learn from these mistakes by the time he becomes king.

The mantle of chivalry, at least toward women, is squarely hung above Derfel. Arthur is very chivalric when it comes to soldiers and his enemies. In fact it could be argued that he is so chivalric that he puts himself at a disadvantage. His attitude towards women though can almost be described as "disinterested...except for Gwen.


message 15: by Anna (new)

Anna | 77 comments Dee wrote: "Plus, Lancelot is such a ninny."

Oh, I can't tell you how much I agree. I was so disappointed in this Lancelot.

I've been thinking alot about the idea of chivalry in this book vs. other Arthur tales and I guess I've decided to accept that Cornwell is writing for the time in which the legends 'happened' and not the time in which they were cannonized. The Christain and Knightly overtones in Malory et al were superimposed on earlier stories that would-- most likely and this is all guess work of course as we don't have those earlier tales-- have been much more like the world that Cornwell creates. It was a time that valued maleness and the epic hero tradition, not the later age of chivalry. So, I'm letting go of my personal need for galant knights and ladies and enjoying the blood and violence for what it is.





message 16: by Bob (new)

Bob | 37 comments Mod
Anna - I think you are right. If you can't "let go", this book and presumably the rest of the series will be very hard to get through, never mind enjoy.


message 17: by Dee (new)

Dee Marie (dee_marie) | 61 comments Oh, even though I love playing the Devil's Advocate...I fully enjoyed The Winter King “as a story” (even after reading it for the third time). I still do not agree with his treatment of the traditional characters. {insert even grin here}

{As to the brutality, well, I am sure that is something that we can all agree on, it was a brutal time in history. I also read Stephen King, but that does not mean that I condone violence, just that I appreciate great writing...and Cornwell is a great writer...not a great “traditional” Arthurian Legends' author, but a great writer none the less}

...however, I shall never "let go" of my need to believe that there was a time when the values of Camelot existed and chivalry lived. Nope, not gonna do it :]

Even so, I am still enjoying the tale Cornwell weaves (blood, guts, gore and all).

*Buys a pint for every one*


message 18: by Anna (new)

Anna | 77 comments Ah, I should have said suspend for the duration of my time spent with Cornwell. I will always want and need Camelot in my life.


message 19: by Dee (new)

Dee Marie (dee_marie) | 61 comments ^5s Anna :)


message 20: by Bob (new)

Bob | 37 comments Mod
Dee - I missed your comments about Arthur/Merlin, Derfel/Nimue. So true though. Thanks for highlighting. It seems in many ways Derfel is the proxy not just for Arthur but for other Arthurian characters. The purity of Perceval, the chivalry of Lancelot, the stubbornness of Arthur. Others??

Anna - We knew what you meant and concur with the sentiment! :)


message 21: by SarahC (new)

SarahC (SarahCarmack) | 188 comments Mod
Bob, I have been thinking the same thing for pages-- I like how you stated it -- Derfel as proxy. He certainly is playing the role of confidant also, like Cai or Bedwyr, or whichever version you might follow. His character and internal mood reminds me of Lancelot in some versions, Gawain in others (when Gawain is being portrayed as sensitive).

It must be exciting for an author to create a new character to walk the traditional stage and pick up many of the traditional characteristics of the people in Arthur's world. Then, once created, he doesnt have to follow any traditional tales. He can make Derfel, our example here, do anything he wants him to as far as plot/story.


message 22: by Anna (new)

Anna | 77 comments I'm also enjoying the way Derfel comments (gossips) about the other characters for us. It's like having someone on the almost inside of the action who gives us all the dirt when no one else is listening.


message 23: by Dee (new)

Dee Marie (dee_marie) | 61 comments Too funny Anna :)


message 24: by Bob (last edited Jan 28, 2009 11:45AM) (new)

Bob | 37 comments Mod
Bernard Cornwell is certainly a crafty writer! Onward to "The Isle of the Dead"?


message 25: by Arthur (new)

Arthur | 8 comments It was decent ~!


message 26: by Old-Barbarossa (last edited Apr 17, 2009 11:16AM) (new)

Old-Barbarossa | 301 comments The different takes on the story are still being played out between reality (in the novel) and the myth (the fili/poets stories about Lance). The myth eventually becoming the basis for the "canon". Even in the days of Malory though the idea of chivalry only went so far...there was always a "golden age" when chivalry flowered, bolstered by troubadors etc, always in the past...but outside the banquet hall the blood, rust, betrayal and plague was the reality.
I like the idea of Lance as being in charge of a host of spin Drs in the guise of bards...that's one of the things they did.
Merlin is doing what I think he should be doing so far.
Now on to Portland Bill...


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