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Bernard Cornwell - Winter King - Review

Discussion in 'Booktalk' started by The Kilted Crusader, Sep 9, 2005.

  1. The Kilted Crusader

    The Kilted Crusader The Famous Last words "Hey guys, watch THIS!" Veteran

    Sep 18, 2002
    Likes Received:
    The Winter King by Bernard Cornwell Rating 5 out of 5 stars.
    First volume of the Warlord chronicles
    Rating: Excellent

    Bernard Cornwell became a renowned as an author with his first installment of his famous Sharpe series - Sharpes tiger. The series now spans twenty books and was made into a television series starring LoTR Boromir, Sean Bean. When he first moved away from the Sharpe books with his Grail Quest Chronicles people were sceptic as to what the result would be, but it turned into another great series of books en par with Sharpe.

    Winter King is the first book in his Warlord Trilogy. The book begins with an old monk named Derfel, a Saxon, born in dark age Britain who stood with the Britons against the invading Saxons. He is visited by a young British princess who would like to know the story of a man he had thought alongside. Arthur.

    From here on we read of Derfel's life from his childhood under the watchful eye of the druid Merlin to his growth to his man as he meets the legendary characters from the Arthur legend including Guinevere, Galahad, Lancelot, Tristram and more, all within the lice ridden filth and bloody war of Dark Age Britain.

    The fact that the world around the tale is so real - the beds are filled with lice, the people are superstitious to the extreme, Derfel himself is scared of druid magic that he can never be sure is real or not, men fight in the constant push of swords and spears in the shield wall - is part of what makes this book so exciting to read.

    The book moves forwards at a quick pace, the narrative being consistent and engaging throughout. As Derfel begins his tale, he writes of the birth of the High King Uther's grandson, Mordred, the next king of Dunmonia, the leading kingdom of Britain. From here on Derfel begins moving from his young life inside the comfortable childhood home of Merlin into that of a man as he is thrown into the hard warrior life style. It is at this time that he first meets Arthur, Uther's bastard. Throughout the book,they fight together in an attempt to protect Mordred's kingdom, battling the rival kingdoms of Britain whilst at the same time, seeking to unite them with the approaching Saxon invasion. In their fight, Derfel will travel across the length and breadth of Britain, the Saxon held east, the land of Brittany under pressure from the Franks and even take part in the famed quest for the Holy Grail.

    Derfel himself is an extremely interesting character, who often finds it hard to keep to his own Moral compass and, at times, he finds it hard as to where his loyalties lie. Does it lie with his native people, the Saxons, his friends amongst the Britons, his King or to the oaths he has made?

    Another important part of this book is the battle between religions. The pagans battling the Christians is a theme common throughout the tale, and indeed, the full series in which Derfel sees Britain become weaker as Christianity takes hold. Even though I am Catholic myself, I found myself rooting for the pagans ;)

    If you read this book - and I hope you all will - you will find it hard to put down from the first page to the last. As always, Cornwell has written a wondrous book that burns on the memory long after you've finished that will always have coming back to re-read it again and again until you manage to get your hands on the sequels that follow named Enemy of God and Excalibur, both of which are equally great to read.

    [ September 10, 2005, 19:03: Message edited by: The Kilted Crusader ]
  2. Spellbound

    Spellbound Fleur de Mystique Distinguished Member ★ SPS Account Holder Veteran

    May 2, 2002
    Likes Received:
    Great review, KC. I love reading historical fiction of any kind -- I'll be sure to pick this one up! :thumb:
  3. Nocturnal Nomad Gems: 7/31
    Latest gem: Tchazar

    Feb 22, 2003
    Likes Received:
    Yeah, I agree. Good review, and I'll be sure to pick it up next time I see it.
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