Excalibur is a magical finale to this Arthurian tale, infused with heroism and tragedy. It swept me from one emotion to the next.
"Tell your father" I said, "That I loved him to the end."
Excalibur is the third and final book in The Warlord Chronicles by Bernard Cornwell. It brings about the conclusion of the best Arthurian novels I have ever had the privilege to read.
"This tale of Arthur, my Lord, my friend and the deliverer of Britain."
Excalibur was utterly brilliant, just like its predecessors. It is the finale of a story that has immersed me into the lives of the characters and sent me on an emotional rollercoaster, from euphoria to misery.
This book contained the largest scale conflicts of the trilogy, with numerous wars taking place and great battles deciding the fate of the country. One of the best duels I have had the pleasure to read was in this, as I am sure any previous reader will remember! It was mesmerising, the tension and description moulding together to make the scene truly incredible. I will remember this duel for many years to come.
Cornwell's prose, as expected, was as marvellous in this instalment. It just glides perfectly from one scene to the next, painting a vivid representation in his flawless manner. His humour is witty and perfectly used with Merlin, who makes dry and sharp comments that made me laugh out loud.
"Only a fool wants war, but once a war starts then it cannot be fought half-heartedly. It cannot even be fought with regret, but must be waged with a savage joy in defeating the enemy, and it is that savage joy that inspires our bards to write their greatest songs about love and war."
So many acts of heroism were performed that had me physically grinning. And then there were the despicable actions that had me weeping as characters I have grown to love were mistreated by those whose ambitions were insatiable. Some of my most loved and hated characters in fiction are in this book! I will genuinely miss Derfel and Arthur.
While Excalibur had its fair share of tragedy to say the least, it was also made complete with moments of bitter satisfaction and heroic deeds that softened the blow, but not enough to stem the tears and state of mourning that ensued. This antithesis of emotions formed a truly unique reading journey that has placed Excalibur as one of my top ten books of all time.
"So, in the morning light, where they flapped in the drying wind, the bear and the star defied the Saxons."
Excalibur and the series on the whole was a wonderful, brutal, heart-wrecnhing, beautiful story about friendship and loyalty. I wept at multiple points and was left in shock at how much my emotions were manipulated during this read.
But now I must say farewell to this novel and all its contents. So goodbye to Derfel and his inspiring loyalty, Merlin and his wisdom, Galahad and his kindness, and of course, Arthur, the Lord and saviour of Britain.
Enemy of God was an immersive journey that transported me into the Dark Ages to experience this incredible Arthurian tale.
"So many dead. Their footsteps will not stir a rush on the floor nor frighten the mice that live in the monastery's thatched roof."
Enemy of God is the second book of The Warlord Chronicles by Bernard Cornwell. It continues the unique historical perspective about the origins of Arthur and his band of loyal warriors.
Enemy of God reached the lofty heights of its predecessor and continued to grow past it. This wonderful, thrilling, heart-wrenching, tense novel contains all of the brilliant aspects of the first in the series. It continued to captivate me with the brilliant characters and plot and action and unique take on the Arthurian tales.
"For this is his tale, the tale of our dear warlord, our law-giver, our Arthur."
Enemy of God is from the perspective of Derfel Cadarn, as was The Winter King. He reminisces on his experiences of Arthur, whom he accompanied through his struggles and shared the failures and successes of. Derfel has cemented his position as one of my favourite characters of all time with his loyalty, daring, determination and kindness.
Cornwell continues to write with that magical prose of his that guides my eyes from page to page as I accompany the characters the characters through their adventures. Each scene is so vivid and fluid, and there was not one dull moment. Rather, each page was consumed with an interesting event, description or character.
"Fate is inexorable."
The plot continues to develop brilliantly and had me laughing out loud once again. I deeply despise certain characters and cherish others, just what I want from any book that I read. This novel was filled with unexpected twists, extremely satisfying moments and times of despair. I was weeping at one point of the book, I am sure any former reader of the series will remember what scene I am referring to, and think of it with sorrow.
The gritty realistic world is developed as before, with Cornwell's historical knowledge leaking into every page with intricate details that add a much sought after depth, and create a vivid experiance.
"It's only when you're lost and frightened and in the dark that you call on the Gods, and they like us to call on them. It makes them feel powerful, and that's why they like us to live in chaos."
I strongly advise any lovers of historical fiction, or the stories of Arthur to read this. You will not be disappointed!
The Winter King is a realistic portrayal of the Arthurian tales that is executed in a perfect manner, being both brilliant and immersive. One of my favourite books of all time!
"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 retelling of the chronicles of Arthur.
The Winter King is the first book in The Warlord Chronicles that is a unique take on the story of Arthur set during the dark ages. I have always loved tales of this variety, with Arthur and the round table, and this is no exception. It is the best book I have read that incorporates this as the main concept, because of a fantastic balance of character development, plot and action.
"Fate is inexorable."
Cornwell chooses certain aspects from the tales and adapts them to create a plot that cannot be predetermined by the reader, so the story is told is a new, unique, immersive journey. He produces this book in a masterful style overflowing with intriguing plots and fantastic characters.
The sole point of view is Derfel, who was born a Saxon, but raised a Briton in the Kingdom of Dumnonia. He features as the main character and recounts the past in the style of an omniscient narrator, as he records his experience both prior to Arthur and with Arthur. He is a man who values loyalty and kindness, and proves it many times. It is hard not to fall in love with him as the story progress and you discover his faults and virtues, and how he treats all around him.
“How much of our earth has been wet by blood because of jealousy! And at the end of life, what does it all matter? We grow old and the young look at us and can never see that once we made a kingdom ring for love.”
The prose of Bernard Cornwell is superb and flows brilliantly, with a perfect amount of description and action. It is fluid and smooth, making it an easy job to consume quickly as the plot constantly develops in a manner that disallowed any boredom.
The setting is in the south-west of Britain in the Kingdom of Dumnonia during the Dark Ages. It is a gritty place presented realistically and vividly, with a mixture of strongholds both large and small, along with outlying villages that are poorly prepared for imminent attacks.
The Winter King is a definite five star review in my opinion due to it being written in one of my favourite writing styles I have encountered, and the incorporation of some subjects I am most interested in.