"I have to confess that of all the books I have written, these three are my favourites.” – Bernard Cornwell
2 months and 20 books after my last 5/5 stars read, the end to that slump is finally here, for I have found a new addition to my favorite shelves in a genre I rarely ventured. Cornwell has a new fan and this might be a sign for me to dive into more Historical Fiction in the future.
Excalibur, the third and the last book in the Warlord Chronicles trilogy is definitely the best entry out of the trilogy. I’ll try to keep this review as brief possible to avoid any kind of spoiler, I’ve talked about what made the trilogy great in my previous reviews, the only thing missing was the battle and war scenes I’ve come to expect from the genre, and they’re finally here.
Cornwell’s capability in weaving plot and unfold them slowly is impeccable. He’s a masterful storyteller and one of the few authors whose prose worked wonderfully to me. Both George R R Martin and John Gwynne stated that Bernard Cornwell is their personal best author when it comes to battle scenes and this book finally reveals the truth on that notion.
“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.”
Three intricate, fast paced duels with a lot of stakes behind each one, the 130 pages of war filled with siege, tactics, clashing shield walls against the Saxon at Mynydd Baddon, and the thrilling climax, were all so epic, thrilling and breathtaking.
Everything about Derfel and Arthur also reached closure here, the story that was told from 480 AD until 525 AD, full of loss, tragedy, friendship, familial love, war, heroism, betrayal, everything has been waged and fought and the ending has reached the most appropriate conclusion.
I do admit that I wish for one more chapter of epilogue for more closure for two character, but when it comes down to it, this series has never been only about Derfel, it’s about Arthur and the people he met as well and for that, I can't ask for any other end.
Picture: Fanart of Derfel Cadarn by chronicvillainy on Deviantart
Often I had to remind my brain that this story is fiction. The book is superbly written and Cornwell’s Arthur formed out of the blend of legend and imagination has brought forth original characters, retelling and amazing plots that reminds us how deep the history humanity has left us, how much we, despite living in a totally different age and civilization still remained the same with the people of our past. Fate, as Merlin says, is inexorable.
“History is not just a tale of men’s making, but is a thing tied to the land. We call a hill by the name of a hero who died there, or name a river after a princess who fled beside its banks, and when the old names vanish, the stories go with them and the new names carry no reminder of the past.”
This book was published exactly 20 years ago, I was only 8 years old back then and yet, it became and still the best Arthurian saga I’ve ever had the chance to experience, not to mention superior in comparison to a huge amount of high fantasy books I’ve read. It’s Cornwell’s personal favorite books that he ever wrote and it’s now included in one of my favorite trilogies of all time list. That's all I have to say on this review.
I totally recommend this to anyone who’s a fan of Historical Fiction genre, Arthurian saga, or just want a marvelous book with great storytelling in general. The Warlord Chronicles trilogy is an incredible retelling of a name. A name which personification cannot be put proven to exist by countless historians, a name that brought forth countless retelling, adaptation and a name that may have truly became ‘real’ in the perception of many despite the lack of proofs. His name is Arturus Rex Quondam, Rexque Futurus: Arthur, our Once and Future King.
The Winter King: 4.5/5 Stars
Enemy of God: 4.5/5 Stars
Excalibur: 5/5 Stars
The Warlord Chronicles: 14/15 Stars