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.