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.