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Chuck gave me this one a while ago & finally convinced me to read it.  I have to
admit I wasn't anxious for another Arthurian series.  However, Cornwell has
tried to demythologize the story & return it to somewhat historical roots &, in
so doing, has made it his own.

Camelot is the Kingdom of Dumnonia. Arthur is Uther's unacknowledged bastard
son.  Merlin is fighting a rearguard battle against Christianity.  Modred, heir
to Uther's throne, is Arthur's infant nephew & Arthur is his sworn protector.
Guinevere is a manipulative wench & triggers the action in the book when Arthur
breaks a betrothal to elope with her.  It all makes for a thrilling read.

I do have one major problem with the book.  The reason that the Arthur myth is
so central to Western literature is because it is a Christian myth.  But
Cornwell takes a pretty antagonistic stance against Christianity.  At the same
time, the Arthur he portrays has the qualities of a Christian knight; for
instance, he views the job of a soldier as fighting for those who can't fight
for themselves.  This attempt to make Arthur a figure worthy of myth, but
without the Christian trappings, seems fundamentally dishonest to me.


Grade: (B)


See also:

Bernard Cornwell (2 books reviewed)
Historical Fiction
Bernard Cornwell Links:

    -AUTHOR SITE: Bernard Cornwell: Britain's Storyteller -INFO: Bernard Cornwell (Wikipedia)
    -PROFILE: Bernard Cornwell (Bookreporter)
    -FAN SITE: The Sharpe Appreciation Society
    -FAN SITE: Sharpe's Books
    -PROFILE: Anonymous: Bernard Cornwell may be a prolific, best-selling author, but he's still trying to make a name for himself here (Alex Beam, December 23, 2004, The Boston Globe)
Cornwell once met O'Brian, whose work he greatly admires. 'He criticized me," Cornwell recalls. 'He once wrote, 'Cornwell and [Horatio Hornblower creator C.S.] Forester -- too much plot, not enough lifestyle.' He was fascinated by lifestyle and he was very good at it." Cornwell put Sharpe onboard a Royal Navy vessel in his 2000 novel 'Sharpe's Trafalgar" and matched O'Brian's penchant for detail topgallant sail for topgallant sail, with a stem-winding plot thrown in.

    -INTERVIEW: Desert Island Discs with Bernard Cornwell (BBC4)
    -INTERVIEW: Chatham Author Bernard Cornwell (Interview by Christopher Seufert, My Chatham)
    -INTERVIEW: BERNARD CORNWELL author of Sharpe's Prey (January Magazine, July 2001)
    -INTERVIEW: Life After Sharpe: Bernard Cornwell talks to Richard Lee about laziness and hitting barn doors. (Historical Novel Society)
    -INTERVIEW: Bernard Cornwell Q&A (Bean Zine, 01 September 1997)
    -INTERVIEW: The following is an edited version of an online chat with Bernard Cornwell (, 1st December 1999)
    -REVIEW ESSAY: Bernard Cornwell's King Alfred in the twenty-first century: Fictional portraits of the king who burned the cakes from the nineteenth century to the present day (Joanne Parker , Times Literary Supplement)
    -REVIEW: of STONEHENGE 2000 B.C. By Bernard Cornwell (Michael Porter, NY Times Book Review)

    -FILMOGRAPHY: Bernard Cornwell (
    -INFO: Sharpe's Rifles (1993) (
    -Sharpe the Series
    -LYRICS: Over the Hills and Far Away

Book-related and General Links:

Other books by Bernard Cornwell:
    -Sharpe's Rifles : Richard Sharpe and the French Invasion of Galicia, January 1809
    -Sharpe's Eagle : Richard Sharpe and the Talavera Campaign July 1809
    -Sharpe's Gold : Richard Sharpe and the Destruction of Almeida, August 1810
    -Sharpe's Company : The Siege of Badajoz

    -INTERVIEW:  BERNARD CORNWELL author of Sharpe's Prey (January Magazine, July 2001)

If you liked The Winter King, try:

Bradley, Marion Zimmer
    -The Mists of Avalon

Penman, Sharon Kay
    -Falls the Shadow

Roberson, Jennifer
    -The Lady of the Forest

Sienkiewicz, Henryk
    -With Fire and Sword
    -The Teutonic Knights

Stewart, Mary
    (The Merlin Trilogy)
        -The Crystal Cave
        -The Hollow Hills
        -The Last Enchantment

Tranter, Nigel
    -The Bruce Trilogy

White, TH
    -The Once and Future King

Whyte, Jack
    (Camlud Chronicles)
        -The Skystone
        -The Singing Sword