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The Winter King (A Novel of Arthur: The Warlord Chronicles) Hardcover – 5 Oct 1995

173 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Michael Joseph Ltd; First edition (5 Oct. 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0718137620
  • ISBN-13: 978-0718137625
  • Product Dimensions: 16 x 4 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (173 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 80,887 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Bernard Cornwell was born in London, raised in Essex, and now lives mainly in the USA with his wife. In addition to the hugely successful Sharpe novels, Bernard Cornwell is the author of the Starbuck Chronicles, the Warlord trilogy, the Grail Quest series and the Alfred series.

Product Description

About the Author

Bernard Cornwell, bestselling author of the Warlord Chronicles and the Sharpe series, is married and lives in Cape Cod, USA. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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First Sentence
ONCE UPON A TIME, in a land that was called Britain, these things happened. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

82 of 84 people found the following review helpful By A. R. Wilkinson on 21 April 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Nobody knows the truth about King Arthur. What Cornwell presents here is an historically plausible version of the familiar tales. He's stripped away all the romanticised, magical, mediaeval nonsense. In its place he's given us the story of a warlord struggling to unite the British kingdoms in the wake of the collapse of Roman rule in the face of invasion by the English and the Saxons, and the growing influence of a middle-eastern cult called Christianity. The charactersisation is well-rounded and the evocation of time and place is stunning. Many of the characters and battles refer to real people and events documented in Dark Ages history. Most of the usual Arthurian characters and episodes are present, but re-told within this pre-English British context, e.g. there is no hunt for the Holy Grail, but there is a search for a mystical, Druidic cauldron. Good quality writing, great adventures and a great study of leadership and national identity. The other two books in the series are equally strong, and are highly recommended too.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By J. Chippindale TOP 500 REVIEWER on 2 Sept. 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Bernard Cornwell is one of that rare breed of authors who are able to write convincingly on a broad range of subjects. Present day thrillers, the Sharpe novels about riflemen in the days of the Duke of Wellington, even an ancient historical novel about Stonehenge and it doesn't come much more ancient than that. His more recent novels have been about the Saxons and very good they are too. But I think that the trilogy he has written about the Arthurian legends are certainly among the best, if not the best of his novels.

The legends of King Arthur hold a magical attraction for many people, myself included and I enjoy reading about them very much. The tales of Arthur and his knights of the round table riding about in full and shining armour are of course a total nonsense and a more or less modern day depiction of Arthur. Suits of armour were not even invented until several hundred years after Arthur's death, if indeed he existed at all. But if he did it would be more around the time in which the Winter King is set.

Mr. Cornwell puts a more realistic slant on the existence of Arthur in or around the sixth century, and the author himself believes that Arthur was some sort of war chief rather than a king.

The book begins after the death of Uther Pendragon, an event that has left Britain in turmoil. Britain needs a strong hand to keep the squabbling tribes of Britain from one another's throats. Can he hold Uther's throne for the infant heir . . .
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54 of 57 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 27 Feb. 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The Romans have left Britain, and the long dark night begins to cover the land... this is historical fiction as it should be written...dark, bloody, funny at times, with characters that you actually care about. Arthurian novels really are ten a penny these days and Bernard Cornwell must have been very aware of this fact when he opted to write a trilogy based upon the legends. What he has done is to go back to the original Dark Age and craft a Britain set during the twilight days of paganism, as the Christians begin to make themselves heard, as the warring tribes strive to hold back the Saxons from their lands, as the Roman technology begins to crumble, rust, and be forgotten. In doing so, he has written the only Arthurian books worth reading, outside of Robert Nye's classic 'Merlin'. The subtleties within this book, and the trilogy overall, are marvellous... is this a fantasy novel? Well, there's plenty of magick, but it's of a psychological nature... you're never quite sure whether magick actually works... certainly the characters believe it does, but there's always a rational explanation for any effect, in addition to a supernatural one. The first book of the series sets the scene, introduces the characters and allows Arthur to make his initial mistakes, the repercussions of which will dog him until the bitter end. The key to the series is realism. Battles are fought with shield walls of frightened men who need to get drunk before they have the courage to charge. There is mud, and there is rain, and there is the slight glimmer of hope that Arthur's plans really will build a better Britain.... And then it all goes horribly wrong... These are real people, with real emotions, not the stock, cardboard clichés of nearly all Fantasy novels these days. The Winter King is an exhilarating start to a classic series. If you have any interest in Fantasy and/or the Dark Age period, this really is about as good as it gets.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Robin White on 17 Feb. 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Cornwell really is one of the nation's most impressive authors. And whether he's writing a maritime thriller or a napoleonic war novel, he never disapoints.

The Winter King sees the beginning of the Warlord Chronicles, quite possibly the best series he's written, and follows the story of Derfel, through childhood, into Arthur's service and in the following books, through war and into his old age.

Really a top quality read, and I've been through these books 3 or 4 times by now - they're old friends.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mr. D. Lawrie on 23 May 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I didn't think this and the other books in the series would be good, as most stories about Arthur I usually find to be quite poor, this definitely isn't. In fact I found it excellent.
The whole story comes from the viewpoint of Derfel, who was a captain in Arthurs army, and it doesn't paint a rosy picture of Arthur, instead he and all the characters have fully rounded personalities, all with their own weaknesses and foibles. It isn't just the way the characters are written that makes the book, the descriptions of the various situations, most especially the battles , is fantastic. When I got the the main battle in this first book, I couldn't stop and had to finish the book there and then, such was its power. The druids and the "magic" are handled in a great way as well, none of the cliched spells that would get in a normal fantasy novel. I can't recommend this book enough.
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