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The Winter King (A Novel of Arthur: The Warlord Chronicles) [Hardcover]

Bernard Cornwell
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (127 customer reviews)

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Book Description

5 Oct 1995 A Novel of Arthur: The Warlord Chronicles
Arthur is set in his true period, the Dark Ages, in this novel. It is not a story of romance, but one of political and religious strife, and war. It describes Arthur's love for Guinevere, Lancelot's arrival, the conflict between Christianity and magic, and the Saxon invasions on Britain.

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: 23.6 x 16.2 x 4.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (127 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 199,010 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 is the author of many historical thrillers, including the SHARPE series which was a highly successful television drama. He was born in London but now lives in America. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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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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Front Cover | Copyright | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
77 of 78 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Historically plausible 21 April 2006
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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49 of 51 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Twlight of the Gods.... 27 Feb 1999
By A Customer
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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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Grows on you! 2 Dec 2004
Cornwell's Arthur saga is a new touch to the old legends and lore about perhaps the most famous king of all times. It is a wondrous thing that we "know" so much about him, when we cannot even say for certain that he ever existed.
Guinevere, Lancelot and Merlin, Hector, Gawain; Galahad and many more familiar names turn up, only perhaps not as you would be used to seeing them. Lancelot is a snob, a coward and a generally disliked figure, Guinevere a heathen priestess.

Arthur is the strong, seemingly invincible warlord, strong in action but insecure in life.

The book grew on me and I ploughed through it and eagerly awaited the sequels.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The best of Cornwell's work 13 Aug 2004
I read the Warlord trilogy as soon as it was published and I've just finished re-reading all three books ("The Winter King" is the first). I remembered that I had enjoyed the books immensely first time around - and they were no less gripping second time!
I've read two or three of Cornwell's Sharpe novels and his most recent, the Grail Quest trilogy. In my opinion his Arthurian stories are much, much better than the others. So, if you enjoy Sharpe, you ought to enjoy these books - if you don't like Sharpe, don't let them put you off!
I've read plenty of Arthurian literature, and I reckon The Warlord trilogy comprises the best I've encountered. Set in a believable 5th century, with the vestiges of Rome competing with British resurgence, competing with Saxon invasions and with encroaching Christianity, the plot isn't hugely complex, but complex enough to be believable. The battle scenes are gritty and visceral. Most important, as another reviewer has noted, the myth of Lancelot is brilliantly shattered (I love it when authors turn the tables on traditional heroes).
There is also plenty of humour. Cornwell makes Merlin a very funny character, showing a weary cynicism that competes with his fervour to save Britain. Sometimes I felt his humour was inappropriate, then changed my mind as it helped to show that here was a man (druid) who is operating on a totally different level from anyone else.
All in all, an extremely good book, and well worth reading.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fantastic Historical Novel 22 Feb 2002
By A Customer
"The Winter King" is the high point of Cornwell's writing. From the gruesome battle scenes at Benoic to the spirit-strewn Isle of the Dead, the book is vivid in detail and leaves the reader feeling as though they have lived the myth. In my opinion the characters are the most compelling factor of the novel. Arthur, the noble warlord with visions of a united Britain. Derfel, a Pagan spearman who narrates. Nimue, the fiery and, at times, slightly disturbing priestess. Lancelot, the conceited, self-appointed 'warrior'. Guninevere, the strong-willed wife of Arthur who must be surrounded by beautiful things. Mordred, the maimed babe edling who has Dumnonia's future on his tiny shoulders. And the enemies are just as intriguing. The bloody Saxons; the evil Gundleus; the viscious Franks. The battle scenes are truly terrifying and prayed on my mind for days afterwards. I breathed a huge sigh of relief when I heard about the next books in the trilogy - "Enemy of God" and then "Excalibur". I have great faith in them both.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Hard to get into
Published 9 days ago by JOHN FREER
4.0 out of 5 stars Bernard Cornwell novels are the best
I've not read this yet, I'm pleased with the condition of the book and it arrived very quickly. I'm sure it will be a good read.
Published 2 months ago by Radio Fan
4.0 out of 5 stars Fictional and History combination
A very in
tersting story, I look forward to reading the next novel. A good mixture of history and fiction.
Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
3.0 out of 5 stars Rather disappointing
I don't know what I was expecting but this was rather disappointing as we know so very little of what is called'the dark ages' and I found this more imaginative than factual,... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Rosemary E Fletcher
4.0 out of 5 stars A New Cornwell Starter !
As expected , you are left wanting more and more. Brilliantly written as per usual . Cornwell followers will not be suprised !
Published 2 months ago by Sean Crumpton
5.0 out of 5 stars The Winter King
I had read Excalibur and wanted to read the first two, I really enjoyed it and ma now part way through The Last Kingdom
Published 2 months ago by Patricia Day
4.0 out of 5 stars Some interesting variations on a well worn theme.
Arthur has a perennial appeal, and there is some decent research and knowledge of both period and geography underlying this version. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Ms L. Gooch
5.0 out of 5 stars A new take on King Arthur, Lancalot, Galahad and the others in the...
This is a great read, once started you will not want to stop until the end of the third book.
Published 4 months ago by L. F. Heasman
5.0 out of 5 stars gripping
excellent from start to finish. blood and love and war and history. simply couldn't put down. Cornwall trilogies at there best
Published 5 months ago by phil
2.0 out of 5 stars Bernard Cornwell
THE WRITING IS SUCH THAT IT GRABS THE IMAGINATION. I always find Bernard Cornwell's writing does this. It's difficult to put one of his books down once started.
Published 5 months ago by E P Goldsmith
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