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on 23 May 2013
The final book of the series is just as brilliant as the previous two. Any reader who enjoys the Arthurian legends must read this first class fantastic epic trilogy. It is very unique and written with such realism, the book is so difficult to put down. I neglected all sorts of tasks to keep reading and was dreading finishing it as I was absorbed in the world of Arthur Pendragon. Sadly this is the last of the trilogy. Like the first two, it is wonderfully written, historically accurate and eminently readable. Other reviewers have remarked that there is no magic, no Merlin and no romanticism in Helen's take on the Arthurian legends.That is true, it is down to earth, gritty and dark yet truly magical in the telling of her story. Her main characters are realistically created. The last words on the last page of this last book in the trilogy sum up the legendary Arthur Pendragon. " But none shall forget your name" Gwenhwyfar said on a quiet tear-caught breath. "None shall forget the man who was the Pendragon, Arthur. My King"
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on 7 September 2001
I have to agree with the previous reviewer. Helen Hollick has managed to create the best portrayal of Arthur, Guinevere and the rest of the characters that I have ever read. And again, I have read a lot (Arthurian legend being probably my favourite genre). I was glad that she chose to exclude Lancelot from the story although I did miss Merlin a little. The ending of this book is far superior to any other ending of this legend. The only other series that comes close is Bernard Cornwell's Warlord Chronicles although these are much darker and and concenrate on the battles. Helen Hollick's is a brilliant tale of Dark Age politics and humanity. You will not regret buying this book.
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This is the third novel completing the Pendragon Trilogy by Helen Hollick. Without question this is an outstanding trilogy, brilliantly researched, brilliantly presented. This lady is a British writer to be proud of. She brings the Arthurian legend to life in a manner never before done, using real life characters who lived at the time interwoven with the legendary characters and gives flesh, blood and bones to them all. A reader who fails to respond to the emotive content is a reader devoid of any value of the heritage in the early formation of what was eventually to become Saxon England with the Celtic tribes established in Wales, Scotland, Cornwall and Brittany. Helen adequately covers the religious turmoil between the Christian and the "Old" religions in such a way that makes it believable and understandable. Her knowledge of immediately post-Roman Britain is prominent and comprehensive. All in all, this is a trilogy for any historical fan to read, savour and inwardly digest and is totally recommended.
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on 16 March 2001
Don't read this book (or any of the trilogy) expecting a tale of mystery, magic and Merlin. Rather a historian's view of what the real Arthur and Britain in the post-Roman, pre-Saxon age might have been like. This is a time when Rome has deserted the British and the English are only just arriving from 'Germany' bringing with them upheaval and a constant struggle for power. A time when 1000 soldiers is considered a major force and tribal and ethnic loyalties are constantly shifting. As in real life many people are looking to the past and the glory of Rome while others want to look to the future. Not as clear a distinction as it sounds. Dirt, death, tragedy and a nicely dispassionate view of life and death keeps the books rocking along even though they are quite substantial. I did manage to put it down but it did certainly keep me popping back as often as possible.
If I did have one criticism it was that Guinevere (spelt in the more realistic Welsh fashion in this book) was possibly a little bit more of a modern feminist action hero than I feel reasonable. But then again what is a novel without a challenging interpretation of life and love.
I found it very interesting that the origin of the sword from the stone could be because the Latin for 'out of a stone' (ex saxo) is similar to 'from a Saxon' (ex saxone). Sounds reasonable!
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on 12 April 2001
By far the best version of the Arthur legend I have read so far - and I've read a few!
Helen Hollick combines fact with fiction to create a very real and credible Arthur. Her trilogy is packed with suspense, passion and pathos and is totally addictive! I defy anyone who does not fall in love with at least one of her beautifully developped and fully rounded characters, be it with her headstrong Gwenhwyfar or with her rugged Arthur.
Unlike most contemporary Arthurian novels, Helen omits the characters of Lancelot and Merlin, and rationalises the magical elements of the legend, one would think to the disappointment of the reader. Without a shadow of a doubt, however poor Merlin and Lancelot were not missed by me in the slightest, despite my being a lover of all these magical and romantic elements in previous novels.
'The Kingmaking', 'Pendragon's Banner' and 'Shadow Of The King' are all absolute 'musts' for anyone who enjoys a damn good read, and the sooner a film maker puts them on the big screen, the better!
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 12 December 2008
Shadow of the King takes up where Pendragon's Banner left off, as Britain is at peace and Arthur and Gwenhyfar live at Caer Cadon with their young daughter Archfedd. Arthur is convinced by the Roman Emperor to sail for Gaul and defend it against the barbarians who wish to destroy it, along with Arthur's lands in lesser Britain. Once there, the campaign becomes mired in politics, backbiting, intrigues and treachery and Arthur is there much longer than originally intended. Once the battle is engaged, it does not go well and Arthur is presumed dead and left to Morgaine's care to see to his burial.

Arthur's uncle, Ambrosius, now governs Britain with his council, but they are not strong enough to fight off the Saxon threat, including Arthur's wicked ex-wife Winifred and her son Cerdic. Gwenhyfar grieves for Arthur's loss, but she must marry and have a husband to look after her interests. Not happy with Ambrosius' choice she looks to Arthur's younger cousin Bedwyr who has been in love with her since he was a young boy. They become lovers but something always holds Gwenhyfar back from the marriage ceremony, until one day when rumors come from The Place of the Lady that sends Gwen in search of.......

Well I won't tell since I am not into spoilers, although those familiar with the legends know how the story goes. The rest of the story details how Hollick envisions the politics and history of the time, the growing threat of the Saxons as the Britains battle to keep them at bay and the struggles for power between Arthur's sons Cerdic, Medraud (Mordred) and Cynric (or is he Cerdic's son?), until the final fateful battle that threatens to end Camelot once and for all.

As much as I did enjoy this book, I also found it to be very slow paced at times and definitely the weakest in the trilogy. Also, the author's prose was very reminiscent of Penman's early works but by the third book those short sentences and oddly placed commas were getting a bit tiresome. If you're looking for another glorified, romantic version of Arthur with honorable knights, magic and ladies in constant peril waiting for her knight to rescue her then this series is not for you. However, if you're looking for something more down to earth and realistic you might want to give this a whirl. A generous 4/5 stars.

The series in order,
The Kingmaking
Pendragon's Banner
Shadow of the King
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on 8 November 2013
Had a job to put down wanted to know what happened next. Got to love Arthur. But you need to read the first books to get the feel of the love his people had for him and his family. He is no saint but life in those times seemed to be kill or be killed. Hope he did exist and Helen's fantastic books are close to the truth of his life.
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on 22 May 2013
I have to confess that my favourite telling of the Arthurian legend is still Rosemary Sutcliff's Sword at Sunset but I also have to say that Helen Hollick's Pendragon Banner trilogy comes in very close behind. Like the rest of her books, these three have exceptionally realistic characters and settings that transport us to an entirely credible 5th Century Britain. Congratulations to the author. I hated getting to the end. These are excellent reads.
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on 13 June 2001
this is the last of a trilogy - the best EVER that I have read I was in tears at the end It's a big book but I read it through in three days - I just couldn't put it down. If you are a fan of Arthurian or historical fiction then read these books!
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on 12 April 2001
By far the best version of the Arthur legend I have read so far - and I've read a few! Helen Hollick combines fact with fiction to create a very real and credible Arthur. Her trilogy is packed with suspense, passion and pathos and is totally addictive! I defy anyone who does not fall in love with at least one of her beautifully developped and fully rounded characters, be it with her headstrong Gwenhwyfar or with her rugged Arthur.
Unlike most contemporary Arthurian novels, Helen omits the characters of Lancelot and Merlin, and rationalises the magical elements of the legend, one would think to the disappointment of the reader. Without a shadow of a doubt, however poor Merlin and Lancelot were not missed by me in the slightest, despite my being a lover of all these magical and romantic elements in previous novels.
'The Kingmaking', 'Pendragon's Banner' and 'Shadow Of The King' are all absolute 'musts' for anyone who enjoys a damn good read, and the sooner a film maker puts them on the big screen, the better!
0Comment| 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

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