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on 21 February 2017
What a story! Can't believe that I've come so late to Helen Hollicks wonderful writing. 'Pendrgon's Banner' and 'Shadow of the King' have been sitting on my bookshelf for years unread... .I turned to them in desperation when utterly bored with the repetitive history fiction I've read lately....by authors worthy of more! 'The Kingmaking' I bought on kindle. I fell in love with Arthur from the start, a flesh and blood hero with flaws and his feisty Gwen made for each other and believable (within the realms of legend). Helen Hollicks wonderful trilogy doesn't rely on unnecessary padding and her descriptions are heart rending. I'm reading the series again and know I'll end in tears for Arthur. Here is an writer in the older style not ' jump on the bandwagon writing!' Read and enjoy.....
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on 5 August 2017
I absolutely loved The Kingmaking, the first in Helen Hollick's Pendragon's Banner Trilogy. The characterisation is superb, the action scenes memorable, and the grasp of the political machinations is so good it's like an extra fix of Game of Thrones!

Arthur is at times very unlikeable: no modern man in fancy dress here but a man of his time - and that time was brutal. As for Gwenhyfar, I thought she was a brilliant heroine, at times strong, at times horribly vulnerable. Their relationship is compelling and feels true - no sickly romance here either!

Pendragon's Banner, the second in the trilogy, dropped through my letterbox this morning (actually they put it in the wheelie bin but I managed to rescue it!) and I can't wait to start reading it.

Disclosure: the author is known to me as we are both SilverWood authors. However this is my honest opinion of the book.
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VINE VOICEon 13 May 2011
This novel,the first in a trilogy recommended and endorsed by Sharon Penman, an historical novelist of undisputable quality and literary experience, is by an author who shows the same intrinsic values although the subject matter is so different. Helen Hollick has taken legend and given it the "reality" treatment. As Sharon has done with so many real historical figures, Helen has brought flesh, blood, and bone to the names of legend (and some genuine figures from history as well)who may well have lived, but have no chronicled proof of existence - Arthur, Gwenhwyfar ( I love that she has used the correct form of the name) etc.
The early chapters are set in the town where I grew up, which Helen calls Caer Arfon, which became Caer yn Arfon and is now known as Caernarfon. Her knowledge of the area shines.
Sharon's endorsement speaks for itself, so suffice to say, this is a must for any King Arthur fan, telling the story without the "magic" as an account of the rise of a leader of men in a down to earth manner that is easy to relate to. Brilliant.
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on 14 January 2017
The whole Pendragon trilogy (this is the first of the three novels) is wholly absorbing. It is remarkable for its plot, sense of time, sense of place, descriptive prose and dialogue. If you're after perfect knights in shining armour, this is not for you. If Arthur existed at all, he was much more likely to have been as the author portrays him here: a Briton uniting the tribes to fight off the Saxon invaders. The leadinmg characters are human, with strong weaknesses which make them real, and strengths which makes one love them. I thoroughly recommend entering into the Pendragon's world. By the end you'll feel that you've lived there to the full.
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on 7 June 2016
Loved it. Hated to leave it.

I am a fan of the genre but not of the medieval romance stories. This was a much more down to earth, believable telling. Arthur a flawed but determined leader of men with little patience with politics and the much maligned Gwenhwyfar as a loving wife and mother.
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on 26 July 2013
Spell-binding, magnificent, gutsy, heartbreaking, raw with bloodshed, triumphant! Helen Hollick's Arthurian trilogy quickly draws you into the world of legend. No genteel fairytale story of Camelot, this! Gutsy, sweaty, and real. The Dark Ages brought vividly, to life! This is the legend I want to believe in. Yes it is cruel in places, but they were cruel times. I want to read about them, but I'm glad not to have lived through them. Still, I feel as though, for a while, I was there - and it was breath-taking!
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on 8 June 2014
Yet again, a really good engrossing read. Just love the way the author makes the pages come alive with great storytelling.
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on 28 April 2014
Excellent book. Cannot put the book down. Helen Holliick must have spent months or years researching the background of the subject, as a result she has ended up with a fine book.
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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 23 April 2013
First time with this author and I've enjoyed it. I don't have a lot of time to read but the book was worth it.
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