Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Kingmaking

The Kingmaking: Book One of the Pendragon's Banner Trilogy by Helen Hollick

Published by: Sourcebooks Landmark
Published on: March 1, 2009
First published in 1994
592 pages
ISBN: 1402218885

Book 23 of 100 for the 100+ Reading Challenge

This is a different type of King Arthur book. There is no Lancelot, Merlin, or magic. But, Helen Hollick has obviously done an extraordinary amount of research to create a tale that presents King Arthur as he might actually have been.  It was fascinating to imagine what life might have really been like for the people in Britain during that period of history. 

The book begins in 450 AD when Arthur and Gwenhwyfar are on the cusp of adulthood.  Arthur does not yet know he is destined to be king, but he and Gwenhwyfar form a bond that cannot be broken.  Through the almost 600 pages of this book, the reader is immersed in the history of the land, the people, the politics, and the scandals and intrigue during Arthur's rise to power.  I enjoyed being transported to a different place and time as I read.

I found that even with all the rich details and history included, the story clipped along at a good pace. However, I should warn that this book is much more violent than what I am used to reading. In addition, those looking for the typical Camelot story might be a little disappointed. (Arthur is certainly more of a womanizing drunk than I would have liked.)  But I found Helen Hollick's more realistic approach to this beloved legend refreshing and eye-opening.

Many thanks to Paul Samuelson from Sourcebooks for the opportunity to review this book and participate in the tour.  Check out some other reviews and author interviews from this book blog tour:

Coming up tomorrow:


Chantele Sedgwick said...

King Arthur is so interesting to me. I'll have to read this one! Thanks for the awesome review! You always have great ones!:)

Tricia said...

I think that anyone who loves King Arthur should read this book to expand their point of view. And, thanks Chantele. You're making me blush!

Serena said...

I'm glad that you enjoyed the book. I am giving away 4 copies, one to an international winner and 3 to us/canada residents in case your readers are interested.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the write-up - I have very much enjoyed the Blog Tour.

I realise that some of the violent scenes are not to everyone's taste, but I write my novels as realistic as possible - and battle is a bloody, nasty business. I also deliberately made Arthur as I depicted him to move away from the more familiar chivalric king - I wanted him warts an' all! No man could have survived as a war lord in the fifth/sixth century if he was not that sort of man.

Thnk you again!

Anonymous said...

I liked Hollick’s depiction of Arthur: much more real-to-life than the traditional legend. I felt the author did a good job of blending history with myth, and creating an accurate picture of post-Roman Britain.

Arthur definitely had moments where you disliked him, among his other good qualities. Gwenhwyfar was the same way. There were times where I questioned her, but overall, she was more like-able than Arthur.

What did you think of the antagonist characters? Did you think they were well-rounded and complex? What did you think of Winifred? Did she have any redeeming qualities in your mind?

Also, now that I think about it, I would have liked to see Morgause as a more regularly character throughout the novel. What do you think? I thought she was an interesting, conflicting character.