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The Winter King by Bernard Cornwell
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The Winter King (1995)

by Bernard Cornwell, Bernard Cornwell

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Warlord Chronicles (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
2,504742,423 (4.07)1 / 165
  1. 10
    The Last Kingdom by Bernard Cornwell (Donogh)
    Donogh: As you rooted for the British against the Saxons in Cornwell's 'The Winter King', so shall you root for the Saxons agains the Danes in Cornwell's 'The Last Kingdom'
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English (63)  French (3)  Spanish (2)  Dutch (2)  Portuguese (1)  German (1)  Italian (1)  All (73)
Showing 1-5 of 63 (next | show all)
This was the first Arthurian novel I ever read. I really enjoyed it. I felt it was well written and there were interesting characters. I also thought the battle scenes were described well and I was able to easily understand what was going on. There was also some language, so if you take offense to that then this is not your book. On the whole I really like this book and I am excited to continue on with the series. ( )
  RickyHaas | Mar 22, 2017 |
This telling of the Arthurian legend paints a different view of the characters from what we have come to expect. Arthur although charming has insecurities and vulnerabilities; Lancelot is vain and shallow while his brother Galahad is loyal and true to Arthur. The telling of the story is through Derfel Cadarn, a warrior and later christian, who fought beside Arthur and was his friend. Merlin, the most famous Druid in all of Briton, is fleetingly present throughout the story but lends his authority and presence when Arthur needs it the most. ( )
  Cal_Clapp | Sep 5, 2016 |
Really great re-imagining of the story of Arthur, leavened with plenty of tragedy. Very convincingly read. ( )
  Matt_B | Jul 29, 2016 |
This is a really good retelling of the Arthurian legend, and Cornwell has a different take on the characters, which keeps this from being just another Arthur tale. He does get a bit caught in the historical fiction writing trap, where there is too much history in the fiction. There is an overload of names of people and places and historical details that aren't really relevant to the story, and slows down the action a bit. ( )
  Darth-Heather | May 31, 2016 |
Everyone knows of King Arthur and his knights of the round table. All know the famous stories of brave and gorgeous Lancelot, powerful Gawain and all those other knights. And all know the Druid Merlin.
However a different story is told here. Here is the story of how Arthur, the bastard of the High King Uther and Igraine, a man without land and with only a reputation to protect, becomes a man of legend.

"Once upon a time, in a land that was called Britain, these things happened. These are the tales of Arthur, the Warlord, the King that Never Was, the Enemy of God and, may the living Christ and Bishop Sansum forgive me, the best man I ever knew."

This story is written down by, at that time, an old monk called Derfel. He was asked by his queen Igraine to write down the real story of King Arthur.
When you read this story you will be brought back to a time most of you will know of the Dark Ages. Not much is known about these years in history except what survived on parchment, words written down by monks.
Derfel will tell his own story, how he came to know Merlin and Nimue and later on met Arthur himself.

The Winter King is the first book of the Warlord Chronicles. When I first read this series I was about 11 years old and back then I already thought this was the most epic story I ever read.
Now, some 9 years later, I am still in love with this book.
Bernard Cornwell did an amazing job and I grovel before his awesomeness.

When last year I tried to become a history teacher, I failed miserably, I learned a thing or two about these Dark Ages. Indeed there is not much know about this period and the things we do know are mostly religious. I confess that I've never read any Author's note in my life, but I did this time.
He did a lot of research to write this book with an amazing result. He brought life to a period few people can imagine and he did great. He describes the land itself, the people and the history beautifully. For example:

Ynys Wydryn, despite its name, which means the Isle of Glass, was not a true island, but rather a promontory of high ground that jutted into a waste of sea-marsh, creeks and willow-edged bogs where sedge and reeds grew thick. It was a rich place, made so by wildfowl, fish, clay and the limestone that could easily be quarried from the hills edging the tidal wastes that were crossed by wooden trackways on which unwary visitors were sometimes drowned when the wind came hard from the west and blew a high tide fast across the long, green wetland.

He made the characters alive and used a lot of humor! Here an example the king being a fan of old writings and having this incredible library while a monk hates everything the king thinks is lovely.

"I make all the Fili study Horace's maxims. " the king told me.
"Which is why they're all such execrable poets, "the priest put in.

"Oh Turtullian!" the king slid the scroll from its box and blew dust from the parchment. "A copy of his Apologeticus!"
"All rubbish" Celwin said. "Waste of precious ink."

Though Derfel tells the story, you'll find it easy to connect to the other characters in this book. Some you'll hate, uhum a certain priest, some you'll love, Nimue, and some you'll want to kill yourself, tiny spoiler; Lancelot.
You'll follow Derfel himself, though he will not bore you with endless details about how he's feeling or anything, through his 'childhood' to how he kills his first enemy and eventually becomes a oath-bound warrior to Arthur himself.
For the first time in a very long time I find myself without any words to describe this book. This is just a perfect example of a great writer and I think I'll never have enough words to make you love this book. You simply have to read it for yourself.

So because I love this book, and because it's one of my all time favorites, I'll give this five stars! BAM! ( )
  Mybookfile | Mar 15, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 63 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (9 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Cornwell, Bernardprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Cornwell, Bernardmain authorall editionsconfirmed
Alsberg, RebeccaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Calado, Ivanir AlvesTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cardeñoso, ConchaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Case, DavidNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
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The Winter King is for Judy, with love
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Once upon a time, in a land that was called Britain, these things happened.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0312156960, Paperback)

Essentially this is a modern political thriller, told in flat American diction. Narrated by Derfel, an ordinary, likable man who rises through the ranks to become Arthur's friend and advisor in peace and war, the story doesn't follow the traditional patterns. Mordred is Uther's infant grandson, the legitimate king; Arthur is one of Mordred's guardians, sworn to hold the kingdom against the Saxon warlords until Mordred comes of age. Warfare is incessant. Arthur's dream of peace and unity seems unattainable. Derfel's own story--his strange origin, his love for Nimue, his worries and his triumphs--parallels Arthur's as he fights for and beside him.

Bernard Cornwell downplays the magic that enlivens the traditional stories, depicting it more as a combination of superstition and shrewd wits. I recommend this with reservations; though it's absorbing to read, the emphasis on battles and politics means that this will greatly appeal to some fantasy readers, but disappoint others.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:58:11 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Set in Britain's Dark Ages, this story of Arthur journeys beyond the usual tales of chivalry and romance to introduce Arthur as a man of honor, loyalty, amazing valor, and a man who loves Guinevere more passionately than ever before. It takes a remarkable writer to make an old story as fresh and compelling as the first time we heard it. With The Winter King, the first volume of his magnificent Warlord Chronicles, Bernard Cornwell finally turns to the story he was born to write: the mythic saga of King Arthur. The tale begins in Dark Age Britain, a land where Arthur has been banished and Merlin has disappeared, where a child-king sits unprotected on the throne, where religion vies with magic for the souls of the people. It is to this desperate land that Arthur returns, a man at once utterly human and truly heroic: a man of honor, loyalty, and amazing valor; a man who loves Guinevere more passionately than he should; a man whose life is at once tragic and triumphant. As Arthur fights to keep a flicker of civilization alive in a barbaric world, Bernard Cornwell makes a familiar tale into a legend all over again.… (more)

» see all 6 descriptions

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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