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The Kingmaking (1994)

by Helen Hollick

Series: Pendragon's Banner (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3842654,789 (3.85)12
Who was THE MAN Who became THE LEGEND We know as KING ARTHUR? "You are the Pendragon, rightful Lord of Dumnonia and the Summer Land; Lord of less Britain. By all that is right, you ought be seated where Vortigern sits...You ought to be King." Here lies the truth of the Lord of the Summer Land. This is the tale of Arthur flesh and bone. Of the shaping of the man, both courageous and flawed, into the celebrated ruler who inspired armies, who captured Gwenhyfar's heart, and who emerged as the hero of the Dark Ages and the most enduring hero of all time. This is the unexpected story of the making of a king -- the legend who united all of Britain. Book One of the Pendragon's Banner Trilogy Includes bonus reading group guide PRAISE FOR THE KINGMAKING "If only all historical fiction could be this good." Historical Novels Review "Helen Hollick has it all. She tells a great story..." Bernard Cornwell "Hollick's interpretation is bold, affecting, and well worth fighting to defend." Publishers Weekly "Compelling, convincing, and --ultimately-unforgettable." Sharon Kay Penman, Bestselling Author of Devil's Blood… (more)
  1. 00
    Black Horses for the King by Anne McCaffrey (Caramellunacy)
    Caramellunacy: Historical novels addressing what the real Arthur might have been like. Hollick's novel is geared towards adults (and is the first in a series), and McCaffrey's is young adult - but a very engaging read.
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» See also 12 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
This is the first in the trilogy Pendragon’s Banner and, if this first instalment is anything to go by it is going to be a great read from beginning to end.

If you are looking for the normal run of the mill rendition of the main protagonist, one that is filled with brilliantly shining armour and evildoings by witches and wizards, then this telling of the Arthurian legend is not the one for you. With a skilful use of words this Author brings to life a living human being in the form of Arthur. He has flaws and faults like the rest of us, and is definitely a product of the Dark Ages he lived in; cruel times that needed, at times, a cruel hand to deal with them that the reader would not find in the books that perpetuate the myth of this man. Unlike the saintly personae given to Arthur in other books, this Arthur is a 100% red-blooded male, he does whatever is necessary to take what he feels is rightly is, pleasures himself with women as and when the urge drives him, lies and cheats. This may seem as if the Author has written him this way to try and dissuade the reader from liking him, but the overall effect is to make him so human the reader actually feels sympathy for him and cheers him on in his endeavours. We are able to walk beside him on his journey thankful that we did not have to live in these times. The penmanship show by the Author is not just reserved for the main character; she treats each of them with as much skill imbuing them with all the traits and qualities that make up our species. The Gwenhwyfar (Guinevere) character in this rendition is also totally different from those readers who may remember her from the Camelot movie as being played by Vanessa Redgrave; this Gwenhwyfar is a feisty, strong young woman who definitely knows her own mind; she is not content with skulking in the background weaving her ‘womanly’ plans to ensnare Arthur, she is a typical tom boy that loves the outdoors, adventure with hidden skills that only come to the forefront when needed. Despite all this, she too is given a fallible side, which when bundled up with everything else about her makes her another character in this book that is easily liked; she is all woman as opposed to being a lady.

The elimination of magic in a story that is always surrounded and soaked in it makes this book unique. Not a great deal is known about the time between the departure of the Romans from England and the arrival of the Normans in 1066, but it is apparent from reading this novel that the Author spent a great deal of time painstakingly research this era. It is through this research and the way in which the Author translated it into their novel that lifted a lot of obscurity of the period for me, and for this I am truly grateful. This book is a little slow to get underway, but these first few chapters set the scene perfectly for what is to come; once this book has gripped the reader though it will be hard for them to put aside without finishing it.

At 574 pages, for me this wasn’t a particularly meaty tome, but everyone one of those pages is filled with something that will keep even the most timid of readers when it comes to larger books captivated. I would highly recommend this book to readers who enjoy a good historical fiction novel and lovers of Sharon Kay Penman, also to those who want a read that will keep them turning the pages long after they should have turned out the light. I have the remaining two books in the trilogy all lined and ready to read, and I would suggest anyone that picks this up grabs the other two at the same time.


Originally reviewed on: http://catesbooknuthut.com/2014/04/10/review-the-kingmaking-pendragons-banner-1-...




This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
( )
  TheAcorn | Nov 8, 2019 |
I love Arthurian legend. It can get a bit silly, with the magic and mysticism. One of my favorite movies of all time is still "Excalibur", despite its over the top Merlin and the obvious historical error of knights wearing such gorgeous armor ( plate armor wasn't manufactured until sometime in the 13th or 14 century, the exact date I admit I cannot tell you).
This book by Helen Hollick is fabulous. She has written a historically accurate novel relating the rise of Arthur, the Pendragon. I should say it is accurate telling for the time period, since there really isn't much evidence Arthur existed.
In this book you will not find Merlin, or Nimue, or Lancelot. No cheating (at least in this book; there are two others to go in this trilogy)Guinevere or Round Table. Instead we have a portrayal of Arthur as a strong military leader, who can inspire men to follow him to the ends of the earth. A greedy and somewhat lazy King Vortigern, who has to turn to hiring mercenaries from his enemies' army to protect himself. Former allies turning against each other,and vicious battles with their Saex enemies.
And then there is Gwenhwyfar, my favorite character in the book. Gone is the pampered and delicate princess. In comes the tomboy that grew up with older brothers, who loved horses and trained in sword fighting with them. She can hack off a head with the best of the warriors. Big hearted and perhaps even more courageous and wise than Arthur. I spent several nights this past week, up WAY past my bedtime because I could not put this book down. It was Gwenhwyfar's fault! I could not wait to see what happened to her. I'm a sucker for a strong woman.
Read this one, please! ( )
  a1stitcher | Jun 22, 2019 |
Truly amazing book in a new edition!! Must-read for every fan of historical fiction, with deeply moving storylines and heroes who make you want to become a part of their world! My favourite author by the way ;) ( )
  Thenorthneverforgets | Jul 4, 2018 |
As the author states in the afterword, this book is culled from the various legends surrounding King Arthur and is written from her own view point of what is fact. So think of this as a novel about King Arthur which only vaguely resembles the king of myth. There is no Merlin, no sword in the stone, no magic that precedes his birth and definitely no knights, no chivalry and no questing. The bulk of the story focuses on Gwynviere and is a completely imagined story of her upbringing and how her and Arthur met and became king and queen. Again the author admits there are no real facts to support her theory so she felt free to create a new telling of the tale.
So if you enjoy stories of King Arthur with all the magic and myth involved, such as I do, then I would avoid this book.
If you like a good novel about any average tribal war chief in Britain at the time of the Saxons then they book will appeal to you. ( )
  LindaWeeks | May 14, 2018 |
3.5 stars ( )
  Andrew-theQM | Jun 20, 2016 |
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For Sharon Penman with my love and gratitude
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He was ten and five years of age and, for the first time in his life, experiencing the exhilaration of the open sea, for this short while, the novelty of leisure.
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Who was THE MAN Who became THE LEGEND We know as KING ARTHUR? "You are the Pendragon, rightful Lord of Dumnonia and the Summer Land; Lord of less Britain. By all that is right, you ought be seated where Vortigern sits...You ought to be King." Here lies the truth of the Lord of the Summer Land. This is the tale of Arthur flesh and bone. Of the shaping of the man, both courageous and flawed, into the celebrated ruler who inspired armies, who captured Gwenhyfar's heart, and who emerged as the hero of the Dark Ages and the most enduring hero of all time. This is the unexpected story of the making of a king -- the legend who united all of Britain. Book One of the Pendragon's Banner Trilogy Includes bonus reading group guide PRAISE FOR THE KINGMAKING "If only all historical fiction could be this good." Historical Novels Review "Helen Hollick has it all. She tells a great story..." Bernard Cornwell "Hollick's interpretation is bold, affecting, and well worth fighting to defend." Publishers Weekly "Compelling, convincing, and --ultimately-unforgettable." Sharon Kay Penman, Bestselling Author of Devil's Blood

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A re-telling of the legends of King Arthur as a series of historical novels.
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Helen Hollick is a LibraryThing Author, an author who lists their personal library on LibraryThing.

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