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The Saxon Shore (1995)

by Jack Whyte

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Camulod Chronicles (4)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
8501019,600 (3.99)6
Merlyn Britannicus and Uther Pendragon---the Silver Bear and the Red Dragon---are the leaders of the Colony, lifeblood to the community from which will come the fabled Camulod. But soon their tranquility is in ruins, Uther lies dead from treachery, and all that is left of the dream is the orphaned babe Arthur. Heir to the Colony of Camulod, born with Roman heritage as well as the blood of the Hibernians and the Celts, Arthur is the living incarnation of the sacred dream of his ancestors: independent survival in Britain amidst the ruins of the Roman Empire. When Arthur is adopted by Merlyn Britannicus, an enormous responsibility is placed on Merlyn's shoulders. Now he must prepare young Arthur to unify the clans of Britain and guard the mighty sword Excalibur. And, above all, Merlyn must see that Arthur survives to achieve the rest of his ancestors' dreams, in spite of the deadly threats rumbling from the Saxon Shore. "Of the scores of novels based on Arthurian legend, Whyte's Camulod series is distinctive, particularly in the rendering of its leading players and the residual Roman influences that survived in Britain during the Dark Ages."--The Washington Post… (more)
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» See also 6 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
This book is too long. The major characters are moving at a funeral pace towards their functions in the Arthurian canon, and though there are some efforts made towards placing the work in the chronology of the period, we remain in a sea of technical anachronisms. Were this a more direct fantasy, Mr. Whyte would be freer to operate. Instead he has chosen to place his concerns inside the demanding world of Arthuriana. Well, in 750 pages, we move only five steps along the arc of the Mallory framework. There is not much "World building" to occupy the verbiage. Only three more books to go, and I hope at some point to discover a third subplot for the reader to be involved with. ( )
  DinadansFriend | Jun 30, 2021 |
reliving the legend of of Auther of the round table in Jack Whyte's wonderful story telling, makes it come alive to the reader. ( )
  donagiles | Nov 16, 2012 |
This is the fourth book in the "Camulod Chronicles" series. The first book, The Skystone I rated five stars, the second book, The Singing Sword four and a half, the third, The Eagles' Brood four stars. Notice a trend? Yeah, and this one gets three and a half stars. That first book earned the five stars because I was so impressed with Whyte's attempts to completely ground the legends of Merlin and King Arthur in a realist, historical way. For instance, in the first book, the sword of Excalibur is special both because the metal came from a meteor and because of techniques used in forging the sword. I've read other books that ground the legend more or less historically from Mary Stewart's The Crystal Cave to Marion Zimmer Bradley's The Mists of Avalon and Gillian Bradshaw's Hawk of May, all of which give more than a nod to the legend's probable historical kernel in sub-Roman Dark Ages Britain. But all three are fantasy, not historical fiction.

The last book and this one, which center on Merlin, do have elements of the supernatural, at least in term of prophetic dreams and use of "the Sight." I admit I found that disappointing, even though I love fantasy. But the realistic aspect of these books was a lot of what made this series special, so any step into the supernatural for me diminished that, especially since of all the authors mentioned above, I felt Whyte has the weakest prose style. You can't mistake this for literature certainly. This story doesn't have the strength in the writing and characterizations of a T.H. White or Mary Stewart.

One other thing bothered me in terms of the world created in the book. At one point Merlin acts to nip "factions" in the bud, absolutely forbidding them and freedom of association among the people involved. For "faction" think "political party." You can't have a republic or a democracy or anything but an autocracy without them, and I'm not sure if it's that Merlin doesn't understand that, or Jack Whyte doesn't, but it bugged me.

Another thing that I felt was off in this latest installment was pacing. Let's just say the pace defines leisurely. The three previous books each took in decades. While in the case of The Saxon Shore, over 600 pages of the 716 pages take place in the course of less than a year--during Arthur's infancy. The first time I tackled this book was years ago--and I didn't finish. I pushed past the point I lost interest this time, and I do intend to finish with my last book in the series I own, The Sorcerer, but no this didn't much impress me as much as the earlier books. ( )
1 vote LisaMaria_C | Jul 5, 2012 |
This is the fourth book in The Camulod Chronicles. As with the others, it is very detailed in its recreation of Britain in the decades following Rome's withdrawal. As Arthur is a young boy in this story, the names of certain characters are starting to become more familiar, while my brain searches for the characters I know from other versions of the Arthurian Legend.

I'm not sure the reason why, but I took far longer to read this than I had any of the previous installments. I had the renew the book more times than I can recall, and it was a struggle somehow. This may not be a comment on the book itself, so much as on me. I dunno. Anyway, I shall be eager to read the next book in line. ( )
1 vote Jessiqa | Nov 26, 2011 |
I think I read the previous books in the series too quickly, and I started to get bored. I can't really remember what's happening anymore, but will finish it eventually.Started the book January 14, 2008.---------------------------------------August 3, 2009Started reading the book again. James is reading the series as well, so I had better finish this book so I'm done when he gets to it.
  January_F | Apr 22, 2010 |
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» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jack Whyteprimary authorall editionscalculated
Pariseau, KevinNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Merlyn Britannicus and Uther Pendragon---the Silver Bear and the Red Dragon---are the leaders of the Colony, lifeblood to the community from which will come the fabled Camulod. But soon their tranquility is in ruins, Uther lies dead from treachery, and all that is left of the dream is the orphaned babe Arthur. Heir to the Colony of Camulod, born with Roman heritage as well as the blood of the Hibernians and the Celts, Arthur is the living incarnation of the sacred dream of his ancestors: independent survival in Britain amidst the ruins of the Roman Empire. When Arthur is adopted by Merlyn Britannicus, an enormous responsibility is placed on Merlyn's shoulders. Now he must prepare young Arthur to unify the clans of Britain and guard the mighty sword Excalibur. And, above all, Merlyn must see that Arthur survives to achieve the rest of his ancestors' dreams, in spite of the deadly threats rumbling from the Saxon Shore. "Of the scores of novels based on Arthurian legend, Whyte's Camulod series is distinctive, particularly in the rendering of its leading players and the residual Roman influences that survived in Britain during the Dark Ages."--The Washington Post

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