The Winter King by Bernard Cornwell

Published: April 15, 1997

This book is definitely different from the regular novel reviews that y’all are used to getting from me. But I wanted something different because sometimes you just need to cleanse your palate. This is my first novel by Bernard Cornwell (the author of the book the Netflix show ‘The Kingdom’ is based off of) but I’ve been meaning to read him for years. One of my friends recommended him to me and though his novels always sounded interesting I just never got around to them until this one. I listened to the audiobook of this so the spelling of the names in this review might not be correct. Please forgive that.

This is a novel about the legend of King Arthur. It is the first book in a trilogy about the king who has countless stories written about him. Only this novel doesn’t tackle King Arthur in the fantastical/paranormal light that many think of while discussing if he ever existed. It takes elements of real things that would have existed or happened when he would have been alive and created explanations for it. Some of these were the Saxon invaders to Briton and the druids versus the Christians. The story is told by the monk Durvall who was a soldier under King Arthur. He wants to tell the current Queen of Briton the story of King Arthur because she has requested it but she also wants the story as she had heard it previously. Durvall wants to tell his queen what she wants to hear and what really happened. Durvall tells the story of as he knows it now that he is at the end of his life.

This novel was really good and was an awesome retelling of the classic King Arthur tale. As the first novel of this Warrior trilogy it ends quite abruptly but leaves room for the continuation of the legend. This novel is intriguing and bloody in all the ways that one would expect from a retelling of the tale of King Arthur. I am looking forward to continuing the trilogy and discovering how Durvall ended up in the monastery of a man he hated. And how he is the one who out lived them all. 

—“Life is a jest of the Gods and there is no justice. You must learn to laugh or else you’ll just weep yourself to death.” -Merlin—

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