King Arthur

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The Kingmaking

Published September 21, 2013 by myliteraryleanings

the kingmaking cover

Review of The Kingmaking by Helen Hollick

Overview from

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.

My Review:

The Kingmaking by Helen Hollick looked promising to me as I downloaded it, one of Barnes and Noble’s Free Friday offerings that I just couldn’t pass up. In the end though, it was a disappointment.

In fact, it disappointed me many time. I thought about turning off the book many times but then the characters would do some small thing that would make me think that maybe they will redeem themselves but in the end, they didn’t.

That is not to say that I disliked all the characters. In fact, I like the character of Gwenhyfar a lot. She was strong and brave and seemed to always try her best even though her feelings often confused her. Also, she seemed to learn from her mistakes.

Unlike another main character: Arthur. This story is based on the now famous character of King Arthur. In this story though, he is not yet king. He starts off as some tag-along boy who Uther keeps with him on his quests to regain his lands in England.

But the quest goes badly and Uther is killed battle. All seems lost until Gwenhwyfar’s father Cunedda reveals the secret of Arthur’s parentage—he is Uther’s son. It was kept secret from all but three or four people to keep him safe from Vortigern, his father’s mortal enemy.

Arthur seemed to start out as somewhat likeable. He was the silly misfit who was trying to make his way in the world; to make something of himself despite what thought were his humble origins.

Then he becomes a man and everything seems to change. He loves Gwenhyfar sure, but he doesn’t tell her and maybe that is for the best for it seems that there is one thing that he loves even more than her, much more than her: his crown. He admits throughout the story that he will do anything for and proves it with his actions.

First, he joins up with his father’s enemy Vortigern in an uneasy alliance but admits he will break it when it suits him. Then he marries Winifred, Vortigern’s half-Saex daughter to obtain her dowry and although he at first declares that she will be his wife in name only he impregnates her with a child.

He worries that she will have a boy and take him to her Saex family to use as a pawn against him. He takes her away to “Less Britain” so that she can’t use his son against him but she has a girl who dies shortly after the birth. All the while he tells anyone who listens that he doesn’t love his wife and wants to divorce her.

But then later in the book he gives into his wife and impregnates her again. He just doesn’t seem to learn his lesson. All throughout the story he is guided by his impulses—both sexual as well for war. They seem to be running the show, not him. This made him a less than sympathetic character for me. If it weren’t for Gwenhwyfar, I wouldn’t have kept reading. I kept wondering what she saw in him though. Her story was worth reading, her courage admirable though I think she could have done without him.

Contains: war violence, sexuality, some language


Le Morte D’Arthur- Part I

Published July 21, 2012 by myliteraryleanings

Review of Le Morte D’Arthur by Sir Thomas Mallory

Overview: The story of King Arthur and his reign. There are also many side adventures of his knights-errant.

My Review:

First off, the biggest disappointment in reading this book was when I got to the end of this book and read “End of Vol. I.” The whole time I was reading this thing I had no idea that this was only one part. It makes me wonder just how many “parts” there are. Any readers out there who know please enlighten me.

Going into this thing, I’ll admit I didn’t know much about this book at all. I remember that we read an excerpt of it in high school and I was always curious what was in the rest of the book. With that thought in mind, I download a free e-book version of this hoping to find out. It was one of those Google preserved books but nowhere in the download description did I see the words: “This is only Volume I.” If I had, I might not have bother with it.

Why? Because this “part” was 334 pages which at the time did seem light for a medieval epic adventure story but then again, I didn’t have a lot of experience reading these kinds of books so I thought I might have been wrong about that. It turns out that I wasn’t.

Anyway, those four words at the end of the book explain a lot of things that I didn’t understand before. The primary problem being that the book seems to talk more about King Arthur’s knights than King Arthur himself.

We do meet Merlin. We do hear the story of how Arthur pulled the Sword from the Stone and became the king of Camelot and later Great Britain at large. But after that we seem to digress into the stories of Arthur’s knights and those who opposed them, beginning with Sir Kay, Arthur’s foster brother.

The following is the Disney version of the sword pulling incident, which by the way, is fairly accurate if this book is to be believed.

Some of the knights I liked, others I didn’t. For one thing, we have a Sir Tristam mentioned who doesn’t seem particularly chivalrous to me though he does seem to be a favorite of nearly everyone. He escapes attempted poisoning by his stepmother only to have to deal with the hatred of his uncle, King Mark.

The most interesting thing about this entire book was learning more about medieval customs and speech. I got the gist of most of what was being said but sometimes I really had to focus to figure it out. Of course, it doesn’t help that some letters are missing or changed. Google warns the reader about this in the beginning but I wasn’t entirely sure which strange words were the results of missing or changed letters and which were Medieval English.

Then there is the obvious problem that the average medieval person seemed to have a different idea of what is chivalrous behavior. Even in the author’s judgment some knights were anything but chivalrous.

I am not entirely sorry I read this one but I can’t say that I will be rushing off to read Vol. II any time soon. This one took me longer than usual as it was. If I do decided to try it, not only will it be at a much later date, but I will first try to find out exactly how many parts there are and how many pages are in each part. I will post the review when I do read them as well.

To close, here is another version of the pulling of the Sword from the Stone, this time from the television show Merlin,  but not as close to the version in this book.

Contains: violence and some sexual situations.