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Date Posted: 09:41:42 03/23/07 Fri
Author: Syl
Subject: The Pendragon Series

Three for the price of one this week, this excellent review was sent in by Kirsten. Thanks, Kirsten!




Title : The Pendragon Series:

‘The Kingmaking’
‘Pendragon’s Banner’
‘Shadow of the King’

Author : Helen Hollick


Genre : Historical Fiction


This trilogy is the story of The Pendragon; warrior, warlord, Supreme King – Arthur. This is not the Arthur of the Mallory tales with their courtly love and chivalry. Forget that, this Arthur can be cruel, ruthless, a killer with a violent temper, he is also pagan, promiscuous and a habitual liar. Despite these failings, he can be very appealing and likeable; he has a large degree of vulnerability and insecurity, stemming from a childhood in which he was unwanted, ill treated and unloved, as it was not known that he was the only son of Uther Pendragon, the king. His identity had been hidden for his own safety.

Arthur’s great redeeming feature throughout these books is his deep love for, and dependency on the beautiful Gwenhwyfar, his wife and the love of his life. In keeping with the times, she is no courtly lady, she was brought up to fight and to use weapons and she takes her place by Arthur’s side in some of the many battles against the invading Saxons, she too can be a ruthless killer when necessary. Arthur and Gwenhwyfar inspire great respect, devotion and love from his people and his elite fighting force, the Artoriani, although he does also have enemies who do not share his vision of how he thinks Britain ought to be.

The story begins in 450 AD, when Arthur is only 15, the Romans have left Britain and the country is in turmoil, these books are peopled by memorable characters, some truly vile and there is a lot of violence in the telling of Arthur’s story. There is also heroism, pathos, passion and heartbreak. I was totally swept along with the telling of the story and found it difficult to put the books down.

Helen Hollick freely admits in her Author’s notes that as so little is known for certain about the so called Dark Ages, she has been able to use her imagination more than is usual in fact based historical novels. She goes to great lengths to explain the reasons why she decided certain events happen as they do in her stories and why she developed characters in a particular way.

Historical characters are mingled with those from legend i.e. Uther Pendragon, Cerdic, Vortigern, Ambrosius Aurelius, Bedwyr, Cei, Medraut, and Morgaine but there is no Lancelot or Merlin. There is no magic in the books, unless you count the effect on the reader, and as Lancelot was a later addition to the Arthurian legends, he has no place in the telling of Arthur’s life as it may have been.

I have read many books about King Arthur, both fiction and non fiction, and in my opinion, this is the most realistic of them all. We will probably never know for sure a great deal about him but in my opinion Helen Hollick has shown us how the life and times of King Arthur could have been and has created a truly memorable character.

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Replies:

[> I've had these on my list for a while now, and your review makes me want to read them more! Thanks. -- Marg, 16:24:40 03/23/07 Fri

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[> It sounds like a great series for history buffs. I've never read anything about King Arthur - but this sounds intriguing! Thanks, Kirsten! Great review. -- Judie, 08:48:01 03/24/07 Sat

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[> Wow Kirsten, great review. I have been wanting to read some Helen Hollick ever since SKP said she was a friend and respected author, but I haven't gotten to them yet, I've read a few Arthurian novels, so I will look forward to reading these and seeing where they go. Sounds a whole lot different to Mary Stewart! -- Margy, 14:02:56 03/24/07 Sat

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[> If you ever get the chance to go to Glastonbury Abbey, King Arthur and Queen Guinevere are buried there in the middle of the grass inside the ruins. Its an amazing place altogether. -- Lolkate, 16:57:05 04/22/07 Sun

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[> I love any books about Arthur and just read the The Warlord Chronicles by Bernard Cornwell and his was a very different take also. I can't wait to read the ones by Helen Hollick. -- Lynda J, 19:59:05 12/11/08 Thu

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[> I can't wait to read these books. I love anything about Arthur Just read The Warlord Chronicles by Bernard Cornwell....and they were very different than other books I've read about Arthur. -- Lynda J, 20:03:56 12/11/08 Thu

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[> I just found out about this series a few months ago. They are some of the best I've read...and believe me I have been reading books on the subject for years...and I've added these to my favorites. I am always looking for others too. -- Lynda J, 16:32:49 04/05/09 Sun

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[> Loved loved loved these books. Great twist on a great story..or is it true?? -- Lynda J, 22:46:27 10/03/10 Sun

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