Thursday, February 26, 2009

Early Review: The Kingmaking

The Kingmaking, the first book in Helen Hollick's The Pendragon's Banner Trilogy, is one author's vision of the life of young Arthur Pendragon and his rise to power as King of the future British Isles. As is told in the title of this novel, this book covers the period from AD 450 to 457, when Arthur rises from being a young man of fifteen to his victory over the Saxon warlord Hengest to become a young king.

As you may know, there is much debate as to whether Arthur was a real man or simply one of legend. Tales of this great warrior king are part of Celtic mythology but there is little to no historical documentation of his existence or his story due to the fact that his rule was supposed to have happened during Britain's "Dark Ages". Therefore, Hollick was free to create a trilogy based on the various legends and suppositions that exist today. What she imagined was a man as passionate as he was intelligent. Although I liked her presentation of Arthur, the character that I really enjoyed was Gwenhwyfar. Though her true history is not known, Hollick made her into a strong horsewoman, a trained warrior and a loyal friend and lover.

The writing in these books is engaging and occasionally funny. I am really looking forward to the remaining two volumes of the story. Conflicts have been set up that have yet to be resolved and some relationships have only just begun.

This book will be released on March 1 by Sourcebooks Landmark.

Wondering if you can ever distinguish history from myth,

Buy The Kingmaking: Book One of the Pendragon's Banner Trilogy on Amazon or find it at your local library.

Read other guest posts, interviews and reviews of The Kingmaking at the following sites:

On 20 Feb: Harriet Devine's Blog
On 20 Feb: Lazy Habits of Thinking (interview on 27 Feb)
On 23 Feb: Carpe Libris Reviews
Musings of a Bibliophile
Reading Extravaganza (guest blog on 25 Feb)
On 24 Feb: Medieval Bookworm
On 25 Feb: Books are my only friends
On 26 Feb: Peeking Between the Pages (guest blog on 27 Feb)
A Hoyden's Look at Literature
On 01 Mar: Books Ahoy!
S. Krishna's Books
Jennifer's Random Musings
On 02 Mar: Passages to the Past
The Tome Traveller's Weblog
Savvy Verse & Wit (interview on 03 Mar)
On 03 Mar: Carla Nayland
A Reader's Respite (interview on 05 Mar)
On 04 Mar: Library Queue
the bookworm
On 05 Mar: My Friend Amy
Sam's Book Blog
Good Books, Bright Side


  1. I liked Hollick’s depiction of Arthur: much more real-to-life than the traditional legend. I felt the author did a good job of blending history with myth, and creating an accurate picture of post-Roman Britain.

    Arthur definitely had moments where you disliked him, among his other good qualities. Gwenhwyfar was the same way. There were times where I questioned her, but overall, she was more like-able than Arthur.

    What did you think of the antagonist characters? Did you think they were well-rounded and complex? What did you think of Winifred? Did she have any redeeming qualities in your mind?

    Also, now that I think about it, I would have liked to see Morgause as a more regularly character throughout the novel. What do you think? I thought she was an interesting, conflicting character.

    Steven Till

  2. I definitely thought the antagonists were pretty flat characters but it was also a relatively short book to cover the amount of story that it could have included. I don't know that there was a choice other than to show them only in their roles related to Arthur and Gwenhwyfar.

    I think that it would be interesting to have a book written entirely from Morgause's point of view. Does that exist?