I've long been fascinated with King Arthur and am excited to be part of the Book Blog Tour of Pendragon's Banner: Book Two of the Pendragon's Banner Prophesy by Hellen Hollick. As the author points out in the notes to her book: "the why, when, how, and where of Arthur himself is individual. I am not expecting anyone necessarily to agree with my telling, but then, this is only an imaginative story. A new retelling of an old, familiar tale." The blurb:
"Morgause had set these dark thoughts of foreboding, she was with her high laugh and gloating eyes, Morgause who delighted in nurturing the belief of witchcraft. If you come after me, Pendragon, none of your sons shall live..."
Three years have passed since the mist cleared to reveal the Pendragon Banner triumphant. Arthur is king. But the crown, once won, must be defended.
He is a man about whom legends will be told. With his loyal and fiercely valiant wife Gwenhwyfar by his side, and three sons to his name, twenty-four-year-old King Arthur takes on the burdern of the country battling for its very soul.
But before the harpers sing of glory, before the tales of brave daring and skill, a young man must win his place as the greatest warrior of all Britain...and the greatest king of all time.
I thoroughly enjoyed Helen Hollick's retelling of this early part of King Arthur's life. Unlike the medieval Arthur who seemed focused on the crusades and the older King who would hold festivals and jousts, the Arthur that we meet in Pendragon's Banner is a young king occupied with winning battles - much of the book is devoted to wresting control of his territory and keeping the land from invaders. Hollick's Arthur is deep into the work of creating his kingdom. He does not yet have his own castle, his Camelot and his round table is just a glimmer of a thought. He must still go through a great deal before establishing himself as the King Arthur of legend, but we can see from the man that he is in Pendragon's Banner the king that he will become.
It is easy to care for Arthur, his loyal and skilled Artoriani and his loyal wife Gwenhywyfar. When they face the cunning and treachery of Arthur's longtime enemy Morgause, it make for a gripping tale and a satisfying read.
Hollick weaves in bits of the Arthurian legend, details of the man that hint at his life and legend as king. Plus, Hollick's fight scenes are gripping and well done - and as enjoyable as those found in a good Bernard Cornwell tale.
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark (September 2009), 496 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.
Thank you so much to Paul and Sourcebooks for this review opportunity!