The Winter King by Bernard Cornwell “Roving Review” Part 1

winter king

This will be one of  many reviews as I read my way through the first of the Warlord Chronicles.  I will call this type of review my “Roving Review”. I promise not to reveal anything that might spoil your own reading experience. If you like this, let me know by sending me a comment.

The novel supplies an extensive list of characters that you will meet as you read through this novel. If you are like me, you will refer to this list often as you map out who is who and their relation to each other. Additionally,  Cornwall provides a list of places his story moves through and a detailed map of “The Kingdoms of Britain” circa 490 AD. This, too, is a useful tool for readers and reminds me very much of the lists and maps Tolkien provided for his fantasy series, The Fellowship of the Ring. I love these little extras and appreciate the time and effort it takes to create and provide them. Thank you Cornwell.

The story told by the one-handed Derfel, who though born a Saxon, became a ward of Merlin  (yes, Merlin the Wizard from King Arthur’s court…but we are not in King Arthur’s court…yet!) Derfel begins by saying, “These are the tales of the land we call Lloegryr, which means the Lost Lands, the country that was once ours but which our enemies now call England” (3).  I was immediately struck by this sentence and it propelled me forward into the tale Derfel is writing for us, the “account of Arthur, Enemy of God” (4). I want to know who the people of  Lost Lands are, how legendary Arthur is an enemy of God and why and how England became England.

The tale, Derfel, explains begins in the last year of High King Uther’s reign, the pendragon of Britain and a believer in old magic, in the year 420. King Uther is an old, sickly king whose only son is cut down by a Saxon, leaving the kingdom without an heir. A kingdom without an heir, Derfel explains, is a cursed kingdom. However, the king’s daughter -in-law, Norwenna, gives birth to a grandson and an heir.  No, the child was not Arthur. The child’s is named Mordred, named after his deceased father, and he is a cripple with a twisted foot.

“A crippled prince was the worst omen…(12),” Derfel tells us.

That’s all for now…and all I can tell you without giving it all away. If your interest is piqued,  I suggest you visit your local bookstore and buy the book. Second, tell me what you think of my “Roving Review” Part 1 of The Winter King. 


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