Once Again, A Reader's Respite Has Been Kidnapped...

Every once in a while, a real author (by which we mean someone with actual writing talent) comes along, locks A Reader's Respite in the closet for the day and brings you a real blog post.

Today, it is Helen Hollick, author of the superb series, The Pendragon's Banner Trilogy (you can read a review of the first book of the series, The Kingmaking, here).

The traditional Arthurian stories have never appealed to me. Maybe this is because they are Medieval Norman stories and I am very pro Saxon - see my novel Harold the King about the Battle of Hastings from the English point of view for the proof of that!

For me, British history stopped at 1066. Also, I could never believe in them. Arthur, if he had existed, would have lived in the fifth and sixth Centuries between the going of the Romans and the coming of the Anglo Saxons, when government and administration had collapsed and the seizing of overall power was up for grabs.

There were no knights in armour, turreted castles, chivalric deeds or round tables in these Dark Ages. Lancelot. Merlin, and the Holy Grail were all part of the invented fairy tale which was used as propaganda to promote the rising domination of the Church, and to persuade young men to go on Crusade.

The Medieval stories disappointed me. They were not real. They were not what might have happened.

Mary Stewart’s novel the Crystal Cave and the Hollow Hills put me on the right track as they contained an author’s note about the possibilities of the history behind the real Arthur. I started researching and discovered the early Welsh legends of Arthur – which turned out to be far more interesting and exciting!

This Arthur was a war lord who had to fight hard for his Kingdom – and even harder to keep it. He was not a chivalric King – in fact he was the opposite, a pagan who stole cattle from a monastery, who kicks a woman; a Romano British nobleman who lived and fought for what he considered his by right.

These early tales also tell of his three sons – and Gwenhwyfar as his loyal wife. I despised the Guinevere of those Norman stories. Where was her honour? Her loyalty – and what on earth had Lancelot got that Arthur had not? Could the silly woman not see that Arthur was by far the better man?

So I set out to write the story of what might have really happened. There is no magic, no supernatural. No Lancelot, no Merlin, no Holy Grail. Instead, Arthur is a rough, tough, soldier. He does not cut corners, he believes in what he is doing – and he loves Gwenhwyfar from the first moment he saw her when she was still a lanky, leggy girl.

He is a rogue and a man who likes his women and his drink – but he is also loyal to his men and his Country and he would die for the woman he loves – even though their relationship is often extremely turbulent. With two such hot tempered, passionate people, what else would you expect?

My story of Arthur is about what were, possibly, real events – and are about people who laughed and cried, hated and loved just as we do.

When you have the excitement, passion and intrigue of all that – who needs Norman fairy tales?

Helen Hollick


  1. Excellent guest post!

    (As long as Michele has a book and a flashlight, she should be okay in the closet!)

  2. Love the guest post! Isn't Helen the best?!

    I thought the same thing after reading The Kingmaking...there's no way that some Lancelot comes around and steals her from Arthur...they seemed too in love and perfect together!

  3. Awesome guest post/ Really, wants me to get the book right away :)

    Thanks Helen and thanks Michelle.

    Have a good day, both of you

  4. Can't wait to start the series. Loved the Mary Stewart books but these sound more "believable". Thank you.

  5. Great post! I love the Arthur legend -- magical, realistic, historic!

  6. What a great guest post...I definitely plan on reading this book in the near future. Michele-I wanted to let you know that I gave you an award.

  7. Great guest post! I really want to read this book!

  8. Well, as much as I love A Reader's Respite and want her kidnapper to return her safe and sound, I truly enjoyed this guest post! My father -- who is in love with all kinds of retellings of the Arthur legend -- would LOVE this book and reading this post! I will forward it to him , and I suspect I know what to buy him for his birthday!

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Fire away!