As we've mentioned before, A Reader's Respite normally doesn't much care for Arthurian literature. All those funky chicks popping out of lakes waving swords around, wizards zapping spells on people willy-nilly and running around looking for a holy drinking cup just doesn't do it for us.
All of that changed when we discovered Helen Hollick's The Pendragon's Banner Trilogy. Here we found an author who told the story of Arthur without all the fantasy-magic-mumbo-jumbo. Here was a woman who endeavored to write Arthur as a real historical figure and succeeded brilliantly.
This month, Sourcebooks is re-releasing the third and final installment of The Pendragon's Banner Trilogy, this one entitled Shadow of the King and we're pleased to report that this finale does complete justice to the previous two novels, The Kingmaking and Pendragon's Banner.
Grounded in a gritty realism, Hollick imagines Arthur as a ruthless King of Britain during the Dark Ages. He's got more faults than Microsoft's Windows XP, yet Hollick still manages to mold him into an endearing, masculine hero.
Now for all of you die-hard Arthurian fans out there, don't despair....there are still plenty of characters you will be familiar with. Gwenhwyfar is still Arthur's wife, for example, but don't expect a delicate flower because Hollick's Gwen kicks butt. Similarly, Morgause is still around and even Merlin makes an appearance in the earlier books.
And while keeping track of the various English, British and Saxon factions that populated England in the Dark Ages was challenging at times, the end result was one of the most satisfying reads A Reader's Respite has enjoyed in quite some time.
If you haven't given these books a try yet, we would heartily recommend them, whether you are an Arthurian fan or not. It's a transport back in time that will take your breath away.
FTC Disclosure....straight from the publicity department at Sourcebooks. Thank goodness, or we may have missed out on a rollicking good read!