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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Kingmaking by Helen Hollick

Genre: Historical

Copyright: 2009 Sourcebooks (first published 1994)

Pages: 592
Book Rating: Rating 4 Crowns

Book Description: A novel of Arthur as he really was.
In the first book of this exciting trilogy, author Helen Hollick brings to life Arthur Pendragon as he really might have been. Leaving behind the fairy-tale element of Merlin's magic and the improbable existence of Lancelot, Hollick instead transports the reader to the early years of Britain circa 455 AD and tells the Arthurian legend in a solid and believable way.

For one, Arthur does not pull a sword from a stone using superhuman strength; rather, he is named heir to Britain (if he can win it from the tyrant Vortigern) while standing near a "hallowed stone, the symbol of a warrior's strength and the chieftain's right of leadership." Later, a sword won in battle signals his place as Britain's King.

This is a story of harsh battles, secret treasonous plots, and the life-threatening politics of the dark ages of early Britain. Intertwined through it all is the often-tested love of Arthur and Gwenhwyfar (Guinevere in Welsh - her name as it really would have been) as they struggle to survive and conquer to see Pendragon become King.


Review: Helen Hollick is a master with words; she completely draws a scene using only letters and punctuation that can stun a mind completely. She turned King Arthur into a human being with hopes, dreams, feelings. She gave him the same trials and tribulations any other man in the Dark Ages would have faced and she did it with amazing fan fare.

The characters in this book are so real the reader can practically reach out and touch each and everyone of them. The reader feels each and every emotion the characters progress through as well as everything they don't show; the reader is situated in the characters' minds and can see everything. Arthur and Gwenhwyfar are perfectly portrayed and expertly crafted in true Arthurian Legend style.

The plot starts a bit slow and then warms up as the book moves forward. Towards the middle of the book is where the plot starts to thicken and gets even better then, before long you won't be able to tear yourself away from the pages. Everything about this book is amazing, and the best part is, this is only the first of three.

Countess of Shadows
Visit Monica at her blog The Bibliophilic Book Blog

14 comments:

dolleygurl said...

Oh it sounds great. I haven't read any Arthur books, tho I have one on my shelf - looking forward to it.

lilly said...

"She turned King Arthur into a human being with hopes, dreams, feelings. She gave him the same trials and tribulations any other man in the Dark Ages would have faced and she did it with amazing fan fare."

I agree wholeheartedly and also think that this is primarily the reason I liked this novel so much. Not that I normally mind magic and fantasy but it was a nice change to read a pure historical fiction book about King Arthur.

Blodeuedd said...

Wow, talk about a different reaction than mine. But then I am so the only one with view.
I am very glad you enjoyed it :D

Amy @ Passages to the Past said...

Ooooh, how I loved this book and the second one in the series is just as good. I am reading the third and final book soon and can't wait! Didn't you miss Arthur and Gwen when you finished? I sure did!

One thing I really like is that Helen keeps Arthur and Gwen together and doesn't bring in Lancelot. I like her version better!

Robinbird said...

I have the second book in this trilogy but I'm waiting to read it until I get my hands on this one. :)

T said...

Oooh, I love Arthur stories. Adding this one to my TBR list!

Muse in the Fog said...

I really want to read this series! I always find the second one but not the first...guess I need to order it. Thanks for the great review :)

Lady Quinlan said...

I discovered this book last month and could not put it down. loved it. She's a talented writer. It stayed with me for a long time. Just got the second book and plan to devour it this weekend!

misskallie2000 said...

Loved your reveiw. I love to read about Arthur & Gwen and that period in history. Sounds like Helen did a terrific story around the old Arthur and Gwen and I would love to read. Guess I will have to add to my buy list..Unless I can win it..LOL Thanks again for the great review.

Annie - Princess of the Past said...

This was an excellent review - I have been dying to read this book since I read Deanna's review last year but I can't seem to find it anywhere! Like some of the other commentors, I have book two but no book one :-(

Ladybug said...

Great review! I think this book has to go on my wishlist :)

Jennifer said...

This sounds like a great historical read. Great review!

Jennifer @ Mrs. Q:Book Addict
http://web.me.com/quirion

Monica said...

Thanks for the comments everyone! I did love this book. I have the next two to read already...just haven't had time to dive into them yet.

Blodeudd: No prob, that's why are human, we can totally disagree.

Amy: yes, I do miss them, can't wait to read the next ones.

Teddyree said...

Thanks for the wonderful review. I've read quite a few takes of Arthurian tales but nothing quite like this. Definitely one for the wishlist :-)