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Book Review: The Winter King

The Winter King takes a (mostly) historical take on the King Arthur legend, interpreting him as a Dark Ages warlord that struggles to bring peace to Britain in time where invasions threaten from all sides.

This was the first Cornwell book I’ve read and I’ll definitely read more.

The prose has an almost dreamlike quality, where the narrator is telling the story many years after the fact, relating his memories of Arthur. In this vein, he’s telling the tale after Arthur’s dead and the whole land has fallen to tragedy, and indeed, after he himself has converted to Christianity and become a monk.

The sense of hope in the past is ever tinged by a palpable fear that the world is crumbling, and we, as the readers are privy to this as a certainty because of the structure. The old British world did give way to a Saxon one, the old faith to Christianity.

As I said, it’s dreamlike, with so many historical details it feels like actually living in these ancient times. The author does intentionally change some aspects and introduce anachronisms in order to weave a better tale and allow for the inclusion of later additions to the mythos like Lancelot and so forth.

It’s historical fiction that teeters on the edge of being historical fantasy, where the reader can decide for themselves whether Merlin actually wields magic or just a profound psychological power over others.

Definitely worth a read, in my opinion.

Check it out.

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