Sunday, March 1, 2009

Review and Blog Tour: The Kingmaking

I am happy to be a part of the blog tour for The Kingmaking set up by Paul Samuelson with Sourcebooks . To read the reviews of other participants please see the bottom of this post.

Author: Helen Hollick
Rating: 4.5/5
Grade: D - 18 and up (graphic violence and sex, mature themes)

The Kingmaking is the first book in the Pendragon's Banner Trilogy, written by Helen Hollick. The book purports to show the Arthur of reality instead of legend. The mythical elements--such as Merlin and magic--are taken away from the story, as are the well known legends of Arthur many of us have become familiar with. Instead the author has spent ten years delving into the history of Wales, and archaeological discoveries, to come up with as historically accurate a novel of the times as is possible with the limited information available. The research put into the writing of this book is very evident, and I felt myself transported to a time long, long ago. A time of violence, war, and chaos.

The book opens in 450 A.D., not long after the Romans have left Britain to its own defenses. The Saex (Saxons) are beginning to make their way into the country, and there is not a united kingdom. Uthr, who is viewed--by himself and his people, at least--as the rightful king of the British, has been banished to the isles. After years away he has finally decided it is time for him to fight the present King, Vortigern, and win back his kingdom. He comes to seek the aid of Cunneda, King of Gwyneth. Together the face Vortigern, but are defeated, and Uthr is killed in the battle.

At this time the boy, Arthur, known as the bastard child of one of Uthr's servants, is revealed to be the actual son of Uthr and his wife. His identity hidden in order to protect him from Vortigern. And so begins the long and political battle of Arthur to work every possible advantage, to do whatever it takes, including joining the army of the hated Vortigern, in order to eventually gain what rightfully belongs to him. Arthur is painted as a very strong, passionate, charismatic, and easily angered man. A man of his time. This passion goes beyond battle to drink and women. A much different picture than the sainted Arthur of legend, but probably more closely in line with history.

And what of Guinevere? Yes, she is there, in her Welsh name of Gwenhwyfar. The daughter of the Pendragon's ally, Cunneda. A strong, daring and passionate girl and woman. Full of fire and defiance, she is not about to take the roll of women and let her life be decided by others. Early on she pledges herself and her love to Arthur, and she holds on to this promise and love through much adversity and many setbacks.

Overall, a very well written and researched book. Of course a 500+ page novel written at a time with few historical records has to be largely speculation, but Hollick's view of the story is very entrancing, and feels very realistic (At times, for me personally, a bit too realistic, as some very horrible war related atrocities were related). This book was both educational and entertaining.

Visit the author at her website:

Blog tour participants: 2/20 2/21 and interview 2/27 2/23 2/23 2/23 2/23 and guest blog 2/25 2/24 2/25 2/26 and guest blog 2/27 2/26 2/26 3/1 3/1 3/1 3/1 3/2 3/2 3/2 3/2 and interview 3/3 3/3 and interview on 3/5 3/4 3/4 3/5 3/5 3/5


Teddy Rose March 1, 2009 at 4:55 PM  

I also enjyed this book! My part of the tour will be on March 6th. There will be an interview with Hollick and a giveaway.

Darlene March 1, 2009 at 9:17 PM  

Great review Lisa. I really enjoyed this book too. It's quite the chunkster but well worth the time.

Literary Feline March 3, 2009 at 10:20 PM  

I've come across mixed reviews of this one, but I'm definitely curious. It sounds really interesting. Great review, Lisa.

Anonymous,  March 4, 2009 at 12:47 PM  

thank you for your kind review - and for inviting me onto your blog.


Anonymous,  March 16, 2009 at 8:56 AM  

I liked Hollick’s depiction of Arthur: much more real-to-life than the traditional legend. I felt the author did a good job of blending history with myth, and creating an accurate picture of post-Roman Britain.

Arthur definitely had moments where you disliked him, among his other good qualities. Gwenhwyfar was the same way. There were times where I questioned her, but overall, she was more like-able than Arthur.

What did you think of the antagonist characters? Did you think they were well-rounded and complex? What did you think of Winifred? Did she have any redeeming qualities in your mind?

Also, now that I think about it, I would have liked to see Morgause as a more regularly character throughout the novel. What do you think? I thought she was an interesting, conflicting character.

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