The first in Bernard Cornwell's Warlord Chronicles trilogy is a fictional depiction of early Saxon Britain retrospectively told through the eyes of one of Arthur's warriors. Cornwell turns his back on the typically romanticised version of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table and portrays Arthur as the more historically accurate military leader. This is a refreshing change and allows Cornwell to ground the story in realism rather than magical fairy tales of ladies in lakes and wizards. However, Cornwell does allow himself the artistic license to introduce characters such as Merlin (a druid rather than wizard), Lancelot (a crown prince from Brittany) and Guinevere into the action.
The story tells of Arthur's return from exile in France to act as protector to the infant king of Dummonia and his attempts to unite the warring kingdoms of southern Britain and Wales against the growing Saxon threat.
Cornwell delivers the story in sufficient detail and depth to give the reader plenty to go on. Often historical authors can fall into the trap of either glossing over or dedicating too much time and detail to battle scenes but Cornwell seems to find the middle ground well in describing the book's final scenes.
An enjoyable read for any fan of fictionalised history.