Wednesday, 18 July 2012

BOOK: Excalibur: A Novel of Arthur, Bernard Cornwell (6/10)

The final book of Bernard Cornwell's Arthurian trilogy finds Arthur still battling the invading Saxon armies, while struggling to keep the peace within the kingdoms of Wales and the South West of Britain.

As with each of the previous books, the story is a combination of epic battles and shield walls, mixed with the magic of Merlin and the contrasting religions of Paganism and Christianity. However, the description of the epic siege at Mynydd Baddon does feel repetitive coming off the back of the similarly epic battles at Lugg Vale in The Winter King and Thames Valley in The Enemy of God. That said, Cornwell manages keep to the rest of the story interesting enough until it's end when the reader is at last rewarded with discovering how the main protagonist and storyteller Derfel ends up a Christian monk. Across all three books I enjoyed the story in between the battles more when Cornwell's portrayal of the familiar historical characters was given chance to come across.

Looking back, the trilogy is an interesting and more realistic take on the often romanticised Arthurian legends, with a grand scope that Cornwell manages to do justice to.

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