Sep 22, 2012

Excalibur by Bernard Cornwell

We've reached the final volume in the Warlord Chronicles trilogy, with Arthur finally the undisputed leader of the British (while his nephew Mordred remains King of Dumnonia in name only, guarded in his palace with no real power, kept alive basically until he marries and produces an heir). It's time for one of the key events in Arthurian lore: Mount Badon! From the author's website:
"If Arthur existed (and I am quite certain he did) then he was probably the great British war leader who won the battle of Mount Badon. No one knows where it was fought, or how it was fought, but we do know that the battle took place and it was the one great defeat inflicted on the English invaders of Britain. In Excalibur we follow Arthur and Derfel to that enormous struggle and incredible victory. It not only throws the Saxons back, but reunites Arthur and Guinevere. He might hope now to be left alone, to have a time of peace after gaining a great victory, but new enemies arise to destroy all he has achieved. First is Mordred himself, the crippled king who owes everything to Arthur and now tries to kill his benefactor. Mordred’s ally is Nimue who has come to hate her mentor, Merlin. And so the story ends as it has always ended, at Camlann . . . ‘and so my lord was gone. And no one has seen him since.’"

Sep 15, 2012

Enemy of God by Bernard Cornwell

Second volume in the Warlord Chronicles trilogy, the story starts moments after the ending of the first volume with the aftermath of the terrible battle of Lugg Vale against Kings Gorfyddyd of Powys and Gundleus of Siluria. The warring British kingdoms are now unified in their fight against the Saxons, From the author's website:
"At the end of The Winter King Arthur fought the battle that forces unity on the warring British kingdoms and now he sets out to face the real enemy – the English (it is one of the great ironies of the Arthur stories that he should have become an English hero when, if he existed at all, he was a great war-leader who opposed the invading Sais). First, though, Merlin leads a perilous expedition into the mysterious west to retrieve a cauldron, one of the treasures of Britain – this cauldron story is almost certainly the root of the holy grail strand in the Arthur tales. The treasures of Britain, Merlin believes, will bring the old Gods onto the side of the British in their struggle against the Saxons (and the Christians, whom Merlin hates). But the treasures will also set Briton against Briton – especially as Guinevere, now Arthur’s wife, wants to make a magic of her own. ‘Chaos was now thick across Britain, for someone had spilt the Cauldron’s power and its horror threatened to engulf us all.’"

Sep 5, 2012

The Winter King by Bernard Cornwell

First book in the Warlord Chronicles trilogy, in which we discover Arthur as a fully-fledged warrior through the eyes of one of Merlin's pupils, former Saxon-slave Derfel, who will become one of Arthur's trusted lieutenants. From the author's website:
"‘Once upon a time, in a land that was called Britain, these things happened . . . . and I was there, and this is how it was.’ The Winter King, like the rest of the trilogy, is narrated by Derfel (which is pronounced Dervel), one of Arthur’s warriors. This first book tells how after the death of Uther, High King of Britain, the country falls into chaos. Uther’s heir is a child, Mordred, and Arthur, his uncle, is named one of the boy’s guardians. Arthur has to fight other British kingdoms and the dreadful “Sais” – the Saxons – who are invading Britain. Arthur is supposed to marry Ceinwyn, a princess of Powys, but falls disastrously in love with Guinevere – ‘There have been many more beautiful women, and thousands who were better, but since the world was weaned I doubt there have been many so unforgettable as Guinevere . . . and it would have been better, Merlin always said, had she been drowned at birth.’"

Sep 4, 2012

The Warlord Chronicles by Bernard Cornwell

oops! Wrong order in bottom 2! :p
Although Bernard Cornwell may be better known for his Sharpe novels, on his website he confesses that his Arthurian trilogy are his favourite amongst his own novels!

From Bernard Cornwell's website:
"Once upon a time, in a land that was called Britain, these things happened . . . " well, maybe. The Warlord Trilogy is my attempt to tell the story of Arthur, ‘Rex Quondam Rexque Futurus’, the Once and Future King, although I doubt he ever was a king. I suspect he was a great warlord of the sixth century. Nennius, who was one of the earliest historians to mention Arthur, calls him the ‘dux bellorum’ – leader of battles or warlord.
Bernard Cornwell's Britain is that of the fifth and sixth century, a dark time when the Britons, after having been recently abandoned by the Romans who "civilised" them (many Britons still held to all things Roman), were facing wave after wave of Saxon invasions. Invasions which would inevitably lead to the Saxon colonisation of Britain. And they weren't alone: the Irish, fellow Celts, were constantly raiding along the western shores, and the north was frequently under attack from the tribes beyond Hadrian's wall. In fact some Britons had already abandoned the fight and found refuge across the sea in Brittany / Armorica. It was a Britain without any unity, divided into smaller kingdoms regularly at war with each other. It was a Britain in the midst of a religious conflict as well: that of the ever-growing Christianity against what little remained of Druidism (almost extinguished by the Romans) and other religious beliefs also imported by Rome (such as Mithraism).

Sep 2, 2012

SG-1: Avalon

The two-parter Avalon is the opening episode of Stargate SG-1's 9th season. In it they had to establish new characters General Landry (hew head of Stargate Command) and Col. Cameron Mitchell (new head of SG-1).  These introductions include some very cool flashbacks to the battle above Antarctica 2 years before (in which Mitchell is supposed to have saved SG-1 in an F-302) and some great reparté between the two newcomers. ("I'm here to join SG-1" "Colonel, you're here to LEAD SG-1")

They also had to introduce us to the new "big baddies" of seasons 9 and 10: the Ori, basically "evil Ancients". And in so doing we ended up discovering an alien element to the Arthurian legend! ;o)