Review: The Kingmaking (Pendragon’s Banner #1) ~ Helen Hollick

The KingmakingWho was THE MAN
Who became THE LEGEND
We know as KING ARTHUR?

“You are the Pendragon, rightful Lord of Dumnonia and the Summer Land; Lord of less Britain. By all that is right, you ought be seated where Vortigern sitsYou ought to be King.”

Here lies the truth of the Lord of the Summer Land.

This is the tale of Arthur flesh and bone. Of the shaping of the man, both courageous and flawed, into the celebrated ruler who inspired armies, who captured Gwenhyfar’s heart, and who emerged as the hero of the Dark Ages and the most enduring hero of all time.

This is the unexpected story of the making of a king the legend who united all of Britain. Book One of the Pendragon’s Banner Trilogy.

5 Thumbs-UpThis is the first in the trilogy Pendragon’s Banner and, if this first instalment is anything to go by it is going to be a great read from beginning to end.

If you are looking for the normal run of the mill rendition of the main protagonist, one that is filled with brilliantly shining armour and evil doings by witches and wizards, then this telling of the Arthurian legend is not the one for you.  With a skilful use of words this Author brings to life a living human being in the form of Arthur.  He has flaws and faults like the rest of us, and is definitely a product of the Dark Ages he lived in; cruel times that needed, at times, a cruel hand to deal with them that the reader would not find in the books that perpetuate the myth of this man.  Unlike the saintly personae given to Arthur in other books, this Arthur is a 100% red-blooded male, he does whatever is necessary to take what he feels is rightly is, pleasures himself with women as and when the urge drives him, lies and cheats.  This may seem as if the Author has written him this way to try to dissuade the reader from liking him, but the overall effect is to make him so human the reader actually feels sympathy for him and cheers him on in his endeavours.  We are able to walk beside him on his journey thankful that we did not have to live in these times.  The penmanship show by the Author is not just reserved for the main character; she treats each of them with as much skill imbuing them with all the traits and qualities that make up our species.  The Gwenhwyfar (Guinevere) character in this rendition is also totally different from those readers who may remember her from the Camelot movie as being played by Vanessa Redgrave; this Gwenhwyfar is a feisty, strong young woman who definitely knows her own mind; she is not content with skulking in the background weaving her ‘womanly’ plans to ensnare Arthur, she is a typical tom boy who loves the outdoors, adventure with hidden skills that only come to the forefront when needed.  Despite all this, she too is given a fallible side, which when bundled up with everything else about her makes her another character in this book that is easily liked; she is all woman as opposed to being a lady.

The elimination of magic in a story that is always surrounded and soaked in it makes this book unique.  Not a great deal is known about the time between the departure of the Romans from England and the arrival of the Normans in 1066, but it is apparent from reading this novel that the Author spent a great deal of time painstakingly research this era.  It is through this research and the way in which the Author translated it into their novel that lifted a lot of obscurity of the period for me, and for this I am truly grateful.  This book is a little slow to get underway, but these first few chapters set the scene perfectly for what is to come; once this book has gripped the reader though it will be hard for them to put aside without finishing it.

At 574 pages, for me this wasn’t a particularly meaty tome, but everyone one of those pages is filled with something that will keep even the most timid of readers when it comes to larger books captivated.  I would highly recommend this book to readers who enjoy a good historical fiction novel and lovers of Sharon Kay Penman, also to those who want a read that will keep them turning the pages long after they should have turned out the light.  I have the remaining two books in the trilogy all lined and ready to read, and I would suggest anyone that picks this up grabs the other two at the same time.

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3 thoughts on “Review: The Kingmaking (Pendragon’s Banner #1) ~ Helen Hollick

    • Hi – Loretta Livingstone passed this link on to me (Thank you Loretta!) Thank you Cate for such a lovely review. The Kingmaking was my first published adult novel, written a few years ago now, but I am thrilled that it is as strong as ever and readers are still enjoying it. Do let me know what you think of the next two in the Trilogy.
      You might also like my Sea Witch Voyages – they are nautical adventures, not serious historical fiction. I write them for fun and hope readers read them for fun. I mention them because my sea-faring hero, ex-pirate Jesamiah Acorne is very much like Arthur – fictionally created cousins maybe? LOL
      Thanks again!

      • Thank you for stopping by Helen, and to Loretta for letting you know I had jumped in and reviewed your book. I had no idea until reading this that it was your first adult novel.

        I always enjoy fun reading so I will take a peek at your Sea Witch voyages, and review them here if that is OK with you? I ask because sometimes Authors don’t want their ‘babies’ reviewed on the smaller book review sites.

        Once again thank you for stopping by.

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