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Blog Tour Review: Pendragon’s Banner, Helen Hollick

After emerging the victorious king of Britain in the first book of the trilogy, Arthur now seeks peace with the many tribes and factions below him.  His enemies have not vanished and he often is required to fight them, but he always offers agreeable terms, often allowing the belligerents to keep the land they’d contested for but under his rule.  Some of Arthur’s Artoriani don’t understand this policy, and neither does Arthur’s wife, Gwenhwyfar, leading to conflict at home in addition to conflict throughout the country.  Arthur’s most determined enemies have not vanished, however, and it is these whom he must face down if he intends to keep his kingdom intact.

I like this trilogy.  There is really very little of the associated myths around Arthur, but it’s still easy to see how Hollick has worked with the evidence available to her to make a story that is both familiar and surprising at the same time.  Characters who were introduced by the French in the high middle ages have vanished, for example, but Arthur is still plagued by Morgause, still sleeps with his half-sister and bears a child by her, and so on.  This world is very rough, portraying a Britain caught between native Britons, Romans, and invading Germans, and gives a wonderful backdrop and feel to the story.

Nothing is easy for Arthur.  He is portrayed as quite a brilliant warlord and wins his fair share of uphill battles, but when it comes to emotional matters, he tends to fall apart.  Since he is both powerful and attractive, he appeals to many women, but he only loves his wife, Gwenhwyfar.  Their marriage is fraught with trouble, just like a real marriage, which is a very nice touch.  It’s obvious that they love each other, but some hardships are almost impossible to overcome.  Arthur doesn’t hesitate to sleep around but is incredibly jealous whenever he thinks Gwenhwyfar might be attracted to another man, which is uncomfortable for the modern reader but is probably more suited to the time than fidelity on both sides.

I really liked the character of Gwenhwyfar; I believe she’s my favorite in the series.  She is a strong, independent woman, but she also loves her husband and sons and makes space for everyone in her life.  She makes mistakes, mostly driven by emotion, but they only make her more human.  I definitely preferred her viewpoint and I am looking forward to more with the final book in the trilogy, Shadow of the King.

Pendragon’s Banner is an excellent continuation to a series about King Arthur that has an authentic feel to it, with great characters and a plot that will have its readers turning pages rapidly.  Definitely recommended for fans of historical fiction and Arthurian legend.

Interested to hear more?  Visit these other great sites on this blog tour:

The Tome Travellers Weblog (10/12)

A Reader’s Respite (10/12)

Carla Nayland’s Historical Fiction (10/13)

Enchanted by Josephine (10/14)

Fumbling with Fiction (10/14)

Found Not Lost (10/15)

Nan Hawthorne’s Booking the Middle Ages (10/15)

Jenny Loves to Read (10/16)

The Review From Here (10/17)

The Courtier’s Book (10/18)

Chick Loves Lit (10/19)

Love Romance Passion (10/20)

He Followed Me Home… Can I Keep Him? (10/20)

The Impasse Strikes Back (10/21)

S. Krishna’s Books (10/22)

Books Like Breathing (10/23)

Passages to the Past (10/24)

Virginie Says (10/25)

Readaholic (10/25)

Reading with Monie (10/26)

Rundpinne (10/26)

Books & Needlepoint (10/27)

Capricious Reader (10/27)

Books are my Only Friends (10/27)

A Sea of Books (10/28)

Bloody Bad (10/28)

Revenge of the Book Nerds! (10/28)

Booksie’s Blog (10/28)

Devourer of Books (10/29)

Peeking Between the Pages (10/29)

Starting Fresh (10/29)

Historical Tapestry (10/30)

Book Soulmates (10/30)

Susan’s Art & Words (10/30)

Steven Till (10/31)

Café of Dreams (10/31)

I am an Amazon Associate. I received this book from the publisher for review.

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