Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Winter King by Berdard Cornwell

My husband had been trying to get me to read The Winter King for a while now. It wasn't that I didn't want to do it, but I just kept putting it off - mostly thinking that I would probably have to slog through it. It's not a long book, mind you - a little over 400 pages. But just flipping through the pages was daunting because I could tell it was going to be mostly descriptive writing, pretty slow going for me. I finally felt like I could put it off no longer, so I picked it up last week and began reading. I have to admit it was fairly slow to start with. Not that Cornwell isn't a master storyteller - he's fantastic at what he does. But the long pages coupled with names of people and places that were near impossible to pronounce made me feel a little bit lost initially. I persevered, however, because I knew that Stan wanted me to read these books. He knows I have a thing for the time period and Arthur stories in general, plus he loves these books I think it's more of a 'I love this and I so want to share it with you' sort of thing. Anyway, I plodded through a bit more, and somewhere along the way - maybe halfway through, I began to get acclimated to who each character was and the part they played in the tale. And then, I got hooked. Not because he wanted me to read it, but because it was really a wonderful story.
It's the first in a trilogy of what the Arthur story would've been had it actually been true. It's completely believable - Bernard Cornwell has a true gift for writing historical fiction. From the narrator's unique perspective, to the lush descriptions of the landscapes and the people, to the fantastically gruesome battle scenes - it's all done in such a way that you feel a sort of voyeuristic pleasure at watching these people's destinies unfold. It wasn't easy reading, to be sure, but it was certainly entertaining.