With Excalibur, Bernard Cornwell draws his Arthurian trilogy to an exciting close that will have listeners gripping their headphones.
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."
©1999 Bernard Cornwell (P)2014 HarperCollins Publishers
I am a retired teacher who listens because she is vision impaired and can no longer read. I love history, a touch of fantasy, and mystery!
Bernard Cornwell has taken what has to be one of the best known, most loved legends of Britain and rewritten it from beginning to end. All of our best loved characters are there. The great love stories and great betrayals are all here but none of them as we have heard them before. Each character within the bounds of our expectations but never in exactly the way the songs have been sung. There is nothing that disappoints. The legend takes on flesh and shines with new threads. Even the end, while some might claim leaves the story unresolved, is completely satisfying. Cornwell is amazing, in this series more than any other, he truly earns the highest title as author, historian, and writer of our legends. Is there a Talisan award? Has he been knighted? This has to be the crowning glory of his career and life!
Derfel and Merlin -- incredibly nuanced characters brought to life by the uncanny narrative abilities of Jonathan Keeble
Merlin -- absolutely brought to life by the narrator
The Lords of War
I have been an avid reader of Cornwell's Saxon Tales for the last decade, and while waiting for the latest entry in that series, I was hesitant to try this earlier trilogy, expecting to be disappointed simply because Uhtred's saga seemed almost impossible to top. Boy, was I wrong. By the end of The Winter King, I was craving more. At the end of Enemy of God, I applauded to an empty car. I am not an emotional person, but at the conclusion of Excalibur, I teared up. This is the greatest piece of modern fiction I have read. Jonathan Keeble is just as much a reason for that as the author; his unique narration of dozens of characters left me in awe. I believe this is the greatest written tale of Arthur, and with Keeble reading, it is also one of the greatest artistic performances I have ever experienced. Simply amazing.
The feeling of being there with Derfel thru the 3 novels and feeling his joy, sadness and anger.
Hard to say which has been my favorite throughout, but I would have to stick with Merlin. I enjoyed his portrayal throughout the series.
He brought so many of these characters to life, giving each one a distinct feel. The emotion, contempt, anger and sadness he voiced game so much more meaning than if I would've been reading off the pages.
Yes, definitely it was that engaging throughout the entire series, but also no as I did not want it to end.
I'd recommend this series to anyone who has been looking for something to broaden their perspective of the Arthurian legend. Obviously, one should begin with "The Winter King" and stick with it until the bitter end.
Cornwell is a very good writer of historical fiction. Not only is this book and the trilogy the best work he's done, its the best working of the Arthurian legend I have ever come across.
Absolutely! Jonathan Keeble's rich voice is so expressive that it's impossible for me to read the printed versions without his voice in my head. The magical metaphors and similes would lose their cadence and the phrases repeated throughout the books like "it's hard to stand in a shield wall" would be lost in the reading but verbally, provide a backdrop like a slow drumbeat. I've just finished all of the Saxon Chronicles and the Arthur series in about two months so I'm going to be a bit lost without Keeble in my ear.
I did love the main character, Derfel, and his honesty about his code, his faith and his flaws. He was such a believable character that makes you uncomfortable as he reveals his whole self. The other characters are fleshed out over the course of the series and you develop a love/hate relationship with Guinevere and then there are other characters that you start out embracing end up like those friends from your past that you have to let go because of who they have become, but you still have fond memories of yesteryear.
I loved the magic which looked eerily similar to dumb luck so you are constantly left wondering...though you just have to believe in Merlin's magic.
If one is interested in the Arthurian legend as told by hypothesized eye witness. This is the series. Masterful story-telling, both by the author Bernard Cornwell and by the voice actor Jonathan Keeble, bring the story alive. Start with "The Winter King." Yes, the battle scenes are brutal, but the story around them is one of the best I've read, ranking with "The Song of Fire and Ice" series by Martin.
This trilogy is reportedly the personal favorite of Cornwell. Deservingly so! It is so masterfully written and performed that you are sucked into post-Roman Britain. By the end I was desperately hoping for an epilogue or a flash-forward to learn Dervel's fate!
see headline. a voice well suited for the character, and a subtle, vivid performance.
splendid. which is odd, really, because he is even better suited as uhtred of bebenburg
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