Everyone knows the story-how Arthur pulled the sword from the stone, how Camelot came to be, and about the power struggles that ultimately destroyed Arthur's dreams. But what of the time before Arthur and the forces that created him?
How did the legend really come to pass?
Before the time of Arthur and his Camelot, Britain was a dark and deadly place, savaged by warring factions of Picts, Celts, and invading Saxons. The Roman citizens who had lived there for generations were suddenly faced with a deadly choice: Should they leave and take up residence in a corrupt Roman world that was utterly foreign, or should they stay and face the madness that would ensue when Britain's last bastion of safety for the civilized, the Roman legions, left?
For two Romans, Publius Varrus and his friend Caius Britannicus, there can be only one answer. They will stay, to preserve what is best of Roman life, and will create a new culture out of the wreckage. In doing so, they will unknowingly plant the seeds of legend-for these two men are Arthur's great-grandfathers, and their actions will shape a nation . . . and forge a sword known as Excalibur.
©1996 Jack Whyte (P)2013 Audible, Inc.
I am a lover of fantasy novels with exciting action, complex plots, and unforgettable characters.
After reading this novel I wasn't sure what to think for a while. My conclusion is it was a decent book, but the entire book lacks a flow or a pace. There are large patches of slow almost development and suddenly there is brutal action for a short time. The action is so vicious that it is somewhat shocking in my opinion. The action does not fit the style of book that I believe the author is trying to write. Also, th e sex scenes are some of the most graphic I have ever read, and they are a bit too numerous for my taste. The story is just too jumpy, it has no consistent clean flow to it. The other problem with this book is that the characters especially the narrator are frequently put in situations that don't match the person he is supposed to be. The narrator is portrayed as an intelligent, thoughtful military veteran, yet he frequently lets his anger and hate get away from him, and does things that can only be described as incredibly stupid. The third problem with this book is the way a lot of stuff seems to go unexplained. For example, after the fight scenes the author seems to go on with the book as if nothing happened, there is no so-called clean up period, where everything is explained. The final problem with this book was the fact that there are large sections where the author tries to explain things and the story limps along for a while. There are good things about this book though, the characters are interesting and decently developed, the author's knolidge of old Britain is excellent, and the overall premise of the series seems interesting. The narrator did a fair job, but seemed to read the book more than act it out. I think this book is worth reading if you are interested in reading pre King Arthur myths, and I may get the next novel because I am curious to see if the author can fix some of the problems with the first book.
The writing was cliched and anachronistic, the dialogue wooden and the delivery, plot and action was tedious. There were few surprises that the reader could not guess well in advance of their "discovery". The book was too long - needs a good editor.
The narrator - Pariseau is just not in the same league with the other narrators I have heard through Audible. His delivery is monotone and sounds as though he is reading the book for only the second time.
Simon Vance is one of my favorites, as is the narrator for Heresy, but I would have chosen Christian Rodska, narrator of the Lindsey Davis Didius Falco series. He would be very suited for the military nature of the book and the main character 1st person narration
The historic time period was interesting.
I loved history of Britan from the Roman occupation and the story of a warm and loving family.
Cius Britanicus as he is the catalyst that sets things going.
All of his voices for each character is incredible he even handles the womens voices ok a tough thing to do in Audio books If I have any criticism it would be that he reads a little too slowly but as I got into the book i got used to it.
I loved Lucia with all her strenght of character and determination
I am an avid Jack Whyte fan and have read every one of his books but I am reliving them now in his audio books and it is a thrill. Just started the singing sword and can hardly wait!
A re-reading of Dorothy Dunnett's 'Niccolo Rising'. A masterclass in substantive and entertaining historical fiction.
This book should never have found a publisher let alone made it into the hands of an editor. But to answer the question: large chunks of the artificial, stilted dialogue.
It's like being transported back to the Roman Empire, but with the light touch of the great narrator.
It reminds me of the style of Ellis Peters in Brother Cadfael for the ability to make you live the historical period and entertain you at the same time.
I definitely like the protagonist Publius Varus
Of course Caius Britannicus is very impressive
I have been waiting for this series to be available since I first joined Audible. When I first read this series in hard cover it became my favorite interpretation of the Arthurian legend. It became the one I compared all others to after reading it, and it still is. Jack Whyte set the bar high for any other "King Arthur" stories that I read. It was great to be able to listen to the story again during my daily commute.
Jack makes it easy to get vested in his characters. You grow and develop with them as the story progresses.
Before the "Once and Future King"
A must read for any Arthurian Legend Fan!!
I really enjoy the historical fiction approach to the Arthurian legend, as opposed to magical realism. Whyte's writing is solid. I got the feeling at many points in the book that he was stretching things out MUCH longer than necessary. Maybe he was trying to make the book a certain length. It showed.Pariseau's character voices were very good but the odd, smug, flat, formal tone of his narration (aka Publius) really made it difficult for me to embrace Publius as a character. Also, I have yet to hear a male narrator do a female character voice in a way that is not obnoxious.
Obviously written with male readers in mind. Which is fine. But trim the fat!!!
Someone younger sounding.
Yes. It's obviously a story that is meant to be continued with future books (and it is).
Caius Brittanicus strength, integrity and the ability to see a plan through to the end, even in the face adversity. All qualities the world could use more of.
At the end of the book one of the main characters dies, and you feel the loss of a friend, a loss that maybe did'nt have to happen except for choices made in the heat of the moment.
This is my favorite author, he is a mason with a strong moral character. He is not preachy in the least rather leading by example through his characters, most of whom you will become quite fond of. Even thevillians have many layers as you peel the onoin that is this series.
Whyte starts with Arthurian pre-history, so it does take its time. But you get the feeling he's laying the groundwork for some great characters and plot twists.
I've read other Arthurian legends, but none of them starts in the last days of the Roman Empire to set the stage for how Camelot was formed. The anarchy that came after the Romans left Britain must have been terrible.
He does such great character work. It's like a radio play -- you understand who everyone is.
Not really. The sex scenes were interesting...
A fun listen. I'm in for the long haul on this one. I hope the story elements pay off!
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