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Friday, October 23, 2009

Pendragon’s Banner by Helen Hollick

Pendragon's Banner: Book Two of the Pendragon's Banner Trilogy
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
ISBN: 1402218893
Pages: 496 pgs
Genre: Historical Fiction/England
Challenges-Read’n’Review Challenge, 100+ Reading Challenge

Publisher’s Description

Who was the man
… who became the legend
… we know as

Pendragon's Banner is the second book in Helen Hollick's exciting King Arthur trilogy, covering 459-465 A.D. This is not a fairy tale or fantasy. There is no Merlin, no sword in the stone, and no Lancelot. This is the most accurate Arthurian legend ever written, based on historical evidence and meticulous research.

At age twenty-four, King Arthur has the kingdom he fought so hard for and a new young family. But keeping the throne of Britain—and keeping his wife and three sons safe—proves far from easy. Two enemies in particular threaten everything that is dear to him: Winifred, Arthur's vindictive first wife, and Morgause, priestess of the Mother and malevolent Queen of the North. Both have royal ambitions of their own.

In this story of harsh battles, secret treasonous plots, and the life-threatening politics of early Britain's dark ages, author Helen Hollick boldly reintroduces King Arthur as you've never seen him before.

My Review

Arthurian legend has never really been my thing. It was always too fairy tale for me. Or even worse, a really bad movie. I was pleasantly surprised with this book because it really transformed the Arthurian legend for me and made me very interested in the history, the romance and the action.

I was a bit nervous when I picked this book up because I am always nervous what I pick up a series in the middle. I get a bit twitchy and skittish and worry that I am missing something. I found that this was not really a problem with this book. I honestly did not feel like I was missing anything. I was thoroughly impressed with the historical detail and richness in this book. I love historical fiction where you can tell the amount of research that went into writing the book. This is definitely one of them.

The relationship between Arthur and Gwenhwyfar was also a highlight for me. I did feel like I had jumped into their story in midst of it but it’s not like I won’t buy the first book in the series because I can’t help myself.  You could feel the push and pull between them. Gwenhwyfar was such a leap beyond the typical heroine we see in the Arthur fairy tales and legends. She is strong, intelligent, and willful not like the simpering, whimpering damsel in distress.  I really liked that because I hate damsels in distress with a passion.

Pendragon’s Banner did have one small issue for me. It jumped a lot between different time periods. Each chapter is marked with the year it takes place in but sometimes I had to go back and check what I was missing. Not really a big gripe and you can expect something similar in most historical fictions.

I liked this book a lot. It has become one of my favorite historical fictions and I will play catch-up with the first book in the series and buy the last book the minute it comes out.
*A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher for review. My opinion is my own and has not been influenced in any way and any monies made from associate or affiliate accounts are recycled back into the blog.


  1. Hello - thank you for the invitation onto your blog, and a double thank you for the lovely review (I'm blushing!)

    I agree with you about the time jumps, but my main problem was that I had a lot of ground to cover and it is already a very big book. The entire Trilogy spans Arthur's life from a young lad to an oldish man, that is why I put the dates in, to try and help my reader keep up with the passing of time. What has not helped are the incorrect typos of a couple of the dates. A type setting fault not mine!

  2. Hi Helen,

    Thanks so much for stopping by my blog and commenting. I really love your book. I am going to order the first book.

    I completely understand. It might have been more difficult for me to grasp because I jumped in right in the middle of a series. It's part of the reason I am going to buy the first book and then reread the second.

    I really loved the Pendragon's Banner and I can't wait to catch up with and reread the series.


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