Sunday, October 25, 2009

Pendragon's Banner- Book Review + WINNER!!

In Pendragon’s Banner, by Helen Hollick, the tale of Arthur, the grand King and warrior, holds no place for Lancelot-types and ladies in distress.   In this meaty epic, you’ll find a hero in the midst of endless battles, strong-willed women, questionable loyalty, heart-wrenching deaths, and true love.

Arthur possessed not only those majestic qualities loved in a king that’s hero; he was also capable of extreme emotions and actions that  could destroy, refute (as in the case of his first son by Winifred…I had a very hard time understanding this…) and could also literally ‘dispose of’ mercilessly as a means to an  end. Those passages led to very intense reading- where I just could not put the book down.

I appreciated the author’s realistic in –the- times approach to this King Arthur who also proved to be endearing and vulnerable when it came to true love.  I admired Arthur for the ruler and lover he was (though some of his swaying motives lost him some points…but those were different times…).   Hollick brought her characters to life –drawing me to strong emotions, precisely, I imagine, as intended.  Her portrayal  led me to despise and wish cruelty on the venomous Morgause; understand the validity of Winifred’s motives, while disliking her altogether; and then, there was Gwenhwyfar…

For me, she was the real heroine of this novel.  I must admit that although I passionately read through the battle scenes, scheming plots, horrifying situations and the saddest of deaths-It was Gwen who kept me hooked to the storyline.  What a heroine!  In Pendragon’s Banner, Gwenhwyfar is strong, loyal, incredibly skilled mentally and physically (she could whip a sword as well as any Artoriani!) Her devotion, as well as her determination proved unshakeable in the worst of fates.  Her fiery temper was no less passionate in the face of love for her husband and children.  In all her intensity, Gwenhwyfar was also capable of great compassion, kindness and giving towards others in their time of need. Based upon Hollick’s fantastic character portrayal of Gwen in this rich novel, I have a renewed love and admiration for Arthur’s glorious Queen. 

Pendragon’s Banner is a rich and gripping tale, but not without its light and often comical moments which the author interjects throughout the novel.  Actions, motions and scenes are regularly described, with visual editorial type moments for vivid effect.   It also helps alleviate the heavier scene being dealt with.  For those who enjoy this type of thing, here’s an example:

Bottom of pg. 351, ‘Arthur slid his thumb through his sword belt, and rocked forward onto the balls of his feet and back to his heels.’ 

And, here’s another:

pg.312, ‘Arthur’s expression was his familiar, implacable, grim squint of right eye half shut, left eyebrow raised.’ 

Pendragon’s Banner, although quite chunky, is a relatively smooth read (difficult names and words have a pronunciation guide at the front).  In addition, all chapters are only 3 to 4 pages long, easily readying you towards the next transition of events.

Arthurian fans will enjoy this tale portraying Arthur and his Lady in a different, yet more convincing light than ever read before.

AND Now…for the WINNER of Pendragon’s Bannerdrum roll
CONGRATULATIONS  Michelle!  Email me with your contact info please:


Katy said...

I love books with description like that. It makes for a vivid read. :) Great review! And congratulations to Michelle!

BurtonReview said...

A great review.. And congrats to Michelle for winning! I am not sure I can handle all the Welsh pronunciations such as Gwenhwyfar, etc..
that would make it difficult for me. Did you read the first one in the series?

Lucy said...

Hi Katy:) This one definitley has a lot of descriptive dialog and that's great if you enjoy this kind of reading- Pendragon's Banner would be perfect for you then. Thanks!

Hey Marie:) The pronunciations definitely are challenging..but the good thing is (for me anyway) that I never read aloud-haha! Thanks:)

Sheila Deeth said...

Congratulations Michelle. I like the Welsh names but it helps if there's a pronunciation guide somewhere.

Lizzie said...

ah you finished, I too can not get past the welsh pronunciations.

Great review Lucy.

Lauren said...

Loved your review!!

Melanied'Anjou said...

one of the most beautiful blogs I've seen. Great review! Keep going!!!!
Tight Hugs,
Melanie d'Anjou

Viola said...

Hi Ms. Lucy,

This book certainly sounds interesting! The portrayal of Guinevere as a very evil woman in T.H. White's classic was very memorable so it would be good to read a novel in which she appears in a positive light.

Nina said...

Great review, I loved reading it.
I love reading about Artur and this book sounds very nice and different than I usually read. Thanx.

Jenny Girl said...

I could not agree more! Great review Lucy. Behind every great man is an even greater woman :)