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Summary

Uther, the High King of Britain, has died, leaving the infant Mordred as his only heir. His uncle, the loyal and gifted warlord Arthur, now rules as caretaker for a country which has fallen into chaos - threats emerge from within the British kingdoms while vicious Saxon armies stand ready to invade.

Uther, the High King of Britain, has died, leaving the infant Mordred as his only heir. His uncle, the loyal and gifted warlord Arthur, now rules as caretaker for a country which has fallen into chaos - threats emerge from within the British kingdoms while vicious Saxon armies stand ready to invade.

As he struggles to unite Britain and hold back the Saxon enemy, Arthur is embroiled in a doomed romance with beautiful Guinevere.

©1995 Bernard Cornwell (P)2014 HarperCollins Publishers Limited

What members say

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Simply Brilliant

Would you listen to The Winter King again? Why?

This is the kind of story you can enjoy over and over again. The Winter King boasts an engrossing, complex and compelling storyline rarely found in stories based on the Arthurian legends, which tend toward the tradition of chivalry, knights, round tables and simple good/evil battles against Mordred, Oberon and Morgan Le Fay. Bernard Cornwell has done a masterful job in The Warlord Chronicles of creating an Arthur that is believable, an Arthur desperately trying to hold post-Roman Britain together when the stabilising forces of the empire have gone and the chaotic forces of inter-kingdom warfare, religious conflict and Saxon invasions have come. This brilliant story is told by a brilliant narrator, Jonathan Keeble, whose voice and performance are absolutely perfect for this dark historical fantasy.

What did you like best about this story?

Perhaps the story's strongest aspect is Bernard Cornwell's careful maintenance of historical realism. It is easy to imagine a Britain in the grip of the early Dark Ages, unsure of itself and vulnerable in the aftermath of the departure of the Roman legions and the arrival of hordes of Saxons. It is all the more moving when you realise that history holds the eventual end of the story; we know that the Saxons succeeded in conquering much of Britain, and it doesn't matter how hard Arthur fights. The Saxons will win in the end.

Which character – as performed by Jonathan Keeble – was your favourite?

Jonathan Keeble's performances of all the characters in this audiobook are brilliant - he is the perfect narrator for this story. But perhaps his greatest success is in his portrayal of Arthur himself. The voice that Keeble uses for Arthur is only slightly different than the voice which he uses to portray the main character, Derfel, but it is enough. A slight tone in Arthur's voice immediately identifies him and carries across his humanity, compassion, ambition and altruism all at the same time.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

The only downside to this audiobook is its sheer length. At almost 20 hours, it is impossible to listen to the whole thing in one sitting - unless you are possessed of resolute determination, an iron will, and a lack of need for sleep. I would have liked to listen to all 20 hours without a break, as I found that when I had to turn it off to sleep and resumed it in the morning the story became a little disjointed. However, this is only a minor complaint and I would much rather have a long audiobook that takes multiple sittings than a short one that's over too soon.

Any additional comments?

This is an excellent example of historical fiction and of a legend being historicised. I cannot recommend this audiobook highly enough and eagerly await next month's credit so I can download the next instalment in the trilogy.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

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Classic

Would you listen to The Winter King again? Why?

The narrator was entertaining and brought the story - one of my favourites - to life.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Winter King?

The part where Gundlias comes to the Tor....

What does Jonathan Keeble bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

I really liked his various voices for the male characters. The female characters were sometimes OTT and verging on the Monty Python, Life of Brian "He's not a naughty boy" kind of thing but, overall, Keeble was an excellent narrator.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I laughed out loud a few times, thanks to both Cornwell's understated writing and Keeble's acting.

Any additional comments?

I read this series when it first came out and thought the audiobook would be a good way to go through it again without actually reading it. I wasn't disappointed and look forward to listening to the next two books with my membership credits.

Steven A. McKay, author of WOLF'S HEAD.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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The start of a great trilogy

Any additional comments?

Another excellent series by Bernard Cornwell. In my opinion this is his second best series behind The Saxon Stories. His portrayal of magic is excellent such that it becomes believable in a historical fiction setting, rather than fantasy where magic usually belongs.

As always with Cornwell, the battles are marvelously described, seeming to put you in the middle of the shield wall with the protagonist, Derfel.

The narration is superb, Jonathan Keeble has a powerful orators voice and is able to do a wide variety of accents so you immediately know the character who is speaking.

If you enjoy historical fiction, fantasy or other novels by Bernard Cornwell you should definitely try this one.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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outstanding performance and wonderfully written

a wonderfully different take on the legend of Arthur. well perfomed and totally spellbinding. a great start to the warlord trilogy

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A long haul!

This is the first Bernard Cornwell book that I have found a struggle to get through. Doesn't seem to have the fluidity of the Last Kingdom series and I found it difficult to keep up with names and places. Have book two to start on so hopefully the story will develop and I will understand what's happening a bit better!

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my new fave

Fantastic writing, such a gripping and exciting story. Lots of characters really brought to life by expert narration. Can't wait for part 2

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Brilliant

Fantasticly written story brought to life by Jonathan Keeble. I have read this book many times so in my mind this audio book had alot to live up to. Jonathan Keeble did not disappoint.

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Fantastic narration

This is one of my favourite Bernard Cornwall series and the narration was first class and really brought the story and characters to life.

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one of the best

this is one of the best Arthur stories I've herd an with a few exceptions is true to the arganal Welsh legends

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Another blinder from Cornwell

A telling of the Arthurian legend by someone who was there. At least, that's how this vivid, graphic and well-paced book goes.

Immense action, subtle 'magic', horror, friendship and love. different from any Arthur based tale I've read before, but in a good way.