Casual Book Review: The Winter King by Bernard Cornwell

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Casual Book Review: The Winter King by Bernard Cornwell

“It takes a remarkable writer to make an old story as fresh and compelling as the first time we heard it. With The Winter King, the first volume of his magnificent Warlord Chronicles, Bernard Cornwell finally turns to the story he was born to write: the mythic saga of King Arthur.” – Taken from

This book was recommended to me by a friend, another friend and, well, several friends. 

I’m a fan of Bernard Cornwell and that’s a fact. One of my favorite series is his medieval Grail Quest series, which follows an English archer during The Hundred Years War. It’s fantastic. I love it (and highly recommend it). Surely, then, I would love The Winter King – Arthurian legend by Cornwell, for crying out loud! Well, read on and find out…


What did I think of The Winter King by Bernard Cornwell?

I thought it was very, very well written – as always – which came across whilst listening to the Audible version (very well narrated). There was little chance, for me, that one of Cornwell’s books would not be well written. It was a given and it didn’t disappoint in that department.

The tale was told as a telling of a tale by someone who was there. Someone who starts out young and grows throughout the story. His journey was entertaining and felt realistic. I liked the main character a lot. He gave a blow by blow account of Arthur and those around him, of the legend’s strengths and weaknesses. The story telling was rich, the scenes vivid and the action intense.

Why did it not grab me the same as those of Cornwell’s I’ve previous loved?

Honest answer is, I’m not sure. I enjoyed it, I truly did. But I didn’t love it, alas. Some may say it was because I listened to it and didn’t read it. Perhaps. I listen to most of the books I digest now – habit of driving a lot and working away, coupled with an (enjoyably) busy home life. So, I can’t say it’s because of that, because the narration was excellent.


Another of Cornwell’s I loved was Agincourt. Maybe it’s the timeline then? The Winter King is set way before The Hundred Years War. Medieval Europe is my favorite time and place, be it historically or as a fantasy setting. Mayhaps that’s why this fell short of the ‘love’ tag for me, although I really enjoy Saxon and Viking tales, too. Which reminds me, I must read the books to the TV series I so dearly love:


I don’t want to hang about the negative that isn’t really a negative – the fact I don’t love this book like I love the other Cornwell books I’ve read, because I did really enjoy it. The action and the history of it, the characters and their relationships; battles and skirmishes, daily life and politics. It all worked and I still have to say it’s a must read for any Arthurian Legend fan, any historical fiction fan, any fantasy fan and, of course, any Bernard Cornwell fan. It’s a good, solid FOUR STARS from me, personally. But a four star rating with a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED attached. I’ll certainly continue the series, and look forward to it. I just have a few books on my list to enjoy first.

Thanks for reading and I hope you pick The Winter King up and enjoy it at least as much as I did, hopefully more so.

Cheers, JP.


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