Before Arthur was a legend, he was just a man. Before Gwenhwyfar was made a queen, she was just a woman.

In this, the first part of the Pendragon's Banner Trilogy, Ms. Hollick has relied on historians' meager findings to construct a classical and deeply researched story about Arthur as he truly might have been.

KINGMAKING starts when Arthur is 13, foster son to the great warlord, Uthr Pendragon. Already, Uthr's mistress Morgause and Arthur are at odds.

Gwenhwyfar, the only daughter of the Welsh Lord Cunedda, is on the brink of womanhood. Her first encounter with Arthur is not romantic. He is young and teasing; she is jealous and spiteful. But that soon changes as they find a common bond and vow that if Arthur ever becomes King, Gwen will be his wife.

But ambitious Arthur must acquire all he desires. He joins the enemy, King Vortigern, to spy, learn, and bide his time, while Gwen's father promises her in marriage to another.

This sizeable novel is filled with a myriad of characters and leaves readers eagerly anticipating the next book. (Jan., 604 pp., $24.95)

Reviewed by: 
Cyndie Dennis-Greer