Ulther, the High King's son, is dead. All hope for continuation of the Pendragon line is with Ulther's newborn grandson, Mordred. The child, born deformed, is placed in the care of the greatest warlords of the time. Arthur is one of them. An illegitimate son of Ulther, he is not considered a successor.

Arthur and the myriad other warlords of the dark age must swear allegiance to preserve the child until he is grown.

"You must think of Britain... Derfel, as though she were laced with ribbons of a thinning mist." And so Derfel tells the story. A converted Christian, the warrior monk pens the legend in intricate detail, bringing a mystical realism to the time of Druid ceremony and ambitious Christians. Derfel, through Mr. Cornwell, does not hold back and the story is richer for it. The reader will be honored to meet Mr. Cornwell's Arthur, Guinevere, Sir Lancelot, Sir Galahad, Merlin and Derfel.

There are many political maneuverings, many twists in the plot and battles to take part in, and there is romance, sometimes sweet, but many times bitter and unrequited.

THE WINTER KING, the first in Bernard Cornwell's The Warlord Chronicles, is a book that will draw you in and you will never want to leave. If you loved Mary Stewart's Merlin Chronicles, you will embrace this book. Bernard Cornwell, veteran writer of the Sharpe novels, will not disappoint the reader. (May, 448 pp., $24.95)

Reviewed by: 
Cyndie Dennis-Greer