The Pendragon’s Banner Trilogy

The Pendragon’s Banner Trilogy, by Helen Hollick is set in the late 5th century.  The series is similar to The Camulod Chronicles in that both put Arthur in a gritty, realistic, unromanticized medieval Britain, and both create a realistic picture of that period.  Both are also similar in that they strip away all magical and fantasy elements.  But The Pendragon’s Banner Trilogy creates an Arthur who is even more a man of the period than the Arthur in The Camulod Chronicles, who is still enlightened and chivalrous.  The Arthur of The Pendragon’s Banner Trilogy is more like a medieval warlord than the romantic chivalrous king depicted by Malory and White.

The series includes: The Kingmaking (1994), Pendragon’s Banner, and Shadow of the King.

As an aside, Ms. Hollick developed an interest in the Dark Ages while working as a library assistant, and used her knowledge to write a realistic setting for the Arthurian legend.

The Kingmaking:

The Kingmaking tells the story of Arthur’s rise to power after the death of his father, Uther.  Arthur must fight the other lesser lords to keep his father’s kingdom.  This story is unusual in that Arthur was married before Guinevere (spelled Gwenhwyfar in this series).  In the first book he marries and splits from Winifred.  He also meets and marries Gwenhwyfar.

Pendragon’s Banner:

Arthur must defend his kingdom from the threats of competing claimants and from his first wife.  His first wife, Winifred and Morgause are both strong adversaries who plot against him.

This Arthur is much more promiscuous and violent than in most other depictions.  He is also much more deceptive and willing to use the tactics of his enemies, like scheming and assassination.  In this second book, he is very much like a medieval warlord.

Shadow of the King:

In the final book of the trilogy, Arthur has finally brought peace to his kingdom.  But he quickly grows restless and is easily convinced into sailing to Gaul to fight there.  While he is away, his kingdom is threatened from within.

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