Excalibur, by Bernard Cornwell

Third in the "Warlord" trilogy after Enemy of God and The Winter King.

Again, you wouldn't really want to read this one without having read the other two. And if you've read the other two, then you sort of have to read this one I suppose.

The main events in this book are Merlin's attempt to bring together the sacred treasures of Britain; a big set-piece battle against the Saxons, and the final battle between Arthur and Mordred. But it's a long old slog to get through it; this is the longest of the three books and was around 20 hours of audio.

Like the others, the book was quite slow moving, and verging on tedious to start with. But as you get into the pace it's not too bad, and the battle sequences are good. Trouble is, there aren't really enough of them, and they have a habit of being a bit predictable: just when all seems to be lost, Arthur (or Merlin, or Sagramore) will turn up and help them win after all.

Lots of people died in this book, including Lancelot, Mordred, Merlin, and possibly Arthur. By the time this happened you did feel you knew the characters quite well, so their passing did seem significant. And it did feel like quite an achievement to get through the book, and a bit disappointing that it was over. But then I started on another book, which is a lot more action-packed, and realised how nice it was to listen to a story for fun rather than from a sense of duty.

So it was worth reading for a different perspective on the Arthur tale, but I don't think I can imagine reading them again; I'd rather read "The Once and Future King".

Completed : 18-Jun-2005 (audiobook, read by Edmund Dehn)

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