Review: King Arthur: Warrior of the West by M. K. Hume


King Arthur: Warrior of the West
King Arthur: Warrior of the West by M.K. Hume
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As I said when I reviewed the first book in this trilogy “Dragon’s Child”, I have read and enjoyed Bernard Cornwell‘s Arthurian stories and Mary Stewart’s somewhat whimsical tales of Arthurian Legend. However I have to declare that M. K. Hume‘s Arthurian legend is a superb unorthodox account of one of the most treasured of British legends, she is up there with Bernard Cornwell and Conn Iggulden.
I find that her style of weaving a story is somewhat distinctive and brimming with detail and creativity. Her talent to place images of bloody battle scenes in your head and then to explain the subtle involvements in her characters interactions is simply inspirational, furthermore if you are searching for a story weaver who can give you images of bloody battles you won’t be let down.
It’s always good to come across another great historical series and this new trilogy from M K Hume looks set to be one. The first book follows the story of Arthur from childhood into manhood. Exciting, violent and bloody and full of historical facts to keep you gripped throughout.
This tale includes all the time-honoured elements of this legend but this weaver of tales presents us with an original, unsentimental and most crucially a quite plausible tale.
I’m not saying it’s perfect it’s different, a bit darker and if you want to read of Arthur of the Britons beneath the customary legend then M. K. Hume has given us that choice.
Anyhow to the book;
M K Hume grasps this legend by the scruff of its neck and arranges the story based on realism and logic by producing a young man who struggles to accept the fate that is his by heritage in a brutal and bloody age.
This the second book in an exhilarating, Arthurian trilogy that starts twelve long, bloody years, after Artor fulfilled his destiny and was crowned the High King of the Britons. Against all odds, Artor has united Celtic Britain and with a last great campaign, has banished the Saxon scourge. The legend of Camlann has begun. But even as Artor’s kingdom is at its zenith, even as he has succeeded in conquering all external threats to his rule, his kingdom is being undermined from within.
Not only is Artor betrayed by the one person he should be able to trust, he has also learned of appalling perversion at the heart of his kingdom. He must make a terrible choice. Does he commit a deed that leaves him open to comparison with the despotic Uther Pendragon, or does he let evil go unchecked? The burden of leadership, of power, now rests solely – and heavily – on Artor’s shoulders for Myrddion Merlinus, master tactician, guiding light for so many years, has left Artor to his fate. Could all that Artor has fought for, the destiny of Britain, be lost? Will Britain be torn apart? Arthur (Artor) is now High King and takes revenge on the Saxons for the murder of his envoys.
Merlin (Myrddion) arranges a marriage for Arthur with the beautiful (but spoilt and dim – sounds very 21st Century WAG!) Guenevere (Wenhaver).
The beautiful and bewitching Nimue arrives (and in this version of the legend is one of the good people). At this point it all goes horribly wrong… but such is the way of legend.

The tale itself is agreeably narrated however after the opening violent) battle with the Saxons, we are left with a kind of peace for the country which doesn’t really seem right (Hence only 4 stars).
The tale then adheres to the Queen and her horrendous peevishness rather than keeping to Arthur and his task of the organising his army, knights and country and even though I enjoyed this book I found it more of a romantic fiction than a new and terrible vision of the Arthurian legend.
I imagine that, being the second book of the trilogy, we will have to wait for the third to come back to what I would think to be a horrendous ending that will certainly overcome Artor.
All in all it was a good read that left me wanting more, I just hope that the third and final part of this new version of Arthur of the Briton’s has more of Arthur and less of messed up, ill-tempered women!

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One response to “Review: King Arthur: Warrior of the West by M. K. Hume

  1. Good review; I’ve seen this book advertised before, but didn’t know much about it. If you’re into Arthurian retellings, I highly recommend Rosemary Sutcliff’s Sword at Sunset, the first and (I think) definitive historical retelling. It’s magnificent and epic, and does in one meaty-but-efficient volume what countless authors attempt in multi-book series. Her Artos is the most cunning and perceptive of the portrayals I’ve seen, and her Guenhumara–while ultimately still culpable–is far more layered and sympathetic than any other portrayal I have seen or read. Because Sutcliff sets it so deeply in the Dark Ages, there’s no Camelot or Merlin figure, nor certain other trappings we may expect. But the central story and love triangle are there. Anyway, if you haven’t heard of it, it’s a good one to check out.