Bernard Cornwall distinguishes himself from other writers of Arthurian legend by his use of a historically, or at least an anthropologically, probable background. In his series, which starts with the Winter King, we see life as it most likely was. I don’t feel like giving examples however. Read it and confirm them yourself.
This book is about Derfel, a Saxon orphan adopted by Merlin that eventually becomes a warrior for Arthur. Derfel is accounting to the reader in the first person both his past service to Merlin and Arthur (now long dead), and his current task of writing out the legend for the local princess. Though they are allies, he suspects her of altering the drafts he gives her in favor of the more romantic and ingrained versions she grew up on. This suspicion, an
d other observations he confides only in the reader, lend an air of authenticity to the story we read.
Cornwall also distinguishes himself by being better then most science fiction writers out there. He develops a consistent narrative voice; by that I mean that his work doesn’t appear to be a cheap romance novel one moment and a horror story the next. Winter King is refreshingly clear of the clichés, kitschy hooks, and gimmicks so common in this genre. Again, I don’t feel like giving examples.
Winter King goes above the catchy stuff you sci-fi nerds are used to, as it approaches that high status we in the profession call “good literature.” You will be required to use your imagination when you read this book and to grapple with the grim realities of life in the Dark Ages.