“Excalibur” by Bernard Cornwell (St. Martin’s Press, 1998)

Excalibur
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The final book of Bernard Cornwell’s Warlord Chronicles is all about confrontation and final showdowns, whether it be in battle, against matters of faith, or between the wants of certain people.  Readers familiar with the Arthurian saga know of Arthur’s inevitable end, but Cornwell has created and developed a number of interesting subplots and characters that the reader has been following since the beginning of the trilogy, which are all resolved.

Guenevere’s infidelity with Lancelot has been revealed, though she professed it to be due to her prayers and offerings to the goddess Isis with the hopes of making Arthur king; she is now imprisoned.  Lancelot has been revealed as the coward and traitor that he is and has defected to the Saxons.  Meanwhile the Christians are becoming stronger and more dominating.  Merlin has a plan though; to bring back the old gods and save Britain, however, it will require extreme sacrifices, which Arthur may not be willing to grant.  Mordred has been overthrown for his evil ways, and is imprisoned, while Arthur rules, but the Saxons have plans to free the rightful heir and it will all come down to one last battle at Camlan.

Readers who have come this far will not be disappointed with this great finale to the trilogy, which ends not with a resolution of Derfel as a monk in his monastery, but with the last page of Arthur and his sad end, with the hope that he will one day return to Britain.

Originally written on March 17, 2012 ©Alex C. Telander.

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