“Enemy of God” by Bernard Cornwell (St. Martin’s Press, 1996)

Enemy of God

In Bernard Cornwell’s second installment of The Warlord Chronicles, he continues where he left off in The Winter King: Arthur has defeated the armies of Powys and Siluria, while the kings, Gorfyddyd and Gundleus, are dead, and with an alliance between the Brythonic kingdoms now near at hand, he turns to confronting their common enemy, the Saxons.

Derfel continues the telling of his tale, where he is ordered to Powys to arrange a marriage between Lancelot, a man he despises, and the beautiful Ceinwyn, who he has completely fallen in love with, though he does not tell Arthur of this.  The mighty warrior soon arrives in Powys with the beautiful Guenevere and his full entourage to enjoy the grand wedding and all seems to be going according to plan.  Meanwhile, Merlin knows of Derfel’s love and offers him an ultimatum.  The magician is in search of one of the sacred thirteen treasures of the island of Britain, a powerful cauldron that supposedly has the power to bring the dead back to life.  If Derfel will join him on this quest, he will make sure Ceinwyn is his.  He is given an enchanted pig’s bone which, if he breaks it, will release the magic, and Ceinwyn will belong to Derfel.  The young man must then decide what he must do, as he weighs the decisions of Arthur, his lord, with the desires and wants of his heart.

Enemy of God takes the story of Arthur in new directions, as Cornwell skillfully blends it with some Welsh mythology to make for a captivating and adventurous tale.  At the same time the Christian faith is growing in power, and Arthur must balance this fact with respect for the Druid religion, but ultimately decide what is best for Britain and its people.

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

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