Author: Anthony Hays
Publisher: Corvus Books
1st November 2011
ISBN: 9780857890054 (HB)
The cover I have is different than that shown.
I thoroughly enjoyed this. It’s the first Arthurian Mystery I have come across, and I love a good mystery so this was no exception.
Although this is based in Arthurian times and therefore has main characters as you would expect to see, such as Arthur, Merlin and Guinevere, it isn’t meant to be historically accurate, and offers a twist on the Arthurian legends and an ingenious mystery. The author's note goes into more detail of his inspiration for his twists.
This tale is narrated by the elderly Malgwyn ap Cuneglas, who reflects on his life both alongside Arthur and his family. Malgwyn comes across as his own man from the very start, one who will not be bought or persuaded by anything other than his own moral code – which is a rare thing in this setting, and makes Malgwyn within Arthurs trusted circle.
Malwyn’s wife is raped and killed by Saxons, an act which Malgwyn avenges many times over in his grief and grievance with the Saxons. Malgwyn blames Arthur for denying him a soldier’s death, and sees himself as half a man after being left with only one arm.
I enjoyed being emerged into the mysteries which Malgwyn had to unravel, and I couldn’t begin to untie the plot and discover the truth. Malgwyn eventually sees himself as others see him – a man of sincerity and morals who can be trusted.
A truly brilliant read. I love the backdrop as well as the intrigue and eventual outing of the killer.
"Welcome to fifth century Britain: the Romans have left, the Saxons have invaded, the towns are decaying and the countryside dangerous. A young leader has forged a reputation as a both a warrior and a diplomat and supreme power is within his grasp. But Camelot does not exist; chivalry is nonexistent; betrayal and treachery are endemic. This is not the Arthur of legend. And neither is this Arthur's story. This tale belongs to its grim narrator, Malgwyn ap Cuneglas, a man whose broken life mirrors the broken Roman roads that divide the landscape. Once a feared warrior, he should have lost his life when he lost his swordhand on the battlefield. But Arthur saved him, condemning Malgwyn to a half-life as a meagre scribe. But when a young woman is murdered and Arthur's reputation is threatened, Malgwyn is tasked with solving the mystery and safeguarding the stability of Arthur's newborn realm.
Source – many thanks to Corvus, an ARC was received in exchange for an honest review.