I read the first book, The King’s Peace, in this superb series the Christmas before last – and it has taken far too long to track down this second book in this wonderful retelling of the Arthurian legend.
“The peace of the nation of Tir Tanagiri had been bitterly won. But after years of fighting against rival kingdoms and Jarnish invaders, the warrior Sulien ap Gwien and her lord, King Urdo, had finally won it, through great strength of arms – and greater strength of vision. For Sulien was inspired by Urdo’s dream of a kingdom ruled by justice, whose subjects all were equal under a single code of law. But where many see a hopeful new future for the land, others believe they sense the seeds of a new tyranny.”
Soon the land faces the terrible blight of civil war, and Sulien ap Gwien must take up arms again. But where once her enemies were barbarian invaders and unrepentent usurpers, now they are former comrades and loved ones. And as the conflict tears her country and her family apart, and life-long friends go to meet their destinies, Sulien must fight harder and harder to hold on to Urdo’s shining dream. Sulien is now older, though still a mighty warrior and now a Lord who has a settlement to protect and administer. Her son is now grown. This should be a time when the hardwon Peace carved out from years of bitter fighting and enforcement against the lawless banditry that had prevailed should be enjoyed. But Urdo has implacable enemies – and some of them are far closer than they should be…
Once again I was pulled into this tale of Sulien, the woman warrior, who has devoted her life to protecting the weak against the strong. Walton’s prodigious talent is once more evident as this tale of betrayal and scheming slides inexorably once more into warfare. Sulien, writing her memoirs years later, is devastated. I love her character as her sense of hurt rings off the page when Urdo’s attempts to broker a council to reach an agreement between the different factions fail and the country is braced once more for war. I was absolutely gripped even though I had a fairly good idea what happens. Walton’s version of the court of Camelot is layered with Sulien’s forthright views on the nobility along with conjecture and gossip. If you have ever read any of the Arthurian legends and become fascinated with that particular time, then this is a joy. I particularly like her take on Urdo’s wife, Elenn.
I finished this book with a lump in my throat as once again, Walton magnificently succeeds in creating a wonderful, magical time that has passed into our folklore and legends. And this retelling is right up there with the best of them.
Wow, I’ve never even heard of this series! I only know Jo Walton from her recent series. I love when you give a book 10 out of 10😁
I highly recommend this one, Tammy – especially if you have a soft spot for the Arthurian legends…
10 out of 10. That is high praise!
She is one of my alltime favourite authors – I think she is one of the finest writers of our time…
I do have a soft spot for Arthurian legends and I do also very much like this author. I shall track these down.
Oh, goody! I’d love to be able to chat about them with someone:))
You made it sound wonderful! I’ve read books about King Arthur and his knights since the 6th grade.
Then I think you’ll love this wonderful duology, Rae:)). It’s quite gritty in places, but she is a marvellous writer – I love her work.
I hadn’t seen this series, but it sounds good, Sarah. I keep meaning to read some books by Jo Walton. Maybe this series is the place to start.
If you love quality historical fiction, then this would be a good place to start, Jan:)
I remember the first book is on my TBR list… Sadly, it takes me more time to get around to it than it got you to read book 2.
Yes – she is one of the best writers of her generation.