Bernard Cornwell is a master of storytelling in an age when content and plotting seems to have largely given way to style and feel. For those unfamiliar with his work then there is no finer place to start than the warlord trilogy. It tells of the life of King Arthur through a narrator, Derfel Cadarn, who was with him throughout his life.
This is, of course, a subject that has been covered ad nauseum, Cornwell however manages such a different take on the legend that he rises above the rest. Firstly, the books are simply a great read and to be enjoyed on a ‘page turner’ level. I personally believe a major factor in their success is that the sword and sorcery element, which runs throughout the Arthurian legends, is addressed fully but dealt with realistically. So called magical acts and amazing feats are explained in terms which we today understand as being perfectly rational but allowing us to understand how people of the time would be amazed. This gives a feeling of reality to the tale and coupled with the authors ever present eye for accurate historical detail, gives one the feeling of reading a true account rather than the usual fantasy tale.
It was a great disappointment when the recent King Arthur film was made that they did not base it on the Warlord Trilogy. Whilst a Lord of the Rings type trilogy of films would have been superb it was perhaps a little too much to hope for. The books could have been used to create a far superior film, an opportunity missed in fact.
The books are available on the secondhand market for next to nothing, start with The Winter King, you'll not be disappointed.
For further information and a bibliography of the authors other works, please see Bernard Cornwell