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  • The Winter King

  • The Warlord Chronicles, Book 1
  • By: Bernard Cornwell
  • Narrated by: Jonathan Keeble
  • Length: 19 hrs and 55 mins
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (1,515 ratings)

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The Winter King cover art

The Winter King

By: Bernard Cornwell
Narrated by: Jonathan Keeble
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Summary

FROM THE NO. 1 BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF WAR LORD COMES AN EPIC RETELLING OF THE ARTHURIAN LEGEND

In the Dark Ages, a legendary warrior arises to unite a divided land . . .

_________

Uther, the High King of Britain, is dead.

His only heir is the infant Mordred. Yet each of the country's lesser kings seek to claim the crown for themselves.

While they squabble and spoil for war, a host of Saxon armies gather, preparing for invasion.

But no one has counted on the fearsome warlord Arthur.

Handed power by Merlin and pursuing a doomed romance with the beautiful Guinevere, Arthur knows he will struggle to unite the country – let alone hold back the Saxon enemy at the gates.

Yet destiny awaits him . . .

From the epic and bestselling author who has gripped millions.

©1995 Bernard Cornwell (P)2014 HarperCollins Publishers Limited

What listeners say about The Winter King

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Simply Brilliant

Would you listen to The Winter King again? Why?

This is the kind of story you can enjoy over and over again. The Winter King boasts an engrossing, complex and compelling storyline rarely found in stories based on the Arthurian legends, which tend toward the tradition of chivalry, knights, round tables and simple good/evil battles against Mordred, Oberon and Morgan Le Fay. Bernard Cornwell has done a masterful job in The Warlord Chronicles of creating an Arthur that is believable, an Arthur desperately trying to hold post-Roman Britain together when the stabilising forces of the empire have gone and the chaotic forces of inter-kingdom warfare, religious conflict and Saxon invasions have come. This brilliant story is told by a brilliant narrator, Jonathan Keeble, whose voice and performance are absolutely perfect for this dark historical fantasy.

What did you like best about this story?

Perhaps the story's strongest aspect is Bernard Cornwell's careful maintenance of historical realism. It is easy to imagine a Britain in the grip of the early Dark Ages, unsure of itself and vulnerable in the aftermath of the departure of the Roman legions and the arrival of hordes of Saxons. It is all the more moving when you realise that history holds the eventual end of the story; we know that the Saxons succeeded in conquering much of Britain, and it doesn't matter how hard Arthur fights. The Saxons will win in the end.

Which character – as performed by Jonathan Keeble – was your favourite?

Jonathan Keeble's performances of all the characters in this audiobook are brilliant - he is the perfect narrator for this story. But perhaps his greatest success is in his portrayal of Arthur himself. The voice that Keeble uses for Arthur is only slightly different than the voice which he uses to portray the main character, Derfel, but it is enough. A slight tone in Arthur's voice immediately identifies him and carries across his humanity, compassion, ambition and altruism all at the same time.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

The only downside to this audiobook is its sheer length. At almost 20 hours, it is impossible to listen to the whole thing in one sitting - unless you are possessed of resolute determination, an iron will, and a lack of need for sleep. I would have liked to listen to all 20 hours without a break, as I found that when I had to turn it off to sleep and resumed it in the morning the story became a little disjointed. However, this is only a minor complaint and I would much rather have a long audiobook that takes multiple sittings than a short one that's over too soon.

Any additional comments?

This is an excellent example of historical fiction and of a legend being historicised. I cannot recommend this audiobook highly enough and eagerly await next month's credit so I can download the next instalment in the trilogy.

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23 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great book, not so great narration

As far as the story goes, it's fantastic! This is one of my favourite books, and I've read it many times before. This trilogy is Cornwell's best work in my opinion. I did have some issues with the narration though...
To be clear, Jonathan Keeble has a terrific voice and gives a strong performance, but this book is choc full of Welsh words that are so consistently miss pronounced that it occasionally drove me, a welshman, to distraction! This complaint is somewhat specific to myself, but I also didn't like the voice he gave to Nimue (who's name is also mispronounced), which at times was so cartoonishly Irish that it weakened the character's gravitas.
I'd suggest trying an alternative reading of this great book if any of that sounds like an issue to you, but if not, this is a great listen!

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11 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great story, poor pronunciation

I have previously heard an abridged audiobook of this story, and it is a great story. Of course, there are many 'versions' of the Arthurian story available, and since there is little or no provable facts concerning Arthur, one is free to accept any one which appeals, or refuse them all. at the end of the day, we are dealing with a legendary warlord. I think that in post Roman Britain, he was the sort of figure Britain was desperate for, and was the subject of hope and desire, rather than a flesh and blood character.
This version of the Bernard Cornwell story is very good indeed, but in this recording, the pronunciation of many of the words, ( because I suspect, of their Welsh or Cornish origins), are wrong. however, for all that, it is quite an acceptable effort, and I found that after an hour or so, my brain was making the necessary adjustments, and so I ended up enjoying the production immensely. This complete edition is way superior to the abridged version. give it a go, - you owe it to yourself!

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10 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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Good listen but

Been many years since I read the book and I did enjoy the audio book but for one thing the terrible impersonation of the Irish accents perhaps this is just cause I am from the blessed isle but it really did spoil an otherwise good telling of a tale

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8 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Classic

Would you listen to The Winter King again? Why?

The narrator was entertaining and brought the story - one of my favourites - to life.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Winter King?

The part where Gundlias comes to the Tor....

What does Jonathan Keeble bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

I really liked his various voices for the male characters. The female characters were sometimes OTT and verging on the Monty Python, Life of Brian "He's not a naughty boy" kind of thing but, overall, Keeble was an excellent narrator.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I laughed out loud a few times, thanks to both Cornwell's understated writing and Keeble's acting.

Any additional comments?

I read this series when it first came out and thought the audiobook would be a good way to go through it again without actually reading it. I wasn't disappointed and look forward to listening to the next two books with my membership credits.

Steven A. McKay, author of WOLF'S HEAD.

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7 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Great story but let down by pronunciation of names

This is a good story and generally well told but the Welsh names are poorly managed. A phoentic guide would have made all the difference.

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5 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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The start of a great trilogy

Any additional comments?

Another excellent series by Bernard Cornwell. In my opinion this is his second best series behind The Saxon Stories. His portrayal of magic is excellent such that it becomes believable in a historical fiction setting, rather than fantasy where magic usually belongs.

As always with Cornwell, the battles are marvelously described, seeming to put you in the middle of the shield wall with the protagonist, Derfel.

The narration is superb, Jonathan Keeble has a powerful orators voice and is able to do a wide variety of accents so you immediately know the character who is speaking.

If you enjoy historical fiction, fantasy or other novels by Bernard Cornwell you should definitely try this one.

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5 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

As good an audio book as it is an epic read!!

I read this year's ago and loved it for it's different, more realistic, take on a legend. To listen to it again just reaffirms this awesome story!! I wish they would make it into a series

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3 people found this helpful

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Great story , awful pronunciation

it's a great tale and we'll worth a listen, but the narrators murder of the Welsh place names such as Caer Cadarn really grates, all it needed was a little research and a little respect. It really isn't asking a great deal

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2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

another excellent novel by B Cornwell

A little hard to get to grips with early on but what an exciting listen as the story unfolded.
Having listened to the remaining books in this series, I take back the first 11 words of my earlier comments.This is an excellent series. Couldn't stop listening to Excalibur.

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1 person found this helpful