In 503 CE, some years after the Roman Legions have departed from Britain, Artorius, a Duke of the Legions, is sent north by Aurelian, the son of Ambrosius, the first man to declare himself King of Britain. Along the way Artorius rescues Princess Gwendaello of Dynevawr, a victim of Saxon treachery, who is now the hereditary Pendragon of Britain. Though Artorius is drawn to Gwendaello, the life of a soldier has never left him much time or inclination for romance. After several more tantalizing and inconclusive meetings with the Pendragon, Artorius is sent by Aurelian to fight at Badon Hill near Sarum, where a massive invasion of Saxons is taking place.
Artorius’ forces are outnumbered, and his cause seems hopeless. In three days of heavy fighting, his forces are winnowed to a scant thousand men against the Saxons’ fifty thousand. He knows he is doomed. But at the last moment Gwendaello and the entire Dynevawrii nation arrive, smashing the Saxon battle line and saving Artorius to live, marry Gwendaello, and beget the son whose son will set down this tale.
First published in 1930, this is the first novel of modern times to set the story of Arthur in a Dark Ages setting, though this version of the tale lacks many of the elements of the High Middle Ages myth. A good read, recommended for Arthurian fans, though archaic language — and attitudes toward women — abound.