Sign of the White Foal (Arthur of the Cymry trilogy)

Written by Chris Thorndycroft
Review by J. Lynn Else

480 A.D. Only moments after the Pendraig dies, his castle is overtaken by Gaels. Pendraig’s son Cadwallon has barely been named the new king when he’s sealed in his own dungeon. After a daring escape, Cadwallon and his family find sanctuary with his brother. But the Gaels are on the move. Cadwallon must quickly gather allies to march against the Gaels, led by a jealous cousin. Among the king’s allies is a young man named Arthur, the bastard and unacknowledged son of the Pendraig. Arthur will embark on a dangerous mission into enemy territory to root out the source of the Gauls’ power: the cauldron of rebirth. This legendary cauldron is guarded by the nine priestesses who are rumored to bring the dead back to life, Cauldron-born warriors. These unstoppable warriors will bring Cadwallon’s army to its knees if Arthur and his companions don’t reach the caldron in time.

It’s easy to tell that Thorndycroft knows this time period well. From manners of speech to landscape details, the historical richness is a delight. Editing-wise, I noticed missing quotation marks around consecutive paragraphs of dialogue, which is an indicator for readers that characters are still speaking in spite of paragraph breaks. Despite this, I found the book to be an enjoyable story packed with adventure and well-crafted characters. There’s a perfect blend of spiritual mystery and historical realism. The plot continues to rise in tension alongside character development. Imagery is vivid throughout, particularly during action scenes, and Thorndycroft infuses a strong sense of culture into the narrative. I would definitely read more from this author and look forward to the next book in the Arthur of the Cymry series. Recommended.