In what can only be called the “prequel” to Whyte’s Camulod Chronicles, Whyte recreates the world of Uther Pendragon, the King of the Cambrians. Far more Celt than Roman, Uther grows up patrician, yet with the mindset of a warrior and a hero. Ultimately, it is that perspective that will shape his choices and determine his fate.
Uther’s parents have set in motion the conflict which Uther feels throughout his life – that between his savage home of Tir Manha and the more Romanized Camulod. This conflict is nowhere more succinctly drawn than in the personalities of Uther and his closest friend and cousin, Merlyn Britannicus. Impulsive, aggressive and brutal, Uther personifies his homeland of Cambria while Merlyn, as good a soldier as he is, is also the more intellectual, introspective of the two. What brings the boys together as men, of course, is war – against the Saxons, and against Lot and his Cornish mercenaries. Enter Ygraine, Lot’s wife, and Arthur’s mother. The stage is set for the infant Arthur’s apprenticeship by Merlyn.
This is a huge, panoramic book in which Whyte draws each character in depth. Although at times slow going, it is rewarding reading. Nothing is touched on lightly or tangentially. A must read for those interested in Arthuriana.