King Arthur Trilogy

"Helen Hollick has it all. She tells a great story…" Bernard Cornwell

The UK edition of the trilogy - republished April 2023

(trailer depicts previous published editions)


The Kingmaking: Book One
Pendragon’s Banner: Book Two
Shadow of the King: Book Three

The Boy: Who became a Man
Who became a King: 
Who became a Legend...

There is no Merlin, no sword in the stone, and no Lancelot.
 Instead, the man who became a king 
and our most enduring legend

Foreword by Nejwa Knight Al-Ghoraibi

I’ve always been a fan of the Arthurian legend, to the point that I’ve chosen to write both my MA and PhD theses on the topic.  For the PhD, my search led me to Helen Hollick’s Pendragon trilogy.  Hollick has written a trilogy that tells the tale of women who do not fit quietly into their prescribed roles.  To do so, the author challenges earlier versions of the Arthurian myth first by developing female characterization, and secondly, by using a quasi-historical setting.  As such, Hollick’s retelling of the Arthurian narrative deliberately breaks away from women’s conventional roles, creating humanised versions of ancient characters who speak through their author’s voice.

In her narrative, Hollick creates complex, realistic women who defy the limitations of the narrow world available to them and strive to acquire and/or abuse personal power, in a rejection of their traditional passive stereotypes.  Even though Hollick has retained the broad strokes of the traditional legend, her narrative re-shapes maligned characters such as Gwenhwyfar and Morgaine; brings a minor character like Morgause to the forefront of the narrative; and creates an unprecedented Arthurian woman in Winifred.  Hollick’s retelling demonstrates a deliberate break from conventionally accepted roles of women, successfully giving them what she calls ‘a little more contemporary feel’.

In a second innovation, Hollick employs both history and realism to explore the inherent associations with violence by women in regard to twentieth-century concerns.  To that end, Hollick shifted the Arthurian narrative away from the fictionalized medieval setting, giving the Arthurian legend a new perspective in her post-Roman world: that of women who subvert the expected gender roles to serve their own ends.  She places the characters in her version of a Romano-British setting, providing a credible background for the harsh, violent lifestyle that is reflected in her series.  The author’s most unique element, however, is her portrayal of the concept of violence in a way that addresses concerns of the late twentieth century: violence against children and its subsequent effects on its victims.
Nejwa Knight Al-Ghoraibi

Book One
All knew the oath of allegiance: 
To you, lord, I give my sword and shield, my heart and soul. To you, my Lord Pendragon, I give my life, to command as you will.’

This is the tale of Arthur made flesh and bone. Of the shaping of the man who became the legendary king; a man with dreams, ambitions and human flaws. 
A man, a warlord, who united the collapsing province of post-Roman Britain, 
who held the heart of the love of his life, Gwenhwyfar 
- and who emerged as the most enduring hero of all time.

A different telling of the later Medieval tales. 
This is the story of King Arthur as it might have really happened...

978-1-7399371-2-6 The Kingmaking (Paperback)
978-1-7399371-3-3 The Kingmaking (e-book)


Book Two
459 A.D. Arthur has the kingdom he fought so hard to gain. But keeping it – and his family – safe, proves to be even harder. Two enemies threaten everything that is dear to him: 
Winifred, his vindictive first wife, and Morgause, priestess of the Mother and malevolent Queen of the North.

In this story of harsh battles, treasonous plots, and the intrigues of political upheaval during Britain's Dark Ages we do not have the familiar tales of Arthurian legend, but one much older, darker and deeper.

The story of a man with ambition, determination and human flaws. The story of King Arthur as it might have really happened.

978-1-7399371-0-2 Pendragon's Banner (Paperback)
978-1-7399371-1-9 Pendragon's Banner (e-book)

Book Three
500 AD.  Britain is at peace. But after the war cry – bitter the grave.

At long last, the peace King Arthur has fought for has settled over Britain, but he is a warrior, restless for battle. When his territory of Less Britain is under threat from barbarian raiding he  sails to Gaul, intending to be away for only a few months.

When he fails to return, and rumour spreads of his death, who will take his place as King of All Britain – and who will Gwenhwyfar, his wife,  take as a new husband?

Not accepting her widowhood she is determined to discover Arthur’s fate. But sometimes it takes more than courage to face the reality of truth...

 978-1-7392720-8-1 Shadow of the King (paperback)
978-1-7392720-9-8 Shadow of the King (e-book)

©Amani G

From all Three Books
~ ~ ~ 
House of Cunedda kin-eth-a
Enniaun - Teleri, his wife 
- Owain, Catwalaun: their sons
- Maelgwyn: son of Catwalaun
Osmail - Branwen, his wife 
Typiaunan: (deceased)
Meriaun, his son 
Ceridwen:  a niece - Iawn, her husband

House of Arthur Pendragon (Riothamus)
Winifred: King Vortigern's daughter, Arthur’s 1st wife 
- Cerdic: their son
Gwenhwyfar (Cymraes)Arthur's 2nd wife, only daughter of Cunedda
 - their sons:
Llacheu, Gwydre, Amr
 Archfedd, their daughter Natanlius, her husband
Morgaine: mother of Arthur's son, Medraut

House of Uthr Pendragon
Ygrainne: Uthr's wife
Ectha: Uthr's brother
- his sons: Cei, Bedwyr
Emrys: (Ambrosius Aurelianus) Uthr's brother
Cadwy, his son  Ragnall, Cadwy's wife
- Caninus, their son 
Morgause: Ygrainne's sister, Uthr's mistress
Morgaine: Morgause and Uthr's daughter
- Medraut, Morgaine's son by Arthur

House of King Vortigern:
Vortimer: his son by a 1st wife
Catigern: son by a 1st wife 
Rowena: 2nd wife, Hengest’s daughter
Vitolinus, their son 

House of Hengest
Horsa: Hengest’s brother
Aesc: Hengest's son 
Rowena: Hengest's daughter, 2nd wife to King Vortigern
Winifred: Rowena and Vortigern's daughter. Arthur's 1st wife
- Cerdic: Winifred and Arthur's son 
- Mathild: Cerdic's wife (previously Arthur's mistress)
 - Cynric: her son - King of West Saxons (Wessex)

Aegidius of Gaul
Syagrius: his son, King of Soissons 
Euric: King of the Visigoths
Odovacer: Germanic leader who overthrow the last Western Roman Emperor
Sidonius of Clermont Ferrand
Ecdicius: a nobleman

Other British
Hueil: eldest son of Caw, a Northern Lord 
Gildas: Hueil's brother
-  Cywyllog: their sister
Gwynllyw: sub-king of South Wales
Gorlois: Ygrainne's 1st husband
- Melwas and Amlawdd: his brothers
- Rhica: Amlawdd's son

Men of the Artoriani:
Geraint: Enid, his wife

Winta: client king of the Humbrenses
Icel: client king of Anglia (East Angles)
Aelle: client king of the South Saxons (Sussex)


Glastonbury Tor (Yns Witrin)

Abus: River Humber
Alclud: Dumbarton
Ambrosdun Prima: Ambersbury Banks (Wooded Ridge)
Ambrosdun Secunda Loughton Camp (Wooded Ridge)
Ambrosium: Amesbury, Wiltshire  
Anderida: Pevensey
Aquae Sulis: Bath
Badon: Liddington (Castle)
Bodotria: Firth of Forth
Caer Arfon: Caernarvon
Caer Cadan: Cadbury Castle
Caer Dydd: Cardiff
Caer Gloui: Gloucester
Caer Luel: Carlisle
Calleva: Silchester
Castellum Prima: Barbury (Castle)
Ceredigion: Area around Cardigan Bay
Cerdicesford/Camlann: Charford, River Avon
Cerdicesora: Christchurch Harbour
Chalk Hills: Chilterns
Cille’s Ham: Chillham, Kent
Cilurnum: Chesters (Hadrian’s Wall)
Corinium: Cirencester
Cornovii: Cornwall
Cunerio: River Kennet
Cwm Dolydd: Lee Valley
Deva: Chester
Dalriada: Area around Dumbarton
Din Dergel: Tintagel
Din Eidyn: Edinburgh
Dolydd: River Lea
Dun Pelidr: Traprain Law
Durnovaria: Dorchester
Durobrivae: Rochester
Durotrigia: Dorset
Durovernum: Canterbury (Canti Byrig)
Eboracum: York
Fortress 3rd Ambrosiani: Higham Hill, Walthamstow
(The) Great River: River Tweed
Great Wood: New Forest
Guoloph: Over Wallop, Hampshire
Gwy: River Wye
Hafren: River Severn
Hibernia: Ireland
Iceni Way: Ickneild Way
Less Britain: Brittany
Lindinis: Ilchester
Lindum Colonia: Lincoln
Llan Illtud Fawr: Llantwit Major
Londinium: London
Meduway: Medway
Môn: Anglesey
Mount of Frogs: Brent Knoll, Somerset
Muchinga: Mucking, Essex
Noviomagus: Chichester
Pengwern: Bury Walls, Shropshire
Place of Ravens: Dinas Bran
Radingas: Reading
Rutupiae: Richborough
Summer Land: Somerset
Tamesis: River Thames
Tava: Firth of Tay
Treanta: River Trent
Trimontium: Eildon near Melrose
Vectis: Isle of White
Venta Bulgarium: Winchester (Winifred’s Castre)
Vercovicium: Houseteads Fort, Hadrian’s Wall
Vicus: Wickham
Viroconium: Wroxeter
White Hills: Mendips (The Caves – Wookey Hole)
Winta Ingas Ham: Winteringham
Wooded Ridge: Epping Forest
Yns Witrin: Glastonbury Tor
Yr Wyddfa: Mount Snowdon

GAUL (Brittany/France)

Antessiodurum: Auxerre
Avaricum: Bourges
Augustonemtum: Clermont Ferrand  
Bononia: Boulogne  
Caesarodunum: Tours
Condivicnum: Nantes  
Dariorigum: Vannes 
Ligre: River Loire
Juliomagus: Angers  
Lutetia: Paris
Place of the Lady: Vézelay
Place of Stones: Carnac 
Rhenus: Rhine
Vicus Dolensis: Deols

Modern Vézelay

* * *

 "Is there anything left that the careful historian can say 
about 'King Arthur'?"

An essay, written in 1996 during the early part of a history degree course at Birkbeck College, University of London. It shows another aspect of the research required when preparing to write a historical novel.

Extra Mural Certificate:  A Distinction was awarded in 1999 on the basis of my essays. Extra Mural Diploma:  I graduated the course in 2000 with Merit.


* * *


"If only all historical fiction could be this good." Historical Novels Review

"...juggles a large cast of characters and a bloody, tangled plot with great skill. " Publishers Weekly

"Hollick's writing is one of the best I've come across - her descriptions are so vivid it seems as if there's a movie screen in front of you, playing out the scenes." Passages  to the Past

"Hollick adds her own unique twists and turns to the familiar mythology" Booklist

"Uniquely compelling... bound to have a lasting and resounding impact on Arthurian literature." Books Magazine

Amazon Readers' Comments

"Spell-binding, magnificent, gutsy, heartbreaking, raw with bloodshed, triumphant! Helen Hollick's Arthurian trilogy quickly draws you into the world of legend. No genteel fairytale story of Camelot, this! Gutsy, sweaty, and real. The Dark Ages brought vividly, to life! This is the legend I want to believe in."

"In this version of the King Arthur story, Arthur is a dark hero. He is young, selfish, ambitious and callous. He makes decisions based on his own desires with little thought to future consequences, making enemies left and right. Yet Ms. Hollick does a fabulous job of letting the reader glimpse just enough of his fears and vulnerabilities to keep him from being unlikeable, and to sway the reader to root for his success. I thoroughly enjoyed the portrayal of Gwenhwyfar. She is a worthy heroine. Full of heartpounding action, troubled heroes, wicked villains, violence, betrayal and, of course, true love, this well-written book is an intense read and a real page-turner."

"Helen Hollick brings her multi-layered, complex characters to life on the page. I especially enjoyed her depiction of the feisty, independent Gwenhwyfar - who is somewhat of a warrior in her own right. Ms. Hollick's interpretations of the Sacred Stone, The Lady of the Lake, Stonehenge, etc., are really original."

"Arthur is at times very unlikeable: no modern man in fancy dress here, but a man of his time - and that time was brutal. As for Gwenhwyfar... a brilliant heroine, at times strong, at times horribly vulnerable. Their relationship is compelling and feels true"

"What a story! ...I fell in love with Arthur from the start, a flesh and blood hero with flaws. [This] wonderful trilogy doesn't rely on unnecessary padding, the descriptions are heart rending. Here is a writer in the older style not ' jump on the bandwagon writing!' Read and enjoy..."

* * *

published by Taw River Press 2023