I'm afraid the first 80% of this book just couldn't hold my interest, but my tenacity of wanting to finish it and hoping upon hope something exciting or dramatic would happen towards the end kept me going.
Firstly, I was quite taken on the idea of stripping the Arthur story of all it's Merlin like magic, mystery and hocus-pocus and planting it firmly in the dark ages, that's what sold me on the book in the first place. However, I believe it could have been so much more.
Unfortunately, it was like reading a politically convoluted Who's Who of births, deaths and marriages and not necessarily in that order. If this was the dark ages shouldn't Arthur have been out there commanding men, in the thick of battle and stating his claim to kingship instead of being manipulated, controlled, nagged and henpecked by a scourge of scheming women? As for the women, oh dear the women, it was a constant, verbal litany of claws out, bitch fights and flying fur.
But jeez, where was the action?
Arthur for me was likeable in his own way, portrayed as a manwhore, but I could have slapped him for being such a wuss and letting himself be so out-witted by his women. Those two things didn't quite balance out for me. There wasn't one narrative or description of an epic battle or sword fight, just one pathetic stabbing and a few nondescript skirmishes for most of the book. It wasn't until about the last 20% that things started to get interesting and at least for me more representative of the dark ages with some action. This is still a little too long to wait for me personally and to hold my interest in a book of near on 500 pages. However, I felt it was still not in the same league or having the same scope as a good Bernard Cornwell or Manda Scott novel.
Maybe my expectations of an Arthur saga set in the dark ages is different to the view delivered in this telling which in my personal opinion was told more from a feminine intrigue point of view. I'm afraid that unless anyone can convince me otherwise that the successive two books in this trilogy are any different then I'll be passing I'm afraid.