Welcome to the Historical Fiction Online forums: a friendly place to discuss, review and discover historical fiction.
If this is your first visit, please be sure to check out the FAQ by clicking the link above.
You will have to register before you can post: click the register link above to proceed.
To start viewing posts, select the forum that you want to visit from the selection below.

Legendary Britain

Want to read novels featuring a particular person or subject? Ask for recommendations here!
User avatar
Nefret
Bibliomaniac
Posts: 2977
Joined: February 2009
Favourite HF book: Welsh Princes trilogy
Preferred HF: The Middle Ages (England), New Kingdom Egypt, Medieval France
Location: Temple of Isis

Legendary Britain

Post by Nefret » Wed December 12th, 2012, 2:15 am

I was wondering if there were any novels set in the 5th and 6th centuries. Not about King Arthur. Preferably about King Vortigen.
Into battle we ride with Gods by our side
We are strong and not afraid to die
We have an urge to kill and our lust for blood has to be fulfilled
WE´LL FIGHT TILL THE END! And send our enemies straight to Hell!
- "Into Battle"
{Ensiferum}

erechwydd
Reader
Posts: 104
Joined: November 2011
Location: Somerset
Contact:

Post by erechwydd » Wed December 12th, 2012, 4:48 pm

Hi Nefret,

You could try Kathleen Herbert's excellent Bride of the Spear, set in the 6th century and based on stories concerning the parents of St. Kentigern; it's also pretty well-rooted in historical fact and with a wonderful sense of place. Nigel Tranter wrote a novel on the same theme, called Druid Sacrifice, but I haven't read it so can't say how good it is. There's also Rosemary Sutcliff's The Shining Company, which is about the ill-fated expedition to Catraeth of the Gododdin tribe, as described in the 6th/7th century Brittonic poem 'Y Gododdin' - although I'm not sure that's necessarily 'legendary' in the same way that Arthur or Vortigern are.

I've searched for novels about Vortigern and haven't found any yet - although there's plenty of material for one. Presumably his villain status has just put people off. :rolleyes:
Last edited by erechwydd on Wed December 12th, 2012, 5:43 pm, edited 3 times in total.

User avatar
Lisa
Bibliophile
Posts: 1153
Joined: August 2012
Favourite HF book: Here Be Dragons by Sharon Kay Penman
Preferred HF: Any time period/location. Timeslip, usually prefer female POV. Also love Gothic melodrama.
Location: Northeast Scotland

Post by Lisa » Wed December 12th, 2012, 6:21 pm

[quote=""erechwydd""]Nigel Tranter wrote a novel on the same theme, called Druid Sacrifice, but I haven't read it so can't say how good it is. [/quote]

Druid Sacrifice is very good for getting a feel of travelling around 6th century Scotland - it reads like a geography lesson! The characterisation is not bad, not the best, and the story is a bit slow at times but memorable. The one thing that bothered me was the lack of certain details - there was a huge lack of descriptions regarding what everyone was wearing, eating, and so on, although again, not lacking at all in terms of landscape. It features King Arthur, however, and not Vortigern.

User avatar
Mythica
Bibliophile
Posts: 1095
Joined: November 2010
Preferred HF: European and American (mostly pre-20th century)
Location: Colorado
Contact:

Post by Mythica » Wed December 12th, 2012, 6:55 pm

I think the only ones I know about which include Vortigen also include Arthur, such as Helen Hollick's Pendragon series or The Last Legion by Valerio Massimo Manfredi.

annis
Bibliomaniac
Posts: 4585
Joined: August 2008

Post by annis » Thu December 13th, 2012, 1:16 am

Vortigern does make an appearance in another Rosemary Sutcliff novel, The Lantern Bearers, though he isn't the subject of the novel. Just trying to remember how much he shows up in Sword at Sunset- it's a long time since I read the story. I do remember that Vortigern's son and his Saxon wife Rowena make a significant appearance. As Mythica says, it's pretty difficult to separate Vortigern from Arthur. And I'm sure we've mentioned elsewhere Joan Wolf excellent trilogy set mostly in post-Roman Britain - Road to Avalon, Born of the Sun and Edge of the Light.

Then there's another of Bryher's haunting, beautifully written little novels, Ruan, which is a tour around sixth century Britain Cornwell, the Scillies, Ireland and Wales, not long after Arthur's death.
Last edited by annis on Thu December 13th, 2012, 2:53 am, edited 3 times in total.

User avatar
Lisa
Bibliophile
Posts: 1153
Joined: August 2012
Favourite HF book: Here Be Dragons by Sharon Kay Penman
Preferred HF: Any time period/location. Timeslip, usually prefer female POV. Also love Gothic melodrama.
Location: Northeast Scotland

Post by Lisa » Thu December 13th, 2012, 10:40 am

I've just remembered another novel set in that time period, A.D. 500: A Journey Through the Dark Isles of Britain and Ireland by Simon Young. I've no idea how much is based on legend or who features in it though, it's been sitting on my bookshelf in my TBR queue for about a year now.

erechwydd
Reader
Posts: 104
Joined: November 2011
Location: Somerset
Contact:

Post by erechwydd » Thu December 13th, 2012, 12:49 pm

I thought it was likely that Vortigern would appear in The Lantern Bearers, but I haven't read it yet, so thanks for pointing that out, Annis. I don't recall that Vortigern features in Sword at Sunset except as a name. Thanks for mentioning Ruan; that's one I've never come across before, and I was only wondering the other day what novels out there were set in the early medieval South West. Which incidentally reminds me, Anna Elliott's Twililght of Avalon series, featuring Tristan and Isolde, is another 5th/6th century set of reads.

Lady of Bennachie, thanks for your comments on Druid Sacrifice. I might give it a go some time. :)

Carla
Compulsive Reader
Posts: 965
Joined: August 2008
Contact:

Post by Carla » Thu December 13th, 2012, 1:31 pm

[quote=""annis""]Vortigern does make an appearance in another Rosemary Sutcliff novel, The Lantern Bearers, though he isn't the subject of the novel. Just trying to remember how much he shows up in Sword at Sunset- it's a long time since I read the story. I do remember that Vortigern's son and his Saxon wife Rowena make a significant appearance. As Mythica says, it's pretty difficult to separate Vortigern from Arthur. And I'm sure we've mentioned elsewhere Joan Wolf excellent trilogy set mostly in post-Roman Britain - Road to Avalon, Born of the Sun and Edge of the Light.

Then there's another of Bryher's haunting, beautifully written little novels, Ruan, which is a tour around sixth century Britain Cornwell, the Scillies, Ireland and Wales, not long after Arthur's death.[/quote]

Vortigern doesn't appear in Sword At Sunset, but he still has quite a presence as a sort of shadow looming from the fairly recent past. Some of his decisions are still playing out.

Vortigern does make an appearance in at least one of the Camulod Chronicles, by Jack Whyte. If I remember rightly, it's before Arthur's time so you get Vortigern but not Arthur. I can't immediately remember the title. Vortigern's still a villain, though, as I remember. I can't think of a novel that tells the story from Vortigern's side, which is a shame. If I ever get tempted back from the late sixth/seventh century, that's a story I would like to have a go at!
PATHS OF EXILE - love, war, honour and betrayal in Anglo-Saxon Northumbria
Editor's Choice, Historical Novels Review, August 2009
Now available as e-book on Amazon Kindleand in Kindle, Epub (Nook, Sony Reader), Palm and other formats on Smashwords
Website: http://www.carlanayland.org
Blog: http://carlanayland.blogspot.com

erechwydd
Reader
Posts: 104
Joined: November 2011
Location: Somerset
Contact:

Post by erechwydd » Thu December 13th, 2012, 2:19 pm

[quote=""Carla""]If I ever get tempted back from the late sixth/seventh century, that's a story I would like to have a go at![/quote]

I've been tempted, too, even sketched out a few scenes, but it turned out that despite writing from Vortigern's POV I'm no kinder to the poor guy than anyone else is! :rolleyes:

User avatar
Gabriele Campbell
Reader
Posts: 127
Joined: August 2008
Location: Germany
Contact:

Post by Gabriele Campbell » Thu December 13th, 2012, 8:28 pm

[quote=""Carla""] I can't think of a novel that tells the story from Vortigern's side, which is a shame. If I ever get tempted back from the late sixth/seventh century, that's a story I would like to have a go at![/quote]

That plotbunny is all yours. :)

*shooes it away. Go play with Carla, I have 4 Roman novels and the Fantasy Monster to tackle and I'm already - and probably in vain - trying to keep plotbunnies about Nechtansmere and the Otto the Great at bay* ;)

Post Reply

Return to “Any Good Books About . . .”