Read The King's Peace by Jo Walton Online


Sulien ap Gwien was seventeen when the Jarnish raiders came. Had she been armed when they found her, she could have taken them all. As it was, it took six of them to subdue her. She will never forgive them.Thus begins her story—a story that takes her back to her family, with its ancient ties to the Vincan empire that once ruled in Tir Tanagiri, and forward to Caer Tanaga,Sulien ap Gwien was seventeen when the Jarnish raiders came. Had she been armed when they found her, she could have taken them all. As it was, it took six of them to subdue her. She will never forgive them.Thus begins her story—a story that takes her back to her family, with its ancient ties to the Vincan empire that once ruled in Tir Tanagiri, and forward to Caer Tanaga, where the greatest man of his time, King Urdo, struggles to bind together the squabbling nobles and petty princes into a unified force that will drive out the barbarian invader and restore the King’s Peace.King Urdo will change Sulien’s life. She will see him for what he is: the greatest hope the country has. And he will see her for what she is: the greatest warrior of her day. Together they will fight and suffer for an age of the world, for the things that the world always needs and which never last.Ringing with the clash of arms and the songs of its people, rich with high magic and everyday life, The King’s Peace begins an epic of great deeds and down-to-earth people, told in language with the strength and flexibility of sharpened steel....

Title : The King's Peace
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780312872298
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 416 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The King's Peace Reviews

  • Nikki
    2019-04-18 04:10

    It took me a while to get into The King's Peace -- I knew from the first few chapters that it would be a slow burn. Which is was, but I ended up loving it. It's an alternate history -- think like Guy Gavriel Kay's A Song for Arbonne, I suppose: the places and people are given different names, but all the same you can trace it back to real events in our history -- with touches of fantasy. It explores the Arthurian mythology, without ever using those names (e.g. Arthur is Urdo, Guinevere is Elenn), and it explores an alternate theology and the meeting of different peoples and gods. One warning -- the novel pretty much opens with a rape, and the issues that arise from that rape are revisited quite a few times. I didn't find it particularly graphic or upsetting, and I thought it was reasonably well-handled, but still, it is a theme.Anyway, it's narrated by an original character, Sulien. She is a female warrior who rises to lead Urdo's own troops. The story follows her as she joins the ranks and fights for the peace Urdo so desperately desires. It took me a while to become attached to the characters -- and I think constantly comparing them to Arthurian characters and trying to figure out who was who was a barrier to that -- but I came to believe in Urdo and his kingdom, his hopes and dreams. I believed in Sulien, very much, and in her awkward relationships with her family and her son.I enjoyed that Sulien was not a sexual being. Sex is part of her world, but she has no desire for it, and according to her statements at the beginning of the book, she's never coaxed into liking it by any man. She simply doesn't want to, and that's that.I'll be going straight onto The King's Name, at speed. The book ends at a most unfair time.

  • September
    2019-03-22 06:30

    After reading The Prize in the Game, I had really high hopes for Walton's debut novel. Perhaps, too high. I made it to page 286/416, before finally deciding to put the book down. The writing was wordy, at times, & clunky. The plot jumped from one war to the next and was full of very flat characters. Part way through, I searched online for a list of characters but to no avail. I couldn't keep the characters & his/her relationships straight. Perhaps, if they had been more fully developed, it wouldn't have been so difficult. Nonetheless, I started making my own list. To give you an idea, in a matter of 1-2 chapters, I came across over 75 characters with many more to come.I really wanted to like this book, but it really didn't engage me. I'm very glad I read The Prize in the Game first, as I would've never picked it up after reading this book.

  • Kaethe
    2019-04-03 08:23

    It does get rather dull: the book covers sixteen years or so, most of which are spent on horseback traveling between places named Caer Something that I could never keep straight. I liked the stuff about the horses, and how war horses differ from regular horses, and the breeding of horses, and how many horses it takes to support how many people, and so forth. If military logistics don't interest you, or horses, the book won't hold much appeal.As a feminist version of Arthurian saga there are things I quite liked about it: the integrated military, the fight training, the farm management (just typing this makes me feel like the dullest person ever). I really liked that Sulien ap Gwien is such a prickly character, who only gets along with other people in a bluff, military sort of way. She's very good at what she does, and she's smart enough to recognize a trap, and she's smart enough to stay well away from the politics and religion and relationships that don't appeal to her.But still, that's a hell of a long time to be slogging around a small rainy island waiting for things to happen. I'll read the next book just to see what she does with it, but I can't imagine these will ever be my favorite Walton books.Library copy

  • Glee
    2019-04-06 00:35

    I really, really liked this book. However, I am reluctant to recommend it to anyone because it was NOT an easy read. It is an alternative telling of the legend of King Arthur, complete with Welsh nomenclature, such as the term "caer" for identifying cities/town, e.g. Caer Sacramento, and the naming of people after their fathers with the "ap" form, e.g. Glee "ap Stanley". Plus the story breaks several conventions with the "traditional" Arthurian lengends. So for a long time reading the book, it felt just a little "off" as my brain tried to translate...e.g. "Isarnagan" is this world's term for Ireland, "Vincans" are Romans etc. It is both rich and dense at once -- somewhat like reading Lord of the Rings -- you just have to adapt to the nomenclature to get into it.That being said, it is a fascinating world, and describes the conflicts and efforts of King Urdo (Arthur) to reconcile two cultures -- early Christianity with a variety of well-established paganism, all of which are very rooted in the physical aspects of the land.If you are a sucker for Arthurian legend, early (roughly 6th century) English history, and the military aspects of early greathorse cavalaries, this is your book. If not, probably not your book. I am eagerly awaiting the second in this series to show up at Belle Coolidge for my checkout.....

  • Chris
    2019-03-26 08:17

    Before I read this, I wouldn't have believed such an original take on Arthur was possible. It's sort of an AU of Arthur (called Urdo in this) told by one of his knights, a woman - this is where the AU part comes in; the set-up of the world has women and men equal, one of the many things I liked about it. The world-building proceeds logically from some really interesting premises, which are sprinkled through the story with an impressively light touch for a new writer, as Walton was when she wrote this. I like the world's religion, which plays a big enough part in the story that I'd classify this as alternate theology, like Lois McMaster Bujold's Chalion books, as well as alternate history. I've put it in glbt because there are a couple of queer characters, but there's no major queer theme.

  • D.w.
    2019-04-04 00:29

    This was lousy. I don't say that because it took a woman's view. Read the excellent Paksarnarion books and you know that we can find women heroic figures. The reason that this was such tripe was manifold. And herein lie spoilers. I had this on my to purchase list for a long time and regret that I spent the money for it now. And that time of my life reading far too much of it. Firstly our hero is raped in the first few pages. That sets up the drama, right? Well her rape is such that she will forgive the rapist, forgive the rapist who also killed her brother when he tried to rescue her. Forgive a man who turns her off men and sex for ever. All of which conspire to make the hero unbelievable. Further what makes this a difficult read is that all the names of places are long winded and unfamiliar without a map reference, so you never know really where you are and where it is in relation to anywhere else. And then all the people. Each of whom needs to be named when they are on stage for a second. Why not just call so and so, a warrior. We'll never see him again. And those that show up twice, there are so many that you are confused. So a list of names and their relations to each other in the story could have sorted this out. But with a garbled mouthful to read past each time some minor character impacts the hero, getting lost amongst all the people for countless pages also occurs.I stuck with it well beyond 80% until I realized I didn't care. I had invested my life in a character that I could not care about. That had no redeeming humanity. All she cared about was her being a great warrior. She didn't care about anything else, and that was boring. The thing about our characters and making us want to empathize with them is to give us emotion to relate to. Sulien, the main character was so lacking, and her hooks to humanity so subtly left behind that I didn't care how it ended, and that there were more books to follow. I have much better fantasy to delve into then reading a series that is so bad. Or I can reread some much better fantasy then give any more hours to this.The King's Peace qualifies as a NEVER AGAIN.

  • Julia
    2019-04-08 07:15

    Many, many times I thought I’d put this book aside. I didn’t, I finished it; but it’s no Tooth and Claw or Among Others. I hadn't read anything about this book before reading it, unusually for me. I read it because it is by Jo Walton. It took me a ridiculously long time to figure out that this is a retelling of Arthurian legend, sort of. It's Arthurian legend with men and women doing the soldiering together. Where being gay or lesbian isn't remarkable. Where not marrying or not having children isn't the end of the world. The characters' names and places threw me, and once I’d read about the characters and places, I couldn’t retain them. Sulien ap Gwien is the main character, she’s 17 when the Jarnish raiders come, and before she can tell her mother that she has been gang-raped, she is sent off to get help from the king, King Urdo. She eventually becomes his greatest warrior, his Praefecto, in charge of his ala, his fighting cavalry. I wish there had been a glossary and a list of characters, with lineage, and a map in the copy I read. I’ve requested the next book in the series from the library, but I’m not sure I’ll read it. Except that every other book of Jo Walton’s I’ve loved, so maybe this was debut author-itis, or me. I requested this book from Interlibrary loan.

  • Susan
    2019-04-11 03:19

    Like Paula Volsky's books (especially Illusion) this is a fantasy take, in another world, of historical events. Kinda :-)This is the first book in this trilogy, with a gorgeous cover by Julie Bell. Oddly enough, though it's billed as a trilogy, the third book is actually a prequelJo Walton is the nicest lady, too... I met her at the World Fantasy Convention in Mesa couple years ago and she and I sat down and had a nice long chat. Every once in a while, my habit of picking books just because they have beautiful covers pays out!

  • Kendra
    2019-04-19 07:30

    I can agree with some of the other comments listed about the book. A really enjoyable and subtle Arthurian fantasy style, done in a whole other world. I also agree with some of the comments on it being clunky and jerky. It basically covers about 15 years in the first book. However, I personally did enjoy it. I liked the strong woman main character and actually the fairly well-balanced men and women equality through-out.

  • Grace Troxel
    2019-04-12 04:19

    This review originally appeared on my blog, Books Without Any Pictures: you ever have one of those books that you just know you’ll love, but they you start reading it and it seems to drag on and on without reason? I was incredibly excited to read The King’s Peace after reading Walton’s ethereal and introspective novel Among Others (seriously, if you haven’t read it, go do so, this instant!), about a child who discovers the worlds of classic science fiction and fantasy novels as she goes through hard times in her life. Unfortunately, The King’s Peace contains none of the magic of Among Others.The story itself is a retelling of the legend of King Arthur. Now, I’m a huge sucker for King Arthur stories. Let that be known. And to make it even more fascinating, it’s set in a world where men and women are equal and either can have strong and successful military careers. I have a thing for kickass female heroines, which is one more reason why I really ought to have loved this book.The protagonist, Sulien, is a young women whose village gets sacked. Bad things happen to her, and nothing is left to the imagination. Somehow she survives and makes it back to what’s left of her village, and she’s sent to ride for help. She encounters a skirmish, where she joins in the fighting and helps turn the tide. Turns out that Urdo, the High King (aka King Arthur) is leading the battle, and he makes Sulien an arminger. She begins a long career of being a badass and saving the kingdom.I had so many issues with this book that I don’t even know where to begin. I think my biggest problem with The King’s Peace is that I have a hard time identifying with Sulien. She never feels like a real person to me. The book is narrated in the passive voice, and Sulien’s character is flat. She cares about battles and not much else, but the battles are boring. I want to scribble in the margins, “Show, don’t tell!” Then there’s the fact that all of the names in the book are Welsh, and all are different enough from the names used in most versions of King Arthur stories that it’s really hard to keep track of everyone. This wouldn’t be a problem if we were given the opportunity to bond with any of the characters, but because of the issues with the passive voice and the general pacing, it feels like you’re reading a history textbook rather than a novel.The only scene in the book that had any sort of emotion or resonance at all was a weird scene in which a slightly older Sulien comes to meet her son whom she left at a monastery for nine years and never visited. It was hella awkward, because she didn’t know how to act around him, but even that felt forced. And the sad part is, Sulien’s character could have been so interesting. For one thing, she is asexual, which you don’t see very often in literature. Having a character who isn’t interested in romance can be refreshing if it’s done right. But instead, Sulien was so inacessible that you couldn’t really connect with her character. She has no depth, and seemed like a placeholder to tell the stories of other people, but those people weren’t fleshed out either.I made it about 45% of the way through the book (which is around 200 pages), at which point I just couldn’t take it anymore. The story had so much potential, and I should have loved it, but it was dry and boring and couldn’t hold my attention. The thought of finishing the book was torture, let alone continuing the series. It was even more disappointing coming from an author whom I’ve read and loved in the past, because I know she’s capable of so much more than this. :(Jo Walton is one of those people who can write so well that you will be filled with nostalgia, with tears, with the sheer joy of reading, so I wouldn’t let this review discourage you from trying some of her other titles. I’ve got several on my shelf that I’m excited to read.Verdict: Skip this one, and read one of her other novels instead.

  • Robert
    2019-04-19 06:14

    The King's Peace is a novel set in an alternative Britain, where the events leading to Arthurian myths are playing out. I'm not sure if I am the ideal reader: my knowledge of Arthurian stuff is limited to a few movies and TV shows. Then again, perhaps the book is aimed exactly at people who aren't Arthur fanatics - it transposes everything to a different world. I'm not sure why, but perhaps Jo Walton wanted creative freedom without getting historians and mythohistorians to come after her with torches and pitchforks.The novel is told from the perspective of a woman who, late in life (in her nineties), decides to write down a chronic of events, in a language no one speaks any more, and written in a world that has become illiterate. Being born the daughter of a minor king, the story starts with a raid of invaders, who rape her and kill her brother. She survives and searches the King of kings, to seek help for her family's kingdom.I could be wrong, but I think the basic transposing is...Tir Tanagiri = Britain / CamelotRomans = VincansUrdu = Uther Pendragon, or possibly Arthur.Jarnsmen = Anglo SaxonsWhite God = Jesus ChristPebble = Crucifixetc.We get a lady in the lake, an evil oracle, etc., too, so Arthurian motifs are certainly making an appearance.I found the book quite hard going: there are so, so, so many named characters. That is undoubtedly authentic (a noble person would have had to know, and know of, many many other nobles, and encounter many in their lifetime), but it makes reading the book quite difficult at times. The writing style is very matter-of-fact. Even the rape at the start, which is meant to be a kind of ultimate horror, is told almost as if it were reportage. In a way, the book feels more like a thought experiment than a novel. Our narrator is very loyal and a devout follower of Urdu, almost right from the moment she meets him. Urdu, meanwhile, is drawn as a kind of ideal leader, an almost-God in terms of his wisdom and leadership. The bits of the book that feel most like thought experiments are all about gender roles, open-mindedness, tolerance, and religion. We're presented with a world where women can lead armies, attitudes towards sex are relaxed and open-minded, gay people have little to fear. And we're presented with a version of how Christianity / the White God's creed spread through the island, like an infection of the minds and souls of people.I found some things fascinating. The Gods of the land are presented in a way which reminded me of the movie Princess Mononoke, and a lot of the pre-White-God beliefs of the people have that sort of atmosphere about them. This felt unusual to me - and interesting to read. There is much to appreciate about the book. It has been clearly written with much thought. A huge amount of research must have gone into it - it is complex and detailed and always convincing. The writing, while quite dry, works well enough. Our narrator is a likeable, admirable character, and I enjoyed her conceptually and in fact. (I was less keen on too-squaky-clean Urdu, and too-snarling-evil Murtho etc.)But, despite all that, it is too bogged down, too full of too many characters, and somewhat lacking in fun. It reads too much like a history textbook, and not enough like an adventure novel.

  • Derek
    2019-03-26 03:28

    If this hadn't been Walton's first novel, I'm not sure how I'd have felt about it. She sees fit, in her notes, to say "this is not our world, and this is not our history", but what it very clearly is is a retelling of the Arthurian legend with the names changed (and not all of them changed very much).Well, that's not a bad thing: I've read a lot of Arthurian retellings over the years and this is as good as most, and better than many. It just feels somehow dishonest to take one of the best known stories in British history and disguise it.She's also changed the sexes of many of the characters, to give a much better gender balance, which I have to agree is an improvement on the older versions.However I felt about disguising its sources, I still find it an amazingly good first novel. It's got flaws: the protagonist, Sulien ap Gwien, can invoke magic to heal near-fatal wounds, clean poisoned wells, or even summon the Lady of the Lake; and others can do the same, but there's actually almost no magic in this world. It's treated by the characters as a commonplace, while it's obvious that there's nothing common about it. That really needed to be explained better. There are hints that such powers could be tied to nobility, which would certainly limit them, except that Sulien's groom, Garah, who is certainly a commoner, had to teach Sulien the spell to clean the well.The very idea that an unmarried woman can only get pregnant if the gods will it so would have been laughable if it wasn't so creepy.  In any case, it was completely unnecessary to the plot.The tale is redeemed by the characters. Sure, they were created by such as Malory and Chretien de Troyes and Giraldus Cambrensis, but one of the things that's kept people retelling the story for more than a millenium is that there's always more room to put flesh on those bones, and the characters that Walton creates are wonderful.

  • Liz
    2019-03-23 05:33

    I see this is a novel that divides readers. For myself, I loved it from about ten pages in, and that didn't change until I put it down in tears.I've read a few Arthurian fantasies before, as well as various historical novels about the equivalent period, but this is the first that has really gripped me emotionally and intellectually to such an extent. I've spent the past few days engrossed in Sulien's world, and I want to dive straight into the next book (but I won't!) and continue my immersion.Sulien ap Gwien is trained as a warrior, but unarmed when ambushed and raped in the opening pages of the novel. (For me, this is the most triggery part of the novel, and it was done with enough sensitivity that I managed to keep reading, without feeling that Sulien's experience was glossed over.) This experience colours, but does not overwhelm, the rest of the book, as Sulien rides to seek the support of King Urdo, soon to become the High King of the island.Walton deftly flexes the Arthurian legend to fit a world in which women, too, are warriors, but in which they are also still women: they can bear children (or not); they can be raped, but this is not seen as an inevitable fact, as it (necessarily) is in many historical novels of the period. There are politics and sexual politics. The presence of many other interesting female characters with agency in the novel means that the evil character of the king's half-sister, sorceress and mother of Mordeth, is not quite so glaring.Sulien is the perfect fit for Lancelot, Arthur's "parfit knight", and the gender change does fascinating things to the dynamics of the story. No longer is Lancelot a remote, near-asexual knight who gazes uncomprehendingly upon the hapless Elaine, but a living, breathing woman with hopes and fears for herself and her family, who also happens to love fighting and be Urdo's/Arthur's most loyal knight.I'm going to be thinking about this one for a while. Highly recommended!

  • Ethan
    2019-04-09 07:29

    Part of me liked what Walton was trying to do here, but I couldn't get into it. I did appreciate the clash of cultures (thinly veiled Roman-Celtic-Anglo-Saxon interaction) even though my knowledge of Arthurian legend is pretty sparse. My biggest problems were that the main character wasn't very relatable, I couldn't keep track of the other characters, and it's hard to discern any over-arching plot. It reads kind of like this: "Sulien did this, and then she did that, and then she did another thing, and then she met So-and-so ap So-and-so and killed So-and-so Such-and-suchsson, and then she really loved being a warrior for Urdo, but such-and-such happened at Caer Blah Blah, and then she rode some horses and did some more stuff." Some people who are really into Arthurian legends and/or early middle ages British history might be engaged enough in the basic idea to overlook these problems, but for me the problems outweighed the interesting idea.

  • Millerbug
    2019-04-02 00:17

    This was a OK read. Better than some but not great. It had so many characters coming and going that I had a hard time keeping up. The war scenes were very well researched and were pretty good. I had a hard time relating to most of Walton's characters because they were so flat. Towards the end though, the characters were getting better (I automaticly liked Rigg, Elen and Conal when they were introduced). Some small bit of magic, lots of action and politics. A different fantasy novel, based on war. It's Walton's first novel, I hope that the rest of the series improves.

  • Bethany Joy
    2019-04-12 03:07

    Jo Walton has been my new favorite in the sci-fi and fantasy world recently, but this book just didn't do it for me. Let's face it, retelling Arthurian legends is nothing new in the fantasy world. Walton changes names and incorporates interesting elements of Welsh mythology, but it basically is the same old story. Even so, I probably would have finished it if it hadn't been for the main character. She seemed to be lifted straight from Elizabeth Moon's The Deed of Paksenarrion and though I didn't like those books I liked Paks better than her stunt double Sulien.

  • Bronwen
    2019-04-05 04:18

    A hard slog; takes itself too seriously. I believed in Tir Tanagiri all right, but it was like swimming through half-set jello to read. Jo Walton's recent novels of speculative fiction are excellent.

  • Susan
    2019-04-14 08:29

    Entertaining retelling of the King Arthur myth with excellent characterization and wonderful story telling.

  • VMom
    2019-04-13 03:10

    Not my cup of tea. I couldn't relate to Sulien; just couldn't care about the story.

  • Hannah
    2019-04-10 05:08

    An alternative take on the Arthurian mythos starring warrior woman. But very slow paced. So slow paced I was surprised to discover it was published in 2000. I'd have placed it at least a decade earlier. There is plenty of archaic, formal language and ancient naming conventions. It reminds me a little of The Shining Company by Rosemary Sutcliff (novel inspired by Y Gododdin).I appreciated a story where having women in combat was common and there were offhand references to random scout being female. I like having an honour based society without overt misogyny. There are also references to men sharing blankets, so minor characters are gay/bixexual but with a vast cast it's hard to keep track of them.The beginning is slightly cliched. There's a sexual assault early on but I guess it's not gratuitous as it has important plot resonance later on. Characters other than Sulien are thinly fleshed out. The narrative picks up pace near the end only to come to an abupt but dramatic conclusionI like the world-building; the mixture of history, mythology and imagination. Some of the parallells such as the White God for Christianity are obvious. Others, such as the myriad place names are harder to figure out. I imagine most of the action taking place in Wales or Cornwall.Who would I reccomend it to? If you love Jo Walton, Arthurian myths, and the purple prose of high fantasy, than this could be for you. If you want a more modern fast paced prose style than this is not for you.

  • Kivrin
    2019-04-10 04:18

    Just couldn't get into this one. Not sure why but I didn't get past the first few chapters.

  • Neeuqdrazil
    2019-03-27 05:16

    This is ok, but I didn't love it. It's a re-telling of the Arthurian legend, but not my favourite retelling.

  • Cassandra
    2019-03-30 03:12

    I read this when it first came out, and not again until just now. I remembered liking it, in a mild way, and was not prepared for how good it is. It does not rise to art, but it is a good novel, a good story, a very well-built and interesting world with interesting characters who are not perfect nor too flawed to be likeable. It is a book I will be glad to give my daughter when she is old enough for the darker moments and ready to talk about the complexities.One thing I did think is that there is a way the world is depicted, in retrospective stories like this, (view spoiler)[ where there is a moment in which a relationship is broken and the moment is visible and concrete; 'from that moment he hated me' or some such. I do not think Walton actually does it so; the way she shows the growing problems in the friendship between Sulien and Marchel, for example, is more subtle and of course very conditioned by Sulien's social blindnesses. But reading this I thought of all the books like that I had read, in which the present-day narrator tells the past and there is some moment in which a mistake is made and then the relationship is broken, and I wonder at it, because of course in life it is not so much like that, at least not with people of good faith. I think the place I thought it the most was with Aurien, when Sulien leaves the funeral to go see to her duties and Aurien is furious, it is shown somewhat as the moment that cannot be forgiven, but not too strongly, and again, through Sulien, who does not understand people very well. But for me that sort of clean past, where relationships are pieces upon the board and one may say 'This moment broke, this moment mended' is something that keeps the work from art, because it is not life, although it is most certainly a true way that real people tell stories about their lives.(hide spoiler)]

  • Becky
    2019-04-10 01:18

    3.5 for a delightful but uneven read.The King's Peace is a retelling of Arthurian legend that blends the historical and the mythic in a very pleasing way. I don't read much Arthurian fiction, but I feel this book is a meaningful contribution to a crowded field. Walton sets her story in an imagined world but performs impressive slight of hand to infuse a setting inspired by post-Roman Britain with the elements we expect from Arthurian legend—castles, knights, magic, and Arthur as ethical monarch. As a pseudo-historical novel it's totally engaging, full of drama and historical interest. Cast of thousands, yes, but I didn't mind getting a little confused and disoriented along the way. It's not like there's a test at the end.This book also showcases Walton's mastery of first-person perspective. Sulien is a gift of a character and her voice is clear and strong as the beautiful and elegiac portrait on the cover.However, a little more than halfway through, this book suffers from a sneak attack by the First Novel Pacing Monster. Part One had some overlong conversations, but Part Two devolves into protracted setup for the rest of the trilogy and the narrative urgency suffers as a result.Alas, the library doesn't have the rest of the series so I'm not sure if I'll get around to finishing it. I do have scattered Thoughts about how Walton deals with sexual agency and sexual assault in this book (mostly positive, but some reservations), but without finishing the series I'm going to reserve my judgment.

  • Kelley Ceccato
    2019-04-16 03:14

    I will agree with the reviewers who say that the novel's treatment of rape is problematic -- first, because while it's refreshing to spend time with a female protagonist who has absolutely no interest in sex, it's regrettable to see her asexuality portrayed as a pathology (result of rape) rather than a personality trait; second, because generally rapists don't "learn better" and redeem themselves. This I disliked. In addition, the writing style took a lot of getting used to. The prose is dry almost to the point of being academic, and it made for slow reading. It's hard for me to believe this was written by the author of the breezy Tooth and Claw.All that being said, by the end I was glad I'd taken the trouble with it. I found Sulien a protagonist well worth getting to know, a woman with a strong sense of honor and integrity. I loved seeing the world and the other characters in it through her eyes. I also appreciated the abundance of both male and female characters playing a variety of female roles. Unlike a lot of warrior women who stride through the pages of today's fantasy novels, Sulien doesn't hold "girly girls" in contempt; she respects the very girly Queen Elenn, for instance. I suspect that Sulien would get along quite well with Starhawk, another favorite heroine of mine (The Ladies of Mandrigyn et. seq.)

  • Margaret
    2019-03-31 01:08

    This and its sequel, The King's Name, are an excellent reworking of the Matter of Britain (i.e., King Arthur and all that) set in a different world from ours. I use the word "reworking" rather than "retelling" simply because the books aren't a straight retelling of the Arthurian legends; the world is different (largely in that magic and the gods are real), and although there are certainly parallels, the events and characters are sufficiently different to make this more than a retelling. The narrator is Sulien ap Gwien, the king's greatest warrior; I suppose you could say that she is analogous to Lancelot in that role, but certainly not in any other - she is her own character, not a reflection of a character from the legend as it's usually told. (In fact, another character in the novel, who can see into alternate universes, tells her that she is unique and has no "shadows" in other worlds.) Her narrative voice is distinctive and completely convincing as that of a practical, honorable, military woman, if a bit dry and unemotional.I had a hard time getting into the books at first, and I'm not sure why. Perhaps it was the amount of time spent in describing battles, which has never been my cup of tea. I ended up liking them very much, though.

  • Tine
    2019-04-11 06:34

    Dit is echt zo'n boek waarvan je meer en meer begint te genieten naarmate je verder leest. De manier van schrijven past op de een of andere manier ook heel goed bij de toon van het verhaal. Daarnaast heb ik ook een paar keer moeten lachen (luidop!) en de kameraadschap in dit boek is werkelijk zalig. Ook kon ik de sporadische vooruitblikken wel appreciëren (de hoofdpersoon blikt als oude vrouw terug op haar leven). Het was wel moeilijk de vele plaatsen en personages bij te houden, afgezien van de belangrijkste. Daardoor begreep ik weliswaar een paar opmerkingen niet, maar ik heb ook niet het gevoel dat ik veel heb gemist. Een kaart en/of dramatis personae zou uiteraard wel een grote hulp zijn geweest. Dit was mijn eerste Arthuriaanse fantasyroman, als ik het goed heb, en aan de ene kant keek ik er heel erg naar uit dit boek te lezen, maar aan de andere kant was ik ook wel bang dat ik niet van het verhaal zou kunnen genieten. Dat was dus nergens voor nodig! Ik heb wel begrepen dat dit een heel erg vrije / originele herwerking is - met o.a. min of meer gelijkheid tussen mannen en vrouwen - dus ik zal waarschijnlijk nog een tijdje schuin naar Nevelen van Avalon loeren voordat ik de moed vat om dáár eens in te beginnen.

  • Margo R
    2019-04-07 04:11

    I am slowly but surely making my way through all of Jo Walton's books, because that is the kind of person that I am. The King's Peace was a strange mix; I totally get the criticism that people have written already about how nothing happens. Because often, it FEELS like nothing is happening. But at the same time, I couldn't stop reading the entire time I had the book because I needed to know WHAT HAPPENED NEXT. An interesting paradox.I think that this book really drove home the way that Walton's writing works: she takes a setting (in this case medival/dark ages... Wales? England?) and adds one twist (BUT WHAT IF FOR REAL MAGIC?!? Or at least active participation by multiple gods. It's unclear if the first is because of the last.) and then runs with it. It's the whole ambience of Everything Is Completely Normal, and What If This Were Completely Normal Too that makes me so engaged in her books.It was also cool because The King's Peace has total gender parity, and explores what that looks like in a medival setting where not all the surrounding people have that going on. The interactions between the Jarnish (Scandinavians? Scotts?) and the people of Tir Taragani are super interesting to watch. Basically: this book, so good. But good in the way where I love it to peices but I get why other people don't. A cilantro/black liquorish kind of delicious.

  • Jody
    2019-04-10 05:06

    Good Lord, she is a wonderful writer! I'm 80-something pages in and just reveling in the sheer deliciousness of the words. This is some first novel - and having read her most recent I'm not surprised. Despite the topic, it's not all breathless action; Walton isn't the one you turn to for that. But for gorgeously crafted immersion? Oh yes please! And as for finding such new depths in the Arthurian arc? Wowsers. Read it! OK, now I've finished it. It took me a long time, because sometimes it was delicious and sometimes it was just slogging along. It has the unevenness of a first novel, before the author learns pacing, and apparently lacking an editor who would insist on trimming where needed. I'm also not a huge Arthurian, so that didn't pull me so much as sadden me. All this said, her mining the old Arthur saga for this fresh other-universe take on the kernels of it is really brilliant. Her singular use of religion and magic is the sort of subtle, matter of fastness I treasure from Jo Walton, and I can't get enough of it...and wish there were more of it in here. What can I say but that when she's good she's very very VERY good. I think I will read the sequel, because Sulien is dear to me now, but I think....I think I need a break first.

  • Celia
    2019-04-07 00:25

    This is a very subtly Arthurian fantasy - by which I mean it has some ties to the Arthurian legend, but is mostly just influenced by it. It's an epic saga of an imagined British history, and I think unless you were captured by the main character it would be a bit of a chore. But Sulien, the main character, is wonderful - from the beginning of the book where she is brutally raped by raiders, to her progression to a warrier for King Urdo (our Arthur-equivalent), fighting to maintain the great peace that Urdo is trying to create between all the warring tribes. There's lots of battles and kings and feuds, religious conflict and a touch of sorcery (hence the fantasy designation). The book begins with several pages of lists of characters, which is always a bit intimidating, and personally I rarely read them. (If you have to read them to comprehend the book, in my opinion the book isn't really doing its job of telling the story). But Sulien is such a fantastic character, a warrier who descends into a screaming battle rage (or so others tell her, her descriptions of battle are quite meditative) and her dedication to Urdo seems so reasonable, we feel dedicated to Urdo as well, longing for him to be successful in creating his peace.