cover image Enemy of God

Enemy of God

Bernard Cornwell. St. Martin's Press, $24.95 (416pp) ISBN 978-0-312-15523-0

Top-notch storyteller Cornwell continues where his acclaimed The Winter King left off, creating another compelling fictional history set in fifth-century Britain. Skillfully interweaving details from a myriad of Arthurian legends, he shows how practitioners of the old religion fought tooth and nail against the incursions of Christianity. Narrated by Arthur's friend Derfel Cadarn (a former slave raised by the wizard Merlin), this volume tells of Arthur's struggles to bind the warlords together and strengthen the throne that he holds for the beastly Mordred, Uther's legitimate heir. Beyond this immediate goal lies Arthur's mission to rid Britain of the Saxons and thus bring peace and order to the land. Meanwhile, Merlin seeks a magical cauldron, which, if used properly, will drive out Christianity but will also bring back the old gods and their chaotic ways. Caught between these two opposing forces, military and magic, Derfel is even more captivated by his love for Ceinwyn, the strong-minded princess Arthur has spurned for Guinevere. Writing with brio, Cornwell puts a fresh perspective on these oft-retold events. Realistically gory battles and doomed romantic exploits flavor the narrative, while the strong characterizations bring the men and women behind the legends to vivid life. Audio rights to Audio Renaissance. (Aug.)