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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Book Review and ARC Giveaway: In Winter's Shadow by Gillian Bradsaw

The age old story of the King Arthur and Guenevere legend - love and betrayal - told from a new perspective.
by Gillian Bradshaw
  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark (October 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1402240740
  • ISBN-13: 978-1402240744
     Genre: Historical Fiction
     My Rating: 4.25 of 5.0
Book Description
Publication Date: October 1, 2011
Praise for Gillian Bradshaw:

"A welcome new light on the horizon of popular Arthurian legend." – Book list

Vows broken. . .
Friendships betrayed. . .
The fate of heroes finally revealed. . .

As powerful enemies attack the throne from inside the kingdom, Arthur, his queen, and his greatest warrior Gwalchmai will be put to the ultimate test. Never faltering in her loyalty to the king, Gwynhwyfar has stood at Arthur's side through rebellion and war. But one desperate decision could cost her all they've built. With the kingdom crumbling around them, following the Queen's heart could be the greatest threat of all. ..

Praise for Bradshaw's Hawk of May series
"Compelling ... splendid ... vibrant ... exhilarating ...a novel that seduces us into accepting sorcery and sanctity in King Arthur's England." – New York Times Book Review

"Will appeal to those who have enjoyed Tolkien's works." – Library Journal

What readers are saying:

"One of the most emotionally compelling novel retellings of this classic story."

"If you like this legend-this is a must read. This collection will never leave my bookshelf!"

"The author has a gift for creating ... beautiful, heart-stirring prose."
Review: This is a heart-achingly poignant read.
This is the tale of Arthur’s reign from the view of Gwynhwyfar. I had a slow time getting started on this as I usually avoid works that include adultery. However, I love King Arthur stories.

Once I got started the story moved along well. Many stories of Camelot present a picture of peace and well being.  That is not this tale. This one is much more realistic. This book shows the struggles of gathering men and supplies for continuous warfare. There are constant negotiations with neighboring kings to keep and gain allies or to face them as enemies in battle.  Gwynhwyfar is a great help to Arthur as a counselor behind the scenes and a great manager of supplies. "The family" love her for her beauty, strength, kindness and wisdom.

There was a time of unity when the knights in "the family” worked together and supported each other. But that spirit was fractured when Medraut came to live at Camlaan. He is the trouble making son of Morgawse and brother of the honorable Gwalchmai. Medraut starts rumors to divide the family: lies against Gwalchmai, Arthur and Gwynhwyfar.   Arthur is at a loss of what to do as he knows that Medraut could create serious difficulties with his rumors, especially if he reveals the truth of his incestuous birth.

Medraut succeeds in creating strife.  Gwynhwyfar sees her husband’s fatigue after 30 years of fighting.  She seeks to comfort and be comforted by Arthur but he has no strength or joy left. Their lives are filled with the deceit, trouble, division and anguish that Medraut stirs up. Camlann is only a shadow of the stronghold it used to be and it is facing the storm that would destroy it.  And that destruction will come from within but is it caused by Medraut or by the betrayal of Gwynhwyfar and King Arthur’s closest friend?

As events tumble into further division Gwalchmai seeks revenge for a wrong that he will not accept as an accident created by Medraut’s actions. As he wearily, but stubbornly, seeks vengeance he philosophizes that “even the best intentions of those devoted to Light can create Darkness.”

This story of Gwynhwyfar can be summed up by these two quotes:
“I was Empress and could not be a human woman.”
“My memories are long....What remains, then, for all that blood and all that sorrow?
The writing is evocative and quite intense.  There is darkness mixed with bitter sadness and the realistic futility of war. Even thinking back on the story evokes a pain in my heart. If you love Arthurian legend and can handle the bitter sweetness of the downfall of “the family” you will want to read this version.

This is the third book in the trilogy. I reviewed the middle book, Kingdom of Summer. The first two books, Hawk in May and Kingdom of Summer tell Gwalchmai's story. I like his strong character even though he is tragic too. It would not be necessary to read the first two to read and appreciate the third book, but they do give a bigger picture of Medraut's twisted upbringing and Gwalchmai's honorable determinations.

Thank you to Sourcebooks for this book to read and review.

1. Your choice: Visit the author's website and tell me something of interest you found there;
    OR tell me if you have a favorite King Arthur story;
    OR tell me your favorite King Arthur character - mine was always Merlin who is not part of these stories.
This is required for entry.

2.  For an extra entry, become a follower or tell me if you are already a follower.

3. For two entries, blog, facebook, tweet (any of those networks!) about this giveaway and tell me where you did.

It isn't necessary to use separate entries unless you want them in different chronological order.
(Four total entries possible.)

* This contest is only open to residents of US and Canada.
* This contest will close 10 PM (Central) on December 9, 2011.
The winner will be randomly selected from all entries.
Winners will have 72 hours to respond by email or the winners form linked in the announcement.


  1. I've always loved Lancelot. Who couldn't love a valiant knight.


  2. I'm a follower


  3. I like that the author's historical fiction is set in many exotic places such as ancient Rome and the Mediterranean.


  4. GFC follower

  5. I like the "In progress" portion of the author's website-love a good sense of humor. GFC Krystal Larson edysicecreamlover18@gmailDOTcom

  6. I like Merlin and King Arthur.
    mamabunny13 at gmail dot com

  7. I love this book! Actually, I love all of Gillian Bradshaw's historical novels; she is one of my favorite authors and I have read most of her books multiple times. :)

    My favorite Arthurian character has always been Gawain.

    Old GFC follower - Lieder Madchen



  8. My favourite King Arthur story has always been The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley.

    old GFC follower-Sarah

  9. Thanks for the giveaway! My favorite story is the love triangle between King Arthur, Queen Quinevere and Sir Lancelot.

    +1 Already follow via GFC (Bornajhawk).
    +1 Tweeted:!/MamaHendo3/status/142995925986582528
    +1 Posted on FB:


  10. This book sounds amazing! I hate to admit that I am only familiar with the Arthur legends through the old Monty Python and the Holy Grail classic movie. It is so funny. I like Gawain. I need to read this book so I know more than a spoof. Thanks for the giveaway. I am now a follower.

  11. At the University of Michigan she did joint honors in English and Classics, and won the Hopwood Award for Fiction, the Bain-Swigett Prize for poetry in traditional form, and the Phillips Prize for Classical Greek.

    tiramisu392 (at)


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