Longsword by David Pilling

Friday, 19 May 2017

Medraut - the cover!

I've just received the new cover for Leader of Battles (V): Medraut and couldn't wait to show it off. Here she be! This will adorn the Kindle and paperback versions of the book, which is steadily galloping towards completion - a mid to late summer release date looks most likely.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Leader of Battles (V) - Medraut

Following my book on the wars of Edward I, I have now started work on the fifth (and last) installment of the Leader of Battles, my effort to retell the story of King Arthur set in the bloody, dirty and generally grim world of 5th century Britain. This last book is subtitled Medraut and tells the story of the famous traitor, better known as Sir Mordred, who brought about the final destruction of Arthur's kingdom. Medraut or Mordred has been depicted in many previous versions of this very old story. Mary Stewart recast him as a sort of misunderstood hero, driven by fate, and there is an element of this in my version of the character. On screen he was memorably played by the late Robert Addie in John Boorman's 1981 film Excalibur; here Mordred was the bastard son of Arthur's unwitting incest with his half-sister, Morgana, and played as a perverted angel in golden armour/fetish gear.

Mordred owes much of his villainous reputation to later French and Breton romancers. In the early Welsh chronicles he isn't necessarily Arthur's enemy, and his exact relationship to the king is unclear. In some versions he is Arthur's bastard son, in others his nephew. The earliest known reference to him, from a 9th or 10th century entry in the Annales Cambriae (Annals of Wales), doesn't mention any blood-connection between the two men at all:

'The strife of Camlann, in which Arthur and Medraut perished, and there was plague in Britain and Ireland.'

From this all we can gather is that Arthur and Medraut were thought to have died together at the final battle or 'strife' of Camlann, implying some internal war among the Britons. At the same time a plague was raging in Britain and Ireland. This brief line in the AC forms the basis for my version of the downfall of Arthur, played out amid the mud, carnage and disease of his decaying kingdom...