M. K. Hume's The Bloody Cup will be published by Atria Books (Simon & Schuster) in February 2014 (was originally published by Headline in 2010). It's the third novel of The King Arthur Trilogy.
Information about M. K. Hume:
M. K. Hume is a retired academic. She received her M.A. and Ph.D. in Arthurian literature and has fulfilled her life-long dream of writing novels about the legend of King Arthur and Merlin. She currently lives in Australia with her husband.
Click here to visit the author's official website.
Information about The Bloody Cup:
From the author of The Merlin Prophecy, the historical trilogy that "appeals to those who thrill to Game of Thrones" (Kirkus Reviews) — the third installment in the epic, action-packed story of King Arthur.
Celtic Britain is on the brink of collapse, and the kingdom's bloodiest days are upon it. For many years, the people of Briton have enjoyed peace and prosperity under the reign of King Arthur. He has ruled with dignity, honor, and humility.
Arthur is now weakening with age, however, and the seeds of discontent are being sown.
Seeking to cleanse the land of Christian belief, dissenters need a symbol with which to legitimize their pagan claim and gather malcontents together into a cohesive weapon. They seize upon the ancient cup of Bishop Lucius of Glastonbury as a way of fragmenting Arthur's hard-earned kingdom.
Soon it emerges that the ultimate threat to Arthur's rule lies far closer to home; he is betrayed by his own kin. Celt will slay Celt and the river will run with blood. Will all be lost, or can King Arthur conquer the mounting forces before it's too late?
A REVIEW OF M. K. HUME'S THE BLOODY CUP
M. K. Hume's The Bloody Cup is the culmination of The King Arthur Trilogy. Everything that has happened before has been almost like a prelude to the happenings in this novel. The Blood Cup ends the epic story of King Arthur in a brilliant way. It's powerful story that will be of interest to readers of historical fiction and speculative fiction. I think that everybody who likes good historical fiction will find this novel interesting.
Now that I've read the whole trilogy I can say that M. K. Hume has created a truly original and compelling vision of King Arthur, his life, his family and his deeds. There are several novels about King Arthur, but M. K. Hume's retelling of this famous legend is something different, because she stays true to her own vision.
The King Arthur Trilogy is a perfect example of good storytelling that tells a huge story arc from the humble beginning to the tragic end. The author has a gift for storytelling, because she has created a complex story arc that will fascinate, horrify and surprise the readers. Parts of the story arc were revealed in the two previous novels, but now the author gets to show how things end and how bitter and tragic the ending is for certain characters.
Here's information about the story:
- The first novel, Dragon's Child, told how King Arthur rose to power. The second novel, Warrior of the West, told about King Arthur's battle against the saxons and his doomed marriage to Wenhaver. This novel, The Bloody Cup, tells about King Arthur's later days and death.
- At the beginning of the novel traitors are preparing to take action so that Artor shall fall. The Cup of Bishop Lucius of Glastonbury will be the tool that they're going to use in their mission.
- Balyn and Balan, the grandchildren of Artor, come to Cadbury Tor. Morgan sees a powerful vision about a cup filled and overflowed with blood. Nimue sends her son, Taliesin, to Cadbury. Galahad's celibacy and opinions about religion and other things irritate his father, Gawayne. Gawayne and Galahad meet beautiful Miryll while they're travelling together. Modred arrives at Cadbury Tor...
Because several things happen in this novel and I want to avoid writing too many spoilers, I won't write more about the story. I'll only mention that the story is great and the author expertly moves it along.
The author writes well about old and familiar characters, but she also introduces new characters. The characters are interesting, because the author has created believable characters who have different problems. It's nice that she manages to make the reader care for the characters and their fates - depending on what happens to them, you'll either feel glad or sad for them and wonder what's going to happen to them.
Here's a bit of information about the familiar characters:
- Artor has aged, but he is still a handsome and respected king.
- Wenhaver, Artor's wife, is also older than before, but her behaviour hasn't changed. She behaves as badly and cruelly as before.
- Morgan is also still as malicious as ever and harbours a deep rooted hatred towards Artor.
- Nimue is alone, because her husband, Myrddion, has passed away. She hears voices in the wind.
- Bedwyr is getting married to Elayne.
And here's a bit of information about some of the new characters:
- Modred is an illegitimate son of Morgaus and a Brigante noble. He's come to Artor's court and causes problems.
- Miryll, the mistress of Saliane Minor, has an interesting role to play in the story and her fate is also interesting.
- Gronw, the man in Saliane Minor, is also a fascinating character, but I won't write much about him, because I might reveal too much information about the story, because he is an important character. I'll just mention that he is a spiritual adviser of Miryll.
- Taliesin is the son of Nimue and Myrddion. He travels to Artor's court and charms people with his singing and music.
The character interaction works well and the dialogues and thoughts of the characters are genuinely interesting. For example, it was interesting to read what Artor thought about Wenhaver and how others felt about her, because all seemed to think that Artor could've found a better wife for himself.
Reading about the marriage between Artor and Wenhaver was fascinating, because their marriage was anything but happy. Their marriage was as unhappy and furious as it could be, because both of them despised each other (their situation tormented them). The conversations between Artor and Wenhaver were fantastic and they reminded me a bit of the conversations in several new and brutal fantasy novels.
It was also enjoyable to read about the meeting between Artor and Morgan, because they didn't like each other very much. Her news were of great importance and it was fascinating to see her visit Cadbury Tor.
I enjoyed reading about the women in Artor's life, because each of them had a purpose in the great plan of things to come. The author writes fantastically about the female characters and their lives, because all of them have a role to play in this novel.
The threat to Artor's reign is handled exceptionally well. The author writes intriguingly about the opposers of Artor and their deeds. It was interesting to read to what lengths they went to get rid of Artor. For example, the attack to Glastonbury was a powerfully written scene.
The religious elements were also handled fluently. The author wrote fascinatingly about how people felt about Christianity and how some of them wanted to see the return of the old ways. I enjoyed reading about these things, because the clashes between old and new religions have always been of interest to me (it was especially enjoyable to read about Gronw and his thoughts about religion).
The ancient Cup of Bishop Lucius is an important item in this novel, because it is used as a tool to get rid of Artor and his reign. The author wrote surprisingly well about the cup and its history, because its history and signifigance was revealed gradually.
M. K. Hume writes boldly and fluently about lust, sex, sexuality. She writes about the needs of the characters and what they do with their sexuality in a compelling way. For example, reading about Gawayne and his thoughts about sex was interesting, because he didn't live in celibacy and enjoyed sex.
What makes this novel so intriguing is that it contains beauty, joy, hopefulness, sadness, despair, terror and grittiness in equal measures. Balancing between these things is difficult, but the author manages to do it and she does it well. I respect the author for having the courage to write about dark and grim happenings in an uncompromising way that reinforces the happenings. Her original - and often brutal - vision of the happenings is something different, and what's best, she knows how to keep the story interesting.
When the author writes about dark, bloody and gritty happenings, she does it in a brilliant way by writing openly about violence. Some of the scenes are shocking and violent, because she describes how heads are hacked off and how blood spurts out of the wounds etc. I think that everybody who likes dark fantasy, gritty adult fantasy and horror novels, will enjoy these scenes. These scenes will also appeal to readers who are used to readers gritty historical fiction.
There's a beautifully melancholy atmosphere in several scenes, because the characters are older and think about their lives and their deeds. The characters aren't as young as they were earlier and most of them have done things that they aren't proud of or feel remorse about what they've done, but have learned to live with their choices and the consequences of the choices. It's great that the characters feel the passing of time and acknowledge the fact that they shall soon pass away and only their heirs shall be left behind to take care of the kingdom.
I like it very much that M. K. Hume tells how the actions of the characters affect them and those near them. It's also good that she shows that some of the characters fear that they aren't strong enough to play their parts in what's about to happen. This added depth to the storyline.
One of the best things about this novel and the whole trilogy is that M. K. Hume doesn't sugarcoat the happenings. She shows how life was in ancient times and how people lived their lives. She dares to write boldly about brutal happenings and the evil that men do to each other. I loved the way she wrote the lives of the people and how they handled such things as love, death and betrayals. The detailed descriptions about these things were wonderful.
When I read this novel and the previous novel, I noticed that M. K. Hume seems to love storytelling. She writes passionately about the characters and the happenings, and does her best to deliver an entertaining story that will both entertain and surprise her readers. She pays quite a lot of attention to small details that are important in the great story arc.
Just like the previous novels, this novel contains only a few fantastical elements, because the author uses them sparingly. This is good, because these elements are intriguing when they're used this way. The visions that the characters see are fascinating (they add an interesting touch of fantasy to the storyline).
It's possible that there are readers who try to compare this trilogy to Bernard Cornwell's trilogy. In my opinion there's no need for comparison, because M. K. Hume's vision of the Arthurian legend differs quite a lot from Cornwell's vision. Considering how many novels have already been written about the Arthurian legend, it's amazing that M. K. Hume has managed to write a unique and fascinating Arthurian trilogy, which is fluently written entertainment from start to finish.
Before I write the final words of this review, I'll mention that there good maps in this novel. I'll also mention that I liked the cover art.
Because I enjoyed reading this trilogy, I'll try to read the author's Merlin trilogy in the near future. I've heard good things about it, so it'll go to my reading list. It'll be interesting to see what kind of a trilogy it is, because this trilogy is fantastic.
If you're interested in the Arthurian legend and historical happenings and like to read historical fiction, you should put this novel (and the other novels in this trilogy) to your reading list. M. K. Hume's vision of King Arthur is something different and the story is captivating. This novel is fascinating entertainment for everybody who enjoys reading historical fiction and historical fantasy. I'm sure that readers who begin to read this novel will be turning pages to find out what happens next and how the story ends.
Excellent entertainment for adult readers!