Kingdom of Summer

( 2 )


"[An] engaging mix of history, legend, and romance."
-Publisher's Weekly starred review

"A fast-paced Arthurian novel with broad appeal."
-Historical Novels Review

On the path toward greatness, even a hero makes mistakes.

Armed with his magical sword and otherworldly horse, Gwalchmai proves himself the most feared and faithful warrior of Arthur's noble followers. But while ...

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Kingdom of Summer

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"[An] engaging mix of history, legend, and romance."
-Publisher's Weekly starred review

"A fast-paced Arthurian novel with broad appeal."
-Historical Novels Review

On the path toward greatness, even a hero makes mistakes.

Armed with his magical sword and otherworldly horse, Gwalchmai proves himself the most feared and faithful warrior of Arthur's noble followers. But while defending the kingdom, he commits a grave offense against the woman he loves, leading her to disappear from his life and haunt his memories.

With his trusted servant, Rhys, a commonsense peasant, Gwalchmai tries to find her in the Kingdom of Summer, where Arthur has sent him. But an unexpected and most malevolent force of evil and darkness is loose-that of his mother, the witch-queen Morgawse-and Gwalchmai finds that the secrets of his past may deny him peace...

In the second book of Gillian Bradshaw's critically acclaimed trilogy, Sir Gawain comes to life as Gwalchmai, startlingly human yet fantastically heroic.

Gillian Bradshaw

"Compelling...splendid...vibrant...exhilirating, a novel seduces us into accepting sorcery and sanctity in King Arthur's England."
-New York Times Book Review

"Courage, darkness, magic, cruelty and kindness, justice and liberation...all the things that you have come to relish in the tales of King Arthur and his brave knights."
-Yankee Romance Reviewers

"This engaging and enchanting retelling of the Arthur legend will appeal to adults and younger readers alike."
-Publishers Weekly

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Bradshaw's second Arthurian tale, originally published in 1981, surpasses 2010's Hawk of May in bringing the world of a Roman Arthur to life. The tale of Gwalchmai, aka Gawain, continues, this time narrated by no-nonsense Rhys ap Sion, a farmer who leaves his family's holdings to pledge his service to Gwalchmai and the forces of the light. Gwalchmai often broods; Rhys simply does what needs to be done, whether that's thatching a roof or facing off against the evil Queen Morgawse. Where Gwalchmai has otherworldly power of the light to ward off the darkness, Rhys has only his loyalty, his Christian faith, and his shrewd manner, and he's all the more likable for it. Arthurian retellings rarely come from the voice of a freeman, and Rhys's grounded perspective enhances the fantastical elements. Adults and young readers alike will be delighted by Bradshaw's engaging mix of history, legend, and romance. (Sept.)
Cara Nayland Historical Fiction
Second in an engaging fantasy trilogy retelling the story of Gwalchmai (later Sir Gawain) of Arthurian legend
Historical Novels Review
The combination of action, adventure, romance, and history make Kingdom of Summer an enjoyable, balanced, fast-paced Arthurian novel with broad appeal.
Loving Heart Mommy
Full of action, adventure, a bit of humor and romance "Kingdom of Summer" is a great historical fantasy read
The Calico Critic
Kingdom of Summer was filled with adventure, magic and a bit of romance
Library Journal
When Sir Gwalchmai ap Lot, known in legends as Sir Gawain, accepts the hospitality of a farmer's family, young Rhys ap Sion, the farmer's son, asks to travel back to Camlann as Gwalchmai's servant. In this fashion, the young man links his fortune with one of Arthur's most honorable knights and learns of the dark deed that cost his new master the woman he loved and discovers the darkness at the center of Gwalchmai's family. The second novel in Bradshaw's trilogy chronicling the life of Gawain from the point of view of a perceptive and resourceful commoner presents a believable portrait of a man driven by honor and bound by the laws of his time. VERDICT This sequel to Hawk of May, like its predecessor, returns to publication after 30 years to attract a new audience to the Arthurian cycle through the life of one of Camelot's most memorable knights.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781402240720
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 9/1/2011
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Gillian Bradshaw was born in Falls Church, Virginia, and graduated from the University of Michigan, where she won the Hopwood Award for Hawk of May. She is the author of 25 other novels.
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Read an Excerpt

Dumnonia is the most civilized kingdom in Britain, but in the northeast, in January, it looks no tamer than the wilds of Caledonia. The fields are swallowed by the snow, with only the stubble tips showing pale above the drifts, and the sky is drained of color and seems to weigh upon the heavens. Beyond the cultivated lands-in the case of my family, beyond the river Fromm-lies the forest, dark branches and white snow mingling to form a lead-gray cloud along the horizon, mile upon mile of silence and the panting of wolves. In the summer, men and women ignore the forest. Fields are tended and the produce is brought to market, the oxen draw the ploughs, the horses the carts-but in the winter the wilderness hanging beyond the river looms large in the mind. Life is quieter, and a ghost story which a man laughed at in the harvest season suddenly seems horribly probable, for humanity and civilization look very small and light against that ocean of the cold.
My cousin Goronwy and I had no love for going out to the forest in January, but it happened that our householding needed more wood. That meant a trip across the ford with the cart, and two grown men to make it, so we had gone, and spent the noon-tide hacking away at the loose brush, only occasionally pausing to glance over our shoulders. We were glad when we could turn back with the cart piled high. We crossed the river again, and paused on the home bank to let the oxen drink. Goronwy sat holding the goad, looking on the sleek backs of the beasts, who, since we were impatient, must needs take their time.
I looked back across the river. The water of the stream was dark with the winter, and the afternoon sun lay upon it and upon the heaped snow banks, casting horizontal beams that shone like warm bronze but gave no heat. The only sound in the world was the water whispering on the banks and the grunting of the oxen. It was three miles home, back to our householding, three miles back to the cow-byres and hearth-fires and the faces of men. The thought left my heart hungry for it, but I let my eyes drift slowly down the black river and along the trees of the opposite bank. And because of that, I saw the horseman there before he saw me. A glimpse of crimson drew my eyes from the water, and then, a mounted warrior rode openly out onto the river bank in the heavy sunlight.
He had a red cloak wrapped tightly round him, one hand half-extended through its fold to hold the reins. Gold gleamed from his hand, from the fastening of his cloak and the rim of the shield slung over his back; the spears tied to the saddle, and the bridle of his great white stallion caught the light like stars. He reined in his horse by the stream, and together they stood a moment as still as the trees behind them, white and crimson and gold. I felt as if I had just opened my eyes and seen a being from a song I had loved all my life, or a figure from a dream. Then the rider turned his gaze along the river, and met my own stare, and I came back to myself, and knew enough to become afraid.
"Goronwy!" I seized my cousin's arm.
"Well, and what is it...?" He followed my stare and froze.
The rider turned his horse and came up the far bank towards us, the stallion stepping carefully, with a light, clean stride, delicate as a cat's.
"Eeeeh." Goronwy nudged the oxen with the goad and jumped out of the cart. The beasts snorted, backed up, breath steaming.
"Do you think we can outrun him?" I asked, annoyed with Goronwy and trying to prevent all the wood from falling off with the jolts. "Oxen, against a horse like that one?"
"Perhaps he cannot cross the water." Goronwy's voice was low.
"You've laughed at tales of the Fair Ones before this."
"I laughed at home. Sweet Jesu preserve us now!"
"Oh come! He must be a traveler. If he's no bandit, he will only ask the way. And if he's a bandit, there are two of us, and we've nothing more than death to fear."
"I fear that enough, without the other." The oxen shambled away from the bank, and Goronwy leapt back into the cart. "But who'd travel in winter? This far from a road?"
The rider reached the ford and turned his horse to the water. The stream was not deep, and came no higher than the animal's knees, though the horse tossed its head at the coldness. Goronwy gave a little hiss and sat still again. If the rider could cross the water, perhaps he was not a spirit. Or perhaps he was. Either way, we could not outrun him.
He reached the home bank and rode up beside us and, as he did so, the sun dropped below the tree-line and covered us with criss-crossing shadows. I saw more clearly as the dazzle and glitter vanished, and could have cried for disappointment after such a shining vision. The horse, though splendid, had a long, raw gash across its chest, its bones showed through the hide, and its legs and shoulders were streaked with mud. The rider's clothes were very worn, the red cloak tattered and dirty, the hand on the reins purple with cold. His black hair and beard were matted and untrimmed, and he had clearly not washed for a long time. He might be a lost traveler, he might well be a bandit, but...
I met his eyes, and was shaken again. Those eyes were dark as the sea at midnight, and there was something to their look that set the short hairs upright on my neck. I crossed myself, wondering whether Goronwy might be right. My father always said that the tales of the People of the Hills were so many lies, and yet I had never seen a look like that on a human face.
The rider smiled at my gesture, a bitter smile, and leaned over to speak to us. He had drawn his sword, and rested it across his knees so that we could look at it as he spoke. It looked a fine, sharp sword.
"My greetings to you," said the rider. His voice was hoarse, hardly above a whisper. "What land is this?"
I saw Goronwy's hand relax a little on the ox-goad, and then he, too, crossed himself before replying, "Dumnonia, Lord. Near Mor Hafren. Do you ask because you have lost your road?" He was eager to give directions.
The stranger said nothing to the question, only looked at the fields beyond us. "Dumnonia. What is that river, then?"
"The Fromm. It joins Mor Hafren a bit beyond two miles from here. Lord, there is a Roman road some twelve miles eastwards of here..."
"I do not know of your river. Is the land beyond close-settled?"
"Closely enough." Goronwy paused. "Baddon is not far from here. There is a strong lord there, and his warband."
The rider smiled bitterly again. "I am not a bandit, that you must threaten me with kings and warbands." He looked at us, considering. "What is your name, man?"
Goronwy rubbed his wrist, looked at the oxen, glanced back at the sword. "Goronwy ap Cynydd," he admitted at last.
"So. And you?"
"Rhys ap Sion," I answered. It might be unwise to offer names, but we could hardly avoid it. I again met the man's eyes, and again I felt cold, and wondered if we were endangering our souls. But I thought the man human. He must be.
"So then, Goronwy ap Cynydd and Rhys ap Sion, I have need of lodgings tonight, for myself and for my horse. How far is it to your householding?"
"My lord, our householding is poor..." Goronwy began, a trifle untruthfully, since we are one of the first clans about Mor Hafren.
"I can pay. How far is it?"
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Table of Contents

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 7, 2011


    KINGDOM OF SUMMER by Gillian Bradshaw is an interesting historical fiction/fantasy set in England during Arthurian era.It is the second in the trilogy.It has cruelty,kindness,justice,darkness,witchcraft,sorcery,King Arthur's followers,magic,courage,witches,knights and heros. This the story of Sir Gwalchmai,aka Sir Gawain. Who armed only with his magic sword and his otherworldly horse,he will prove to be a faithful warrior of King Arthur.Sir Gawain and his faithful servant Rhys while trying to find the woman Sir Gawain loved but committed a grave offense to will encounter an evil force,his mother,the witch-queen Morgawse.Sir Gawain will learn secrets from his past that may deny him his peace. This is a new tale to an old story of King Arthur and his noble knights. A wonderful retelling of the King Arthur legend that will appear to a wide variety of readers.This book was received for the purpose of review from the publisher.Details can be found at Sourcebooks,Landmark, a division of Sourcebooks,Inc.and My Book Addiction Reviews.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2002

    You want drama, here it is

    For those of whome have grown attached to the characters, in the previous two books, try to avoid this particular book. I would say it is amoung one of the worst endings to a really good series.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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