Pendragon (Pendragon Cycle Series #4)

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Overview

And now the stirring saga continues, with the long-awaited fourth book of master fantasist Stephen R. Lawhead's critically acclaimed Pendragon Cycle - an epic adventure of faith and fate, of magic, conflict and conquest. The breath-taking legend lives on, as Arthur, the Bear of Britain, faces his most devastating trial - in a furious, sword to sword battle against twin forces of blackest evil that conspire to annihilate his world. In this dark time of plague and pestilence, it is a young Arthur who must now prove...
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Pendragon (Pendragon Cycle Series #4)

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Overview

And now the stirring saga continues, with the long-awaited fourth book of master fantasist Stephen R. Lawhead's critically acclaimed Pendragon Cycle - an epic adventure of faith and fate, of magic, conflict and conquest. The breath-taking legend lives on, as Arthur, the Bear of Britain, faces his most devastating trial - in a furious, sword to sword battle against twin forces of blackest evil that conspire to annihilate his world. In this dark time of plague and pestilence, it is a young Arthur who must now prove his greatness...or witness the agonizing death of his cherished dream of Summer.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The early years of Arthur's reign-his crowning, marriage and the first major test of his leadership-are chronicled in this atmospheric fourth volume of Lawhead's Pendragon Cycle (Taliesin; Merlin; Arthur). When Myrdinn Emrys (known in later ages as Merlin) failed to unite the British kings after Uther Pendragon's death, he took the young Arthur, son of Aurelius (once Pendragon himself), to be raised in hiding. When the boy came of age, he defeated the various kings and gained their sometimes grudging allegiance (as chronicled in Arthur). Now he is to be crowned in Londonium, where the Irish warrior princess Gwenhwyvar comes to claim his hand in marriage, as previously promised. While Arthur and his closest companions dally in Ierne (Ireland), a calamity occurs as hordes of vandals, harried from Carthage, fall upon the nearly defenseless island. Led by Arthur and aided by the British, the Irish repel the invaders, who turn their attentions to Britain, where they initiate a scorched-earth war that tests Arthur's leadership and the loyalty of the reluctant kings. Though Lawhead brilliantly creates an authentic and vivid Arthurian Britain, he never forsakes the sense of wonder that has graced the Arthurian legend throughout the ages. (Oct.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786109869
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
  • Publication date: 7/1/1996
  • Series: Pendragon Cycle Series , #4
  • Format: Cassette
  • Edition description: Unabridged, 10 Cassettes

Meet the Author

Stephen Lawhead

Stephen R. Lawhead is an internationally acclaimed author of mythic history and imaginative fiction. His works include Byzantium and the series The Pendragon Cycle, The Celtic Crusades, and The Song of Albion. Lawhead makes his home in Austria with his wife.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One



They say Merlin is a magician, an enchanter, a druid of dark lore. If I were and if I were, I would conjure better men than rule this island now! I would bring back those whose very names are charms of power: Cai, Bedwyr, Pelleas, Gwalchavad, Llenlleawg, Gwalcmai, Bors, Rhys, Cador, and others: Gwenhwyvar, Charis, Ygerna. Men and women who made this sea-girt rock the Island of the Mighty.

I need no Seeing Bowl, no black oak water, or fiery embers by which to perceive them. They are ever with me. They are not dead -- they only sleep. Hear me! I have but to speak their names aloud and they will awake and arise. Great Light, how long must I wait?

I climb the green hills of the Glass Isle alone, and I wear a different name. Oh, I have so many names: Myrddin Emrys among the Cymry, and Merlin Embries to those in the south; I am Merlinus Ambrosius to the Latin speakers: Merlin the Immortal. I am Ken-ti-Gern to the small, dark Hill Folk of the empty north. But the name I wear now is a name of my own choosing, a simple name, of no consequence to anyone. Thus I guard and protect my power. That is as it should be. One day those who sleep will awaken, and those who guard their slumbers will be revealed. And on that day, the Pendragon win reclaim his long-abandoned throne. So be it!

Oh, I am impatient! It is the curse of my kind. But time will not be hurried. I must content myself with the work given to me: keeping Arthur's sovereignty alive until he returns to take it up once more. Believe me, in this day of fools and thieves that is no easy task.

Not that it ever was. From the very beginning, it took my every skill to preserve theSovereignty of Britain for the one whose hand was made to hold it. Indeed, in those early years it was no small chore to preserve that smallhand as well. The petty kings would have roasted the lad alive and served him up on a platter if they had known.

Why? Well you may ask, for the thing has become muddled with time. Hear me then, if you would know: Arthur was Aurelius' son, and Uther's nephew; his mother, Ygerna, was queen to both men. And while Britain had not yet succumbed to the practice of passing kingship father-to-son, like the Saecsenkind, more and more men had begun to choose their lords from the kin of previous kings, be they sons or nephews -- all the more if that lord were well liked, fortunate in his dealings, and favored in battle. Thus, Aurelius and Uther, between them, had bestowed a prodigious legacy on the babe. For never was a sovereign better loved than Aurelius, and never one more battle-lucky than Uther.

So Arthur, yet a babe in arms, required protection from the power-mad dogs who would see in him a threat to their ambitions. I did not know Arthur would be Pendragon then. The way men tell it, I knew from the beginning. But no; I did not fully appreciate what had been given me. Men seldom do, I find. My own deeds and doings occupied me more than his small life, and that is the way of it.

Still, I recall the first faint glimmerings of the splendor that would be. Though it was a long time coming, when it finally broke, that glory blazed with a light so bright I believe it will shine forever.

Hear me now:

The nobles of Britain had been called to council in Londinium upon Uther Pendragon's death to decide who should be High King-- and there were plenty who thought to take his place. When it became clear no agreement could be reached and rather than see a hissing toad like Dunaut or a viper like Morcant seize the throne -- I thrust the Sword of Britain into the keystone of the unfinished arch standing in the churchyard.

"You ask for a sign," I shouted, my voice a roar of fury. "Here it is: whosoever raises the sword from this stone shall be the trueborn king of all Britain. Until that day, the land will endure such strife as never known in the Island of the Mighty to this time, and Britain shall have no king."

Then Pelleas and I fled the city in disgust. I could no longer abide the scheming duplicity of the small kings, so quit the council and rode with all haste to find Arthur. There was an urgency to my purpose, certainly. But even then I did not fully comprehend what drove me. I did not think him the future king, only a babe requiring protection -- all the more since the High Kingship remained unresolved. Even so, I felt an almost overpowering desire to see the child. The bard's awen was on me, and I could but follow where it led.

Later, yes. Understanding would come in its own good time. But when I bade faithful Pelleas saddle the horses that day, I simply said, "Come, Pelleas, I want to see the child."

And so we flew from Londinium as if pursued by all those angry lords we had left behind. It was somewhere on the road to Caer Myrddin that I began to wonder if there was more to our speed than a simple wish to see Arthur.

Indeed, something in me had changed. Perhaps it was the strain of contending with the small kings. Or perhaps it happened when I joined the Sword of Britain to the stone. However it was, this I know: the Merlin who had ridden into Londinium so full of hope and anticipation was not the same Merlin who rode out.

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First Chapter

0380781042<%FIRSTCHAPT%>Grail
Book Five of the Pendragon Cycle
Chapter One


1. Gwalchavad, Lord of Orcady, write this. And no gentle labor it is. Nor less rough the reading, I fear. Unlike Myrddin, or the brown-cloaked clerics, I am no master of the scribbler's craft. God's truth, the sword hilt better fits my hand than this close-pared reed. Even so, I am assured my crabbed script will live long after the hand that framed it is dust. This Brother Aneirin assures me, and he is wise in such things. So be it.

I was born in sight of Ynys Prydain, with my brother and twin, Gwalcmai--both sons of noble Lot, himself a king of the Orcades. My birth, in itself, is of small consequence. But for Arthur, I would have lived all my days in that wild place and never traveled beyond the boundary stones of my father's island realm; but for Arthur, my life might have passed in hunting, fishing, and settling the squabbles of petty chieftains. I would never have heard of the Kingdom of Summer--much less the Grail--and truly, I would not be writing this at all.

Still, I will persist in my endeavor so you may know the way of it. Anyone with ears has heard of Arthur and his trials and triumphs; tales and more tales flood the land from Lloegres to Celyddon. Many bards tell them now, and a few of the monkish kind have written them, too. A sorry scribe I may be, though perhaps not least among these gall-stained ink-spillers.

They speak of wars and battles, and that is right, They tell of brave men defending the Island of the Mighty with their lives. These tales are good, and some are even true; I take nothing away from them. But my task is ordered differently.

See, now, it is the Grail I tell: that strange stirrer of marvels, that most uncanny vessel of desire. Dangerous, yes, and more beautiful than words alone can tell, it is the holiest treasure in all this worlds-realm. But for Arthur, that precious cup would surely have been forgotten, and its healing virtues lost through ignorance and neglect. Yet, truth be told, but for Arthur, none of the terrors and tribulations I describe would have befallen us. But for Arthur, the Grail was almost lost, and a flame of Heaven's pure fire extinguished on the earth.

That is a tale few have heard, and it is worth more than all the others. Ah, but I race before myself. Know you, the Battlehost of the Ancient Enemy is large, and falters before nothing save the True Word. And the sound of the clash when those two combatants met will echo through the ages, I do believe it. Blessed among men, I was favored to ride at my king's right hand in the foreranks of the fight. Tremble and turn pale; sain yourself with runes and strong prayers, call upon the company of angels, and harken well to my warning: where great good endures, great evil gathers close about. This I know.

Hear me! Speak of the Grail and you speak a mystery with a secret at its heart, and I, Gwalchavad, Prince of Orcady, know the secret as none other. If the telling gives you pleasure, well and good . . . but I should not like cold eyes to read it in this book.

Therefore, look to your heart; look long and hard. If you are friend to all that is true and right, then welcome and read on. But if you would savor the sauce of slander and shadow tricks, feast on lies, betrayals, and seductions, you will find little to your liking here. Blessed Jesu, I mean to tell the truth of what I know.

Thus, I begin:

For seven long years we warred against the ravaging Saecsens--seven years of hardship and privation, misery, torment, and death. Under Arthur's command, and with the aid of the Swift Sure Hand, we prevailed in the end.

This is well known--indeed, even small children know how the warhost of Britain raised the wall on Baedun Hill and destroyed the bold invader--so I will not say more, except to point out that we had scarcely drawn breath from our hard-fought victory at Baedun when we were beset by the wandering Vandal horde. Fighting first in Ierna, then in Britain, we chased Amilcar, that greedy boar of battle, over most of Lloegres before he was subdued.

A strange war, that; it lasted little more than a season, yet brought more waste and destruction to our land than all the Saecsen battles put together. Why is it that trouble always seems to come in threes? For with the havoc of the Vandali came plague and drought as well. Those who grumble and complain would do well to remember that the Pendragon had three enemies to fight, not just one. If there is another king who could have done better against such odds, then show me that man, I say, or shut your mouth. There is no pleasing some people. Though many raise their voices in accusation and make loud lament over lost lands and such, I still think Arthur chose the better course.

The thing is over now, in any event, so it does no good to piss and moan. If they knew the Bear of Britain at all, they would realize their miserable whining only hardens his conviction the more.

Better a trustworthy foe than a treacherous friend, and we have seen enough of scheming friends. The Island of the Mighty is better off without the likes of Ceredig, Morcant, Brastias, Gerontius, Urien, and their rebellious ilk always making trouble. The Devil take them all, I say. They will not be missed.

Where were they--those who make such loud complaint-when Arthur stood against the Vandal lord? Urien and Brastias thought to usurp the High King's portion, but did I hear them offer to take the High King's place on the blood-soaked battleground?

Grail
Book Five of the Pendragon Cycle
. Copyright © by Stephen Lawhead. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 15, 2013

    Melody

    I moaned into your mouth.

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    Posted June 19, 2013

    Ari

    Your never on melody. I think its timw to call it quits...

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 23, 2011

    I love it!

    Unlike the last person, I Loved the story. I zoomed through it!

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  • Posted March 30, 2010

    Next time try to not just phone it in!

    Of all 5 books in the cycle, this one was the most dissapointing. It was disorganized, the events were out of sequence and the characters were inconsistent with the other 4 books.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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