Monday 6 June 2016

Book Review ~ The Shadow of a King @cgray129

“I need to finish my tale,” called Uther,
“and so I shall keep on with the telling...”

As you well know, I have a little bit of an obsession with everything Arthurian, so when I was offered an ARC of The Shadow of a King by C.M.Grey, I was hardly going to say no!

Let's take a quick look at the book...

Legends of old can never fade.
The truth can never die.
The tip of a spear settles any dispute.
But the love of a King comes before all.

In his fifteenth year of rule, King Uther Pendragon - High King of all the Celtic Tribes - is set on a quest by Merlyn and the druids of Mona, to brave the winter seas and set sail for the Isle of Erin. The quest placed upon the king, despite the tribal lands being at war with Saxon invaders, is to take a war party and return with a prize that will lay to rest the ghosts of the past and allow the Celts to reclaim their lands.

But none of those who set sail realize what this quest will release within their king, and what events will unfold.

The second book in C.M. Gray's Shadowland series, The Shadow of a King is a standalone fantasy adventure and can be enjoyed even if you haven't read the first book in the series.


"They had thought they were in the depths of winter, until the night when it really arrived."

What did I think of the book?

There is a border between this world and the Shadowlands. At one point everyone will cross into this ghostly realm. No man or druid can halt the natural way of things. King Uther Pendragon is dying, and the Saxons are coming. The future of Britain is uncertain.

Uther is in the care of the Abbess Morgana, at Glastening Abbey.  The Abbey is a place of sanctuary, where a dying man may be given every possible comfort and attention. But the Abbess, although she appears godly, has a dark heart.  She wants answers, and Uther will give them to her before he way or another.

C.M. Gray has brought back to life Uther Pendragon in this most evocative and beautiful story, set in the backdrop of the brutalities of 5th Century, Britain. This is the story before King Arthur, and it is a fascinating and spellbinding read. From the magic of the druids to the spender of the world that it is set in, I was enchanted. 

The influence of Gildas, Bede, Nennius and not forgetting, Geoffrey of Monmouth, rings throughout this book as loud as any bell. Gray has given new life to a very old tale, and he has done it to an incredibly high standard, and I commend him for that. 

I found myself completely immersed into the world Gray has created. I could almost smell the stench of battle, and I really took to Uther. He was an incredibly well crafted and believable character.

I adored Merlyn in all his eccentricity, and I loved the way he and Uther played off each other - It was just how I imagine the two of them would be. One thing was for certain - when Merlyn was around anything could happen, and it usually did! This kept me engaged as I wondered what this old druid was going to get up to next!

Morgana was the perfect antagonist – but she had a very compelling backstory, and I could understand – if not agree – with why she did what she did. Loneliness and abandonment turned to bitterness. And bitterness makes for a very unhappy life. As much as I wanted to dislike her, I could not, she had my sympathy.

I have no hesitation in recommending this book. It is a fantastic introduction to anyone interested in Arthurian legends, and it is on my repeat-to-read list.

I Highly Recommend.

 “Merlyn, you are exasperating,
I could have been killed.
Where can I buy this fabulous book?
About the author  
Born in Essex, England with a heavy dose of 'travel lust', C.M.Gray has since been lucky enough to live and travel in many countries around the world. In fact he has lived for more years outside of England than he has living there! Working as a carpenter, fruit picker and even a stint in stock brokering, he has called home Buddhist monasteries in the Himalayan Mountains, the clamor of central Hong Kong to a farm in deep rural Burgundy. Forever vowing to return and sink his roots once again in English soil... some day, he hasn't quite made it back yet, but does live a little closer these days; just outside of Barcelona in the middle of the forest with his dogs and two wonderful children.


  1. Thanks so much for a great review! I'm so happy you enjoyed my story:)

  2. It sounds like Mr. Gray's own life was the stuff of an adventure novel. I have been fascinated with the Arthurian Era ever since the Kennedy "Camelot" so his novel sounds interesting.


See you on your next coffee break!
Take Care,
Mary Anne xxx