Arthur Rex Brittonum by Tim Walker #BookReview

From the decay of post-Roman Britain, Arthur seeks to unite a troubled land

Arthur Rex Brittonum (‘King of the Britons’) is an action-packed telling of the King Arthur story rooted in historical accounts that predate the familiar Camelot legend. 
Britain in the early sixth century has reverted to tribal lands, where chiefs settle old scores with neighbours whilst eyeing with trepidation the invaders who menace the shore in search of plunder and settlement.
Arthur, only son of the late King Uther, has been crowned King of the Britons by the northern chiefs and must now persuade their counterparts in the south and west to embrace him. Will his bid to lead their combined army against the Saxon threat succeed? He arrives in Powys buoyed by popular acclaim at home, a king, husband and father - but can he sustain his efforts in unfamiliar territory?  It is a treacherous and winding road that ultimately leads him to a winner-takes-all clash at the citadel of Mount Badon.
Tim Walker’s Arthur Rex Brittonum picks up the thread from the earlier life of Arthur in 2019’s Arthur Dux Bellorum, but it can be read as a standalone novel.

Fans of Bernard Cornwell, Conn Iggulden and Mathew Harffy will enjoy Walker’s A Light in the Dark Ages series and its newest addition – Arthur Rex Brittonum.

It's my pleasure to be sharing my review of Arthur Rex Brittonum today. Many thanks to Tim Walker for sending me a digital copy of the book.

I mentioned at the end of my review of  the previous book in Tim Walker's A Light in the Dark Ages series, Arthur Dux Bellorum that I hoped there was more to come, so I was delighted to see he had written another novel about Arthur following his exploits after his crowning as King of the Britons. Although this is a follow-on, I am happy to recommend it as a standalone read, however, many of the characters included here were introduced in the earlier story and I feel to really know who them it is worthwhile reading that first.
The legend of King Arthur is one of our most enduring but what if he was more than just a myth? There are some scholars who believe that he really existed and though his life has been dramatised and exaggerated by various storytellers, there may be some truth to certain aspects of his life. It's this man - a warrior turned king, whom Tim Walker brings to life.
The book is divided into two parts; in the first, Arthur has only recently been crowned King of the Britons but there are some who still doubt or oppose his claim to the throne, believing his half-brother, Mordred to be the true successor to King Uther. Various kingdoms existed in post-Roman Britannia, some unified under an overlord but peace was fragile and there was often violent clashes with neighbouring tribes. Threats also came from invaders, most notably the Angles and Saxons. The diplomatic manoeuvring between kingdoms and the uneasy truces depicted in the story give a vivid impression of a land seemingly always on the cusp of change. 
Tim Walker's Arthur is a believable character and a far more real, flawed individual than many other versions of him. His ebullience and natural leadership skills make him popular with many but he has enemies too and it's fascinating to see him try to negotiate with other kings as he attempts to raise an army against combined threats in the south. The battle scenes are exciting and brutal and the negotiations tense but the portrayal of everyday life is interesting too. Britannia is a country unsure of what it wants to be and the lingering influence of the Romans is still plain to see, from interior design tastes to religion. Arthur rides into battle as a Christian, with the Virgin Mary and Child on his shield but traditional pagan beliefs hold fast among much of the population. 
In a book about Arthur, the presence of Merlyn is inevitable; he is a wise healer but his use of clever tricks as powerful tools of persuasion means it's not difficult to see how people could be made to believe in sorcery. Sacrifices to the gods are still commonplace so it's perhaps not surprising that despite this being a realistic imagining of Arthur, there are a few nods to folk tales too, including a scene which will be immediately familiar to anybody who knows the story of Snow White.
The second half of the novel follows Arthur later in his reign when he has become a rather lacklustre leader whose preoccupation with Guinevere threatens to undermine the goodwill he engendered previously. With his confident air of invincibility on the wane, he seems a far more vulnerable man when he faces another showdown with Mordred and the vivid descriptions of the fighting towards  the end are viscerally dramatic.
Tim Walker has clearly researched his subject well and the rich historical details throughout ensures Arthur Rex Brittonum is an intriguing study of one of our most well-known characters. I am sure it will be equally appreciated by readers who are drawn to the Arthurian legend and those who are seeking thrilling historical fiction, especially if they are particularly interested in the early Middle Ages. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Arthur Rex Brittonum is independently published and can be purchased from Amazon UK, Amazon US and Kobo.

About the Author

Tim Walker is an independent author living near Windsor in the UK. He grew up in Liverpool where he began his working life as a trainee reporter on a local newspaper. He then studied for and attained a degree in Communication studies and moved to London where he worked in the newspaper publishing industry for ten years before relocating to Zambia where, following a period of voluntary work with VSO, he set up his own marketing and publishing business.
His creative writing journey began in earnest in 2013, as a therapeutic activity whilst undergoing and recovering from cancer treatment. He began writing an historical fiction series, A Light in the Dark Ages, in 2014, following a visit to the near-by site of a former Roman town. The aim of the series is to connect the end of Roman Britain to elements of the Arthurian legend, presenting an imagined history of Britain in the fifth and early sixth centuries.
His new book, published in June 2020, is Arthur, Rex Brittonum, a re-imagining of the story of King Arthur (book five in the series). It follows on from 2019’s Arthur Dux Bellorum, the story of young Arthur (book four in the series), that received recognition from two sources in 2019 - One Stop Fiction Book of the Month in April, and an honourable mention in the Coffee Pot Book Club Book of the Year (Historical Fiction) Awards. The series starts with Abandoned (second edition, 2018); followed by Ambrosius: Last of the Romans (2017); and book three, Uther's Destiny (2018). Series book covers are designed by Canadian graphic artist, Cathy Walker. Tim is self-published under his brand name, timwalkerwrites.
Tim has also written two books of short stories, Thames Valley Tales (2015), and Postcards from London (2017); a dystopian thriller, Devil Gate Dawn (2016); Perverse (verse and short fiction, 2020); and two children's books, co-authored with his daughter, Cathy - The Adventures of Charly Holmes (2017) and Charly & The Superheroes (2018) with a third in the pipeline – Charly in Space.