In Winter's Shadow Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of In Winter's Shadow

Malice combined with human frailty bring about the downfall of King Arthur. In Winter's Shadow, the final novel in Gillian Bradshaw's trilogy about the King Arthur legend, is written from the perspective of Queen Gwynhwyfar (i.e. Guinevere), Arthur's wife.
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Medraut comes to Camlann (Camelot) to destroy Arthur. As Arthur's nephew, he cannot be turned away. In actuality, he is the son of Arthur and his half-sister Morgawse (though Arthur did not know of his kinship to Morgawse at the time). Soon, the persuasively deceitful Medraut is able to build up a faction within Arthur's warband and create dissension and even open conflict between former comrades who had once fought together side by side. Arthur and Gwynhwyfar are taxed to the limit holding everything together. Gwynhwyfar finds secret comfort in the arms of Bedwyr (Bedivere), Arthur's warleader and trusted adviser.

All is not grim, however. Gwalchmai (Gawain) (the hero of Bradshaw's first book, Hawk of May), discovers that Gwyn, a nun's illegitimate offspring who came to Camlann, is his son. Having already grown very fond of the boy, Gwalchmai immediately has him legitimized. Arthur is excited as well, for a different reason. Gwyn is now closely enough related to Arthur that he could be designated his heir. The boy shows much promise, and his now-deceased mother belonged to a powerful royal clan that had always opposed Arthur; this might appease them.

However, it all comes crashing down when Medraut exposes Gwynhwyfar's adultery. Instead of having her and Bedwyr executed, Arthur banishes them, she to her clan, he to his native Less Britain (in what is now France). Bedwyr and his men attack Gwynhwyfar's escort, and Bedwyr unintentionally kills Gwyn. Bedwyr then takes Gwyhwyfar to his homeland. Gwalchmai demands justice. In response, Arthur takes most of his warband to Less Britain, but Bedwy knows his tactics all too well, and the fighting drags on.

With most of Arthur's men away, Medraut is able to seize control of Camlann. Once Arthur learns of his treachery, he returns, and the two sides gather their forces for a monumental battle. Arthur is killed, as is Medraut (stabbed by his own treacherous ally when the battle turns against him). With that, Arthur's dream of a united peaceful Britain are shattered.
Best part of story, including ending: It's a well-imagined take on the Arthur legend, gritty and detailed.

Best scene in story: When a dying, unrecognized Medraut is brought to where Gwynhwyfar is helping care for the wounded, she is surprised when he reacts with anguish when she informs him that his half-brother Gwalchmai is dead. Even the greatest villain is not all black.

Opinion about the main character: Gwynhwyfar is brought to vibrant life by the author. She is thoroughly believable.

The review of this Book prepared by J. Lee a Level 10 Peregrine Falcon scholar

Chapter Analysis of In Winter's Shadow

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Plot & Themes

Composition of Book Descript. of chases or violence 20%planning/preparing, gather info, debate puzzles/motives 20%Feelings, relationships, character bio/development 40%Descript. of society, phenomena (tech), places 20% FANTASY or SCIENCE FICTION?    -   King Arthur Political power play    -   Yes Political plotlets    -   overthrowing govt/kingdom Is this an adult or child's book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book

Main Character

Identity:    -   Female Age:    -   40's-50's


Earth setting:    -   during "Tolkien" (fairytime) times Takes place on Earth?    -   Yes

Writing Style

Accounts of torture and death?    -   moderately detailed references to deaths How much dialogue?    -   roughly even amounts of descript and dialog

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Gillian Bradshaw Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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