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First edition cover
|Series||The Warlord Chronicles|
|5 September 1996|
|Media type||Print (hardcover & paperback)|
|Pages||416 pp (hardcover edition) & 472 pp (paperback edition)|
|ISBN||0-7181-0051-4 (hardcover first edition) |
ISBN 0-14-023247-8 (paperback edition)
|Preceded by||The Winter King|
Enemy of God: A Novel of Arthur is the second novel in The Warlord Chronicles trilogy by Bernard Cornwell. A sequel to The Winter King, it was first published in the UK in 1996. The trilogy tells the legend of King Arthur through the eyes of his follower Derfel Cadarn.
Against all odds, Arthur, the warlord of Dumnonia, has achieved peace among the warring British kingdoms and is set to turn his army against the Saxons. Merlin organizes a dangerous quest into the lands of the most terrible of Britain's enemies in an attempt to recover an ancient relic which will help him restore Britain to its former glory. Meanwhile, Arthur's enemies close around him, ready to destroy his world for their own aims.
Part One: The Dark Road
Arthur's unexpected victory over the combined armies of Powys and Siluria at Lugg Vale has brought peace and unity to the British kingdoms. Both Gorfyddyd, King of Powys, and Gundleus, King of Siluria, are dead. Gorfyddyd's son, Cuneglas, shares Arthur's desire for peace and also his dream of an alliance between the kingdoms that will destroy their common enemy, the Saxons. Derfel is ordered to follow Cuneglas to Caer Sws, capital of Powys, where the Edling is to be crowned king. As for the vacant Silurian throne, Arthur plans to make Lancelot the king and marry him to the Cuneglas' sister, Ceinwyn, the Princess of Powys, thus cementing the alliance between Dumnonia, Powys, and Siluria. Derfel himself is to be rewarded with land and made the new champion of Dumnonia as well as the caretaker for the boy king Mordred, as Arthur wants to remove Mordred from the growing influence of the Christian faction within Dumnonia.
Derfel does not reveal that he is in love with Ceinwyn and wants her for himself. As Arthur and his wife Guinevere arrive at Caer Sws for Cuneglas' acclamation, Derfel witnesses Ceinwyn's apparent happiness with her betrothal. Derfel speaks with Merlin, who tells him that Arthur wants him to marry Gwenhwyvach, Guinevere's plain and apathetic sister. Merlin asks Derfel to meet him and Nimue late that night on a hilltop, where he has Derfel drink a foul concoction. Derfel hallucinates about Ceinwyn and sees a Dark Road and a ghoul, who Merlin tells him is Diwrnach, the vicious Irish king of Lleyn. Merlin asks Derfel to accompany him on a quest to Diwrnach's lands to recover the Cauldron of Clydno Eiddin, one of the Thirteen Treasures of Britain, which was lost after the Romans sacked Ynys Mon four centuries prior. Merlin gives Derfel a bone and tells him that all he has to do is break it and his wish will be granted – namely that Ceinwyn will choose him over Lancelot – but warns that if he breaks it, he will be oath-bound to Merlin's quest.
On the night of Ceinwyn and Lancelot's betrothal feast, Derfel breaks the bone and Ceinwyn goes to Derfel instead of Lancelot. Ceinwyn refuses to be married as she wants to belong to herself and to no man, but nevertheless promises to love Derfel as a wife would. She also tells him that, since only a virgin can recover the Cauldron, Merlin has made her swear that she will remain a virgin until it is found, which means she will accompany them on the Dark Road. Derfel is reluctant to let her join the quest but she insists. Though Derfel and Ceinwyn have disrupted the political marriage he has arranged, Arthur is happy for his friend and congratulates Derfel, telling him that, once spring comes, he will call upon him to join his campaign to drive the Saxons from Lloegyr.
Arthur returns to Dumnonia, where he appoints his cousin, Culhwch, as Mordred's guardian. Culhwch puts down a rebellion by Prince Cadwy of Isca and in the process discovers that Christian noblemen and magistrates in Dumnonia had conspired to kill Arthur prior to Lugg Vale. Arthur orders that all the conspirators, including Nabur, Mordred's former guardian, be executed or removed. The only Christian to escape the purge is Bishop Sansum, who manages to remain as guardian of the Christian shrine of the Holy Thorn near Ynys Wydryn because he could not be implicated in the conspiracy, and because of his unlikely friendship with Morgan, Arthur's sister and druidess, who has great influence over Dumnonia in the absence of Merlin and Nimue.
Merlin's party travels along the Dark Road into Diwrnach's kingdom of Lleyn and crosses the narrow strait to the former druid fortress of Ynys Mon, where Merlin believes the Cauldron is hidden. Ceinwyn finds the Cauldron buried atop a hill, but the group is surrounded and besieged by Diwrnach's macabre warriors. Diwrnach demands the Cauldron and Ceinwyn in exchange for their freedom, but a heavy fog, apparently summoned by Merlin, allows the warband to escape undetected.
Part Two: The Broken War
Derfel and his men are celebrated upon their return as Warriors of the Cauldron, but he and Ceinwyn merely retreat to a quiet farm in Powys to live peacefully until spring, when Arthur will summon his warriors for the fight against the Saxons. The two are happy during their time away from the world and Ceinwyn becomes pregnant with their first child. When spring arrives, Arthur calls Derfel to a high council of the British kings in Corinium to discuss the upcoming war. Arthur also convenes a gathering of Mithras to induct Lancelot into the order. Lancelot has grown bored as King of Siluria and is angry at Ceinwyn's rejection. He has established his capital at Isca, as close to Dumnonia as possible without leaving Siluria, and has the twin grandsons of Tanaburs, the druids Dinas and Lavaine, at his service. Derfel refuses to support his rival's election to the cult of Mithras as he knows that Lancelot is no warrior. He is supported in this action by Agricola, a fellow Mithraist and a warlord of Gwent. However, Lancelot avoids the humiliation of rejection into the cult by publicly converting to Christianity and being baptised by Bishop Sansum, which ensures Lancelot's popularity with the Christians.
Marching east to meet the Saxons, Arthur's army successfully lures Aelle's forces into a trap and his war dogs are defeated by Merlin and Nimue, who bring bitches to the battle to distract them. Aelle is greatly weakened during the battle but not defeated. As the enemy retreats, the British kings are surprised by the sudden arrival of Lancelot and Cerdic, another Saxon king who is Aelle's chief rival in eastern Britain. Lancelot explains that he has negotiated an alliance with Cerdic, which infuriates Arthur, who understands that doing so has negated his victory over Aelle and only made Cerdic into a more dangerous enemy. Arthur sends Derfel to find Aelle and bring him to Lindinis, where a truce is negotiated. Cerdic wins Lindinis and the valley of the Thames from Aelle, but the British kings force Cerdic to renounce any claim over the river lands of the Belgae. However, Cerdic insists that Lancelot be given control of this land as a king; as such, Lancelot is granted a new kingdom much richer and more to his liking than Siluria, which will instead be divided between Gwent and Powys. Arthur accepts these conditions with reluctance.
As the peace negotiations are conducted, Merlin and Nimue search for the last Treasure of Britain, the Chariot of Modron. When they find it, Cerdic arrives with Dinas and Lavaine and claims it as his own, since they are now in his kingdom. Dinas and Lavaine take the chariot and cut off a plait of Merlin's beard, which could allow them to cast powerful spells against the druid. On the way back to Corinium, Arthur tells Derfel that he wants him and Ceinwyn to become Mordred's guardians in Dumnonia, as Culhwch has been having difficulty raising the boy. As Derfel travels to Powys to fetch Ceinwyn, tragedy strikes: Merlin's hall at Ynys Wydryn is burned to the ground and the Cauldron is stolen.
Part Three: Camelot
In the years following Aelle's defeat and the uneasy truce of Lindinis, peace nevertheless occurs in Arthur's Britain as Aelle and Cerdic fight among themselves for mastery of Lloegyr. Lancelot establishes the capital of his new kingdom at Venta. Guinevere leaves the Roman villa at Lindinis and has a new palace, the Sea Palace (later known as Camelot), built on the border between Dumnonia and Lancelot's kingdom. Arthur attempts to forge a permanent alliance by inviting representatives of each of the British kingdoms to put aside their disputes and swear oaths of loyalty to each other in what he calls the "Brotherhood of Britain", though Merlin believes the oaths will prove meaningless.
Derfel and Ceinwyn move to Lindinis with the six-year-old Mordred, and their daughter, Morwenna, is born there. She is followed by two other daughters, Seren and Dian. Derfel and Ceinwyn soon discover that Mordred is an insolent, wicked child whom they have difficulty controlling and who enjoys inflicting pain on others. Merlin, who lost his hall at Ynys Wydryn the night the Cauldron was stolen and now lives at Lindinis, expresses the belief that a demon got into the boy king the night of his birth, while the Christians tended to him. Despite their concerns, Arthur refuses to consider removing Mordred and insists that he will grow into a responsible leader with time. After many years of relative peace, Mordred is officially acclaimed King of Dumnonia on his fifteenth birthday.
Part Four: The Mysteries of Isis
Shortly after his acclamation, Mordred sends both Arthur and Derfel on an errand into Powys to capture the traitor Ligessac, who years earlier had betrayed Dumnonia and caused the death of Mordred's mother Norwenna at the hands of King Gundleus. Arthur and Derfel are ambushed by Christian fanatics led by Cadoc while attempting to apprehend Ligessac. They defeat the Christians, but afterward Derfel decides to travel south separately from Arthur to find his mother, whom he has not seen since she was captured in a raid when he was very young. He finds his mother still alive, but she has been enslaved for years and does not remember him. Upon speaking with her Derfel realizes that his father is Aelle, the Saxon king.
Seeing fires burning on the other side of the Severn, Derfel discovers that Lancelot has attempted to usurp the Dumnonian throne by inciting religious unrest. Arthur and Derfel are presumed killed in Cadoc's ambush, and Mordred is believed to be murdered. Mobs of fanatical Christians are hunting down pagans all across Dumnonia, announcing Lancelot as their savior king, and many of Arthur's oath-sworn bannermen have sided with Lancelot. Cerdic is besieging the majority of Arthur's army under Sagramor on Dumnonia's frontier.
Derfel eventually makes it home, where he discovers the druids Dinas and Lavaine have attacked his hall and are attempting to kidnap Ceinwyn and Merlin and bring them to Lancelot. Derfel and his men drive off Dinas and Lavaine, but during the battle Lavaine kills Derfel's youngest daughter, Dian. Derfel accompanies Ceinwyn and his daughters north to Powys and the protection of Cuneglas. There they are joined by Arthur and Mordred, who it is revealed was saved by Galahad from assassination. Confronted by Merlin, Mordred admits that it was Bishop Sansum's idea to distract Arthur and Derfel with the apprehension of Ligessac in order to enable the Christian uprising. Because of Mordred's incompetence in allowing Lancelot and his Christian followers to ravage Dumnonia, Arthur declares Mordred unfit to rule as king.
Arthur and his few remaining allies devise a plan to rescue Guinevere and Arthur's son Gwydre, who are being held captive by Lancelot's men at the Sea Palace. Arriving there, Derfel and Arthur inadvertently catch Guinevere in the midst of her ritual worship of the goddess Isis, by which she intends for the goddess to favor Lancelot as King of Dumnonia. It is revealed that the carnal rituals have involved Guinevere sleeping with Dinas and Lavaine, as well as with Lancelot. Heartbroken and enraged, Arthur slaughters the worshipers and takes Guinevere and Gwydre away. At the same time, Derfel captures Dinas and Lavaine and, with help from Nimue, brutally kills them, exacting his revenge for the death of his daughter. They also discover all of the missing Treasures of Britain, including the Cauldron, which had been hidden in Guinevere's temple to Isis. Abandoning his virtuous nature, Arthur storms and retakes Caer Cadarn. Lancelot's rebellion quickly loses momentum as word of Arthur's survival spreads and warriors from Dumnonia begin to rally to his banner. Lancelot retreats while Arthur asserts himself as Dumnonia's sole ruler, with Derfel as his champion.
- 1996, UK, Michael Joseph ISBN 0-7181-0051-4, 5 September 1996, first-edition hardcover
- 1997, UK, Penguin Books ISBN 0-14-023247-8, July 1997, paperback
- 1997, USA, St. Martins Press ISBN 0-312-15523-9, August 1997, hardcover
- 1998, USA, St. Martin's Griffin ISBN 0-312-18714-9, June 1998, paperback
Like its predecessor, Enemy of God has been praised for its "realistically gory battles" and "strong characterizations", and for putting a "fresh perspective on these oft-retold events". Kirkus Reviews called it "rousing, persuasive entertainment".
- "Enemy of God". Publishers Weekly. July 31, 1997.
- "The Winter King by Bernard Cornwell - Kirkus Review". Kirkus Reviews. May 20, 2010.