Summary and book reviews of The Killing Way by Tony Hays

The Killing Way

By Tony Hays

The Killing Way
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  • Hardcover: Mar 2009,
    272 pages.
    Paperback: Mar 2010,
    272 pages.

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Book Summary

It is the time of Arthur, but this is not his storied epic. Arthur is a young and powerful warrior who some would say stands on the brink of legend. Britain’s leaders have come to elect a new supreme king, and Arthur is favored. But when a young woman is brutally murdered and the blame is placed at Merlin’s feet, Arthur’s reputation is at stake and his enemies are poised to strike. Arthur turns to Malgwyn ap Cuneglas, a man whose knowledge of battle and keen insight into how the human mind works has helped Arthur come to the brink of kingship.

Malgwyn is also the man who hates Arthur most in the world.

After the death of Malgwyn's wife by Saxon hands, he became Mad Malgwyn, killer of Saxons and right-hand lieutenant to the warrior Arthur. Right hand, that is, until a Saxon cut his sword arm off and left him to die on the battlefield. Arthur rescued him. Now a one-armed scribe and a heavy drinker, Malgwyn rejects the half-life that his liege gave him. But loyalty is sometimes stronger than loathing…and Malgwyn is pulled toward a puzzle that he can’t walk away from.

Think CSI: Medieval: gritty, powerful, and with the true ring of historical perspective and a character who sees more than those around him. The Killing Way is the first in a mystery series that is sure to be a hit with both mystery readers and historical fans alike.

Chapter One

"Pleasure myself with a one-armed man?" the wench had whined. "'Tisn't likely." But half a chilly night and a full skin of wine later, she chanted a different tune. And I was forgetting that I was half a man.

Until someone grabbed me about the neck and lifted me from between her legs.

Until someone flung me across the hut, and I crumpled against the stone and stick wall.

My attacker first appeared as a fuzzy shape, and anger welled up in me as I shook my head to clear it and the figure became better defined. Then he spoke, and the anger filled my throat and threatened to choke off my breath. "It does not surprise me," the tall, bearded man said with a frown, "to find you wasting yourself with a drunken wench."

Not only had I been savagely torn from a night of drink and pleasure, but the culprit was none other than my Lord Arthur, a man who had saved my life — and the man whom I hated with all my heart....

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Reviews

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The Killing Way is not the story of knights and chivalry one might expect in a novel about King Arthur's time. Hays focuses on the historical Arthur and his environs. He strips away the legends and myths surrounding the well-known hero of the romantic age, portraying instead a warrior and leader who may have existed around 500 CE. Indeed, the book is more historical fiction than mystery; one of its major strengths being Hays's ability to convey a realistic sense of time and place. The reader is transported to what amounts to a garrison town in medieval Britain; there are no fine castles in this story.....   (Reviewed by Kim Kovacs).

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Media Reviews
Author Blurb Geoffrey Ashe, leading Arthurian scholar and author of Merlin: The Prophet & His History
A vivid and original detective story, The Killing Way is an unusual Arthurian murder mystery set against an evocative fifth century background that is more genuine than the usual Arthurian fare. Yes, it might actually have been like that.

Booklist

The popularity of both historical mysteries and new twists on the Arthurian tales will provide a tailor-made audience for this promising new series

Publishers Weekly.

Starred Review. History buffs as well as mystery fans will be amply rewarded.

Library Journal

Starred Review. This fascinating blend of history and fiction by the author of Murder in the Latin Quarter is sure to engage fans of both Bernard Cornwell and Ellis Peters. Highly recommended.

Kirkus Reviews

Earthy, densely plotted and likely to have readers eagerly awaiting the next installment.

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Beyond the Book

King Arthur - history or myth?
No one is sure if there was truly a person named Arthur who was a ruler of the Britons. Evidence for his existence is scant at best.

The first complete account of the life of King Arthur appeared in Historia Regum Britanniae (History of the Kings of Britain), written in 1137 - 1138 CE by Geoffrey of Monmouth. Geoffrey surely used historic accounts, but modern scholars believe that he fabricated much of his text, and that other parts were a combination of traditions relating to multiple rulers. Regardless of its inaccuracy, it was very popular and influential. Many manuscript copies of this document have survived into the 21st century.

The legends surrounding King Arthur are generally ...

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