The Killing Way

Image of The Killing Way
Release Date: 
March 30, 2009
Forge Books
Reviewed by: 

“Powerfully told, and atmospherically driven, this is one of the most bona fide and intelligent Arthurian sagas to grace a book in a very long time.”

Welcome to fifth century Britain: The Romans have left, the Saxons have invaded, the towns are decaying, and the countryside dangerous. A young leader has forged a reputation as a both a warrior and a diplomat and supreme power is within his grasp. But Camelot does not exist; chivalry is nonexistent; betrayal and treachery are endemic. This is not the Arthur of legend. And neither is this Arthur’s story.

This tale belongs to its grim narrator, Malgwyn ap Cuneglas, a man whose broken life mirrors the broken Roman roads that divide the landscape. His wife is murdered by the Saxons, and he leaves his only daughter behind in seeking revenge. His one aim in life is to kill as many Saxons as possible.

Unfortunately for Malgwyn, more tragedy follows, and his formidable fighting hand is chopped off in battle. Once a fearless warrior, he should have lost his life when he lost that hand, but Arthur saved him, condemning Malgwyn to a half-life as a meager scribe.

Hate for Author reigns in his heart as he takes to drink to fall into the darkness of the wretched. But life eventually takes a strange turn for Malgwyn when a young peasant girl, Eleonore, is brutally murdered and her heart left in the home of Arthur’s beloved teacher, the wizard known as Merlin. Arthur’s reputation is threatened because Merlin suddenly looks to be a maniac and slayer of the innocent.
Malgwyn is tasked with solving the mystery and safeguarding the stability of Arthur’s newborn realm.

But is Malgwyn the right person for such an important task? Will his hatred of Arthur finally come to the fore, and help him bring down not only Merlin, but Arthur as well?

Noir in medieval times? Perhaps a hard concept to sell to those readers less inclined to read historical novels of knights in shining armor. Thankfully, the knights of The Killing Way are anything but shining, and it’s to Mr. Hays’ credit that he brings not only authenticity to a story told many times, but unabashed originality.

Thought you knew everything there was to know about the legend of Camelot? Think again. Gritty. Dark. Dirty. Noir has suddenly been brought to life on the battlefields of Britannia, in all its twisted glory.

The Killing Way is the first in a new series by Mr. Hays, and it delivers in bloody spades. Powerfully told, and atmospherically driven, this is one of the most bona fide and intelligent Arthurian sagas to grace a book in a very long time. Can’t wait for the sequel.