The long period of turmoil that enveloped Europe in the wake of the fall of Rome was so devoid of recognisable written records that historians lazily dubbed it the ‘Dark Ages'. Modern archaeological discoveries, and a reassessment of the scanty written evidence that does survive from Europe's big sleep, have, excitingly, enabled contemporary historians to confirm what the myths and the legends suggest: that the 'barbarian' cultures that succeeded Rome were richer, more complex and more 'civilised' than the Rome-worshippers allowed. And the Arthurian legends, it seems, were more than likely grounded in a thick mulch of verifiable fact.
Even so, the Dark Ages still spawned many myth-makers. Allan Massie, in his trilogy of Dark Age novels (The Evening of the World, Arthur the King and now this, the culminating volume), proves himself a modern Malory, producing enchanting fiction from a mix of historical truth and his own informed