Submitted By gpsteward
English III Honors
Derfel Cadarn is the protagonist as well as the narrator of the Warlord Chronicles written by Bernard Cornwell. Igraine, the Queen of Powys, asks an old Derfel to write the story about his past, the story of Arthur. Derfel begins the novel, first Winter King when he was just an orphan child taken by Merlin, a Druid, and in the second novel, Enemy of God, and the last novel Excalibur ends with Derfel well into his adulthood. Derfel develops from a timid child, to a developing man, and then a heroic one.
Beginning with Winter King, Derfel Cadarn is only just a child. As odd as it may seem, Derfel’s lovers throughout the two novels are a tremendous developing factor. Derfel portrays himself as a foolish boy, for an example, “I can blush now when I think of a young boy’s desperate lunges at a woman’s affection,” on page 51, he had confessed his “love” to Nimue at this moment and reflects back on it in embarrassment. Although Derfel had not gotten together with Nimue then, he did acquire a youthful relationship with a young woman named Lunete. His relationship with Lunete did not last very long at all but during this time Derfel had just went with whatever Lunete had wanted. He says, “Lunete, like my new beard, was a sign of manhood and I wore both clumsily,” on page 114, basically saying Lunete was his first step into manhood but he was still not quite there. As the story progresses, Derfel begins to put action towards his love for Nimue and goes to find her in the Isle of the Dead. This is one of Derfel’s first heroic adventure as well as his first adventure alone. Derfel never backed down during his travels to the Isle of the Dead, which his progression already from being a puppet to Lunete and being a hero to Nimue. Nimue and Derfel had never became husband and wife but rather just close allies after he’d rescued her. Nimue was an adventure herself to Derfel but never someone he had settled down with. Derfel, now well into adulthood, falls in love with yet another woman named Ceinwyn. Ceinwyn and Derfel had basically become husband and wife but never officially. Derfel was loyal and settled down with her, having 3 daughters as well as sons that had never lived long. Derfel is already mostly done progressing at this point, and protects his family as well lead warriors. His lovers were essentially like timelines in Derfel’s progression.
In contrast, Derfel was born by a Saxon mother and father but raised by Britons, so Derfel considers himself British. Throughout Winter King, Derfel reflects back on hearing the screams of children and women when his original Saxon home was raided by Britons. This is a key part in the maturation of Derfel because in the end, he finally avenges himself. Derfel was thrown in a death pit during the raid, but was the only one who had survived meaning he had the ability to kill Tanaburs, the King of Britain Gundleus’ Druid. Within the last few pages, Derfel finally full of rage and hatred, kills Tanaburs by swinging a sword right down the side of his body. This was really the first time Derfel had ever done something for himself. In the last novel, Excalibur, Derfel is separated from Arthur entirely in the beginning of the battle in Myndd Badon. In this battle, Derfel meets his true father yet again, and kills him. Whereas most cowardly men, or a young Derfel, would have joined sides with his Saxon father, Derfel stays loyal and true to who he is.
Lastly, Derfel had remained loyal to Arthur throughout most of the novels. Derfel was seen as one of Arthur’s disciples, but soon separates from Arthur because of what he truly believes. In the first two novels, Derfel seems to just watch the rise and downfall of Arthur, not doing much about it even if Derfel believes otherwise. Derfel allows Arthur to take control of his actions, and even once allows Arthur to hit him, but of course, Derfel brushes it off. Soon enough though, Derfel realizes that Mordred, the child King of Dumnonia, is causing the downfall of Arthur, so Derfel splits from Arthur.
Derfel eventually reunites, to witness another one of Arthur’s tragedies. Although, Derfel had his most valuable events without Arthur, beginning with the Isle of the Dead, and ending with the first part of the battle in Myndd Bardon. In that battle, Derfel takes charge whereas usually it would be Arthur to take charge. He protects and plots against the Saxons with help, but nonetheless without Arthur. Without Arthur was the rise of Derfel
A confident Derfel, instead of the young timid one, managed to achieve quite a bit throughout all of the three novels. Again, Derfel goes from being a timid young boy to a heroic man within the three novels Although Derfel writes the tale of Arthur, Derfel is seen as the true hero in the Warlord Chronicles by Bernard Cornwell.