The Cycle was originally the "Pendragon Trilogy", but after Arthur's rather abrupt ending, and the existence of many unexplored stories and plotlines, Lawhead decided to expand on his trilogy by writing two prequels. Avalon is not considered to be a true member of the Cycle, but rather a 'related semi-sequel' to it.
The series is work of fiction that takes place in the 5th and 6th Centuries and attempts to present the Arthurian legends in a historical setting while presenting the story with a reality the reader can connect with. Lawhead bases his stories on the Mabinogion, the History of the Kings of Britain and other works of Geoffrey of Monmouth, the writings of Taliesin, Gildas, and Nennius, and several other legends that he manages to interweave into the Arthurian legend.
The books, with the exception of Taliesin and Avalon, are narrated in the first-person, and, except for Pendragon, Grail, and Avalon, are each split into three sections (Pendragon has four, Grail one, and Avalon five). Merlin and Pendragon are narrated by Myrddin (Merlin). The first third of Arthur is narrated by Pelleas, the second by Bedwyr (Bedivere), and the third by Aneirin/Gildas. Grail is mostly narrated by Gwalchavad (Galahad), with a short narration by Morgian (Morgan le Fay) at the beginning of most chapters. Taliesin follows Taliesin and Charis (the Lady of the Lake), alternating in each chapter; Avalon mostly follows James Stuart (the reborn Arthur), Merlin, and the fictional Prime Minister Thomas Waring.
(see also List of Roman place names in Britain)
|Series Name||Modern Name|
|Afon Treont||River Trent|
|Avallon||Isle of Man/Avalon|
|Ynys Avallach||Glastonbury Tor/Annwn/Avalon|
|Dal Riata||Dál Riata|
|Edyn Rock||Arthur's Seat|
|Londinium Road||Watling Street|
|Llyonesse||Isles of Scilly|
|Mor Hafren||Bristol Channel|
|Muir Éireann||Irish Sea|
|Muir Nicht||"The Narrow Seas" (English Channel)|
|Ynys Prydein||"Isle of the Mighty" (Great Britain)|
|Rotunda||The Round Table|
|Saecsen Shore||Saxon Shore|
|"Shrine Hill"||Glastonbury Abbey|
|Venta Belgarum/Caer Uintan||Winchester|
|"The Wall"||Hadrian's Wall|
|Ynys Witrin||"Isle of Glass" (Glastonbury)|
Many historical personas (some already included in the Arthurian legend) exist in the Cycle, alongside less "factual" characters: Taliesin, Magnus Maximus, Theodosius, Ambrosius Aurelianus, Vortigern, Constantine III, Myrddin Wyllt, Clovis I, Gwyddno Garanhir, Elphin, Horsa, Hengest, Cerdic, Aelle, Gildas, and Aneirin (in the series, it is revealed that the last two are the same person; born with the name Aneirin, he changes it to Gildas after Arthur's death).
|Series Character||Historical/Legendary Basis/es|
|Arthur/Artos/Artorius ap Aurelius||King Arthur|
|Charis||Lady of the Lake|
|Fergus mac Guillomar||Leondegrance/Fergus mor|
|Ganieda (Merlin's wife)||Ganieda (Merlin's sister in Welsh legend)|
|"Joseph's Thorn"||Holy Thorn|
|Macsen Wledig||Magnus Maximus|
|Morgian||Morgan le Fay/Nimue/Modron|
|Paulinus/Paulus||St. Paulinus of York|
It should be remembered that although Lawhead retains an authentic and well researched grasp of the Arthurian legend, he was not concerned with writing a work of pure history. Therefore, any historical inconsistencies in his work should be taken in this context.