The thing about David Drake is that he absolutely refuses to be bound by sentimental genre restrictions that he hasn't agreed to. And this is a typical, albeit early, example of him doing that. His Arthur isn't the doomed romantic of T.H. White; he's a historically believable conqueror, every bit as credible -- and unsavory -- as Genghis Khan, Attila the Hun, or Ibn Saud. Drake's protagonists, while capable of some personal nobility, aren't cookie-cutter heroes, or even the more complex (and also thoroughly enjoyable) ones from White -- they're the sorts of folks who simply don't let cutting a few throats bother them. This is probably the most original take on the whole Arthurian thing that I've ever read, and I've read quite a few.
There is retelling of traditional folklore. There is new, innovative fantasy fiction made up from the imagination of a modern author. And then there is the cheap ripoff of the first in the guise of the latter. David Drake is a marginal author, and has very little new or original in any book of his that I have read. I thought perhaps this would be different, but I see he is set in a formulaic rut, where characters are wooden, plots are obvious, and all the old archetypes get trotted out in the hope of capitalizing on their popularity. If you are looking for anything new or different, you will not find it here.
This is not a typical King Arther tale in which the king is the primary character. Arther plays a role but it is minor compared to the two main heros in the story. It has an interesting take on the personality and the physical characteristics of Arther. An fun book to read because it is not the same old thing.