Monday, March 29, 2010

Books By Theme: Arthurian Legend



The source for all Arthurian legends since its publication in 1485, Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte D’Arthur  is the classic text, relating the rape of Igraine, the birth of Arthur, the sword and the stone, the wedding to Guenever, and the many feats of the knights. A great companion is The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights, John Steinbeck’s retelling of Malory’s text.

Comprising four books, T.H. White’s The Once and Future King is the version of the Arthurian saga most readers know as it inspired the Broadway musical Camelot. The first book, “The Sword in the Stone,” relates Merlyn’s tutoring of a young Wart. The remaining books recount Arthur’s seduction by his half-sister, describe the creation of the Round Table, introduce Lancelot and Guinevere, and reveal the dark presence of Mordred. As Arthur’s tragedy unfolds, White’s story becomes darker and his characters more complex.

In Guenevere: Queen of the Summer Country, Rosalind Miles conceives a Camelot ruled by queens where goddess worship reigns. In the lushly beautiful Summer Country, Guenevere lives a tranquil life—until her mother is killed and the kingdom teeters on the edge of destruction. Arthur offers marriage to unite their two lands, leaving Guenevere free to reign as Queen. However, this union brings Morgause, Morgan, and Merlin into Guenevere’s world, and all three will wreak havoc on Camelot.


Bernard Cornwell also displays a deft hand at mixing history with action. The Winter King is a darkly raw tale of the inner political workings of Arthur’s world. Here, Arthur is a complex and flawed figure, surrounded by players with dangerous motivations—Lancelot is particularly loathsome. In another twist, Arthur is in service to King Mordred. (My favorite novel portraying a flawed Arthur is Philip Reeve's Here Lies Arthur.)

~ For more themed book lists, check out Listless by One Librarian's Book Reviews and Listed by Once Upon a Bookshelf ~

~ All summaries from Library Journal ~ 


12 comments:

Kate said...

I love Arthurian books! I've read Morte d'Arthur and The Once and Future King, while Here Lies Arthur is working it's way to the top of my TBR list. Other Arthurian books I've enjoyed are The Mists of Avalon, and the Mary Stuart trilogy (The Crystal Cave, The Hollow Hills, The Last Enchantment).

Another interesting twist on the Arthur legend is The Lyre of Orpheus by Robertson Davies, where all of the modern-day characters have Arthurian parallels.

Court said...

Ooh, I did something really similar to this six months ago (http://books.moonsoar.com/archives/2009/09/21/listed-arthurian-legend-in-fiction/). I love Arthurian legend!

Tribute Books said...

thanks! for the review, sounds interesting.

Milli said...

Now I feel really bad about not reading any of those. *Walks away* "Off to find some"

Zibilee said...

I have never read any books about Arthur, but have recently bought a few. One of the ones I did get was The Merlin Trilogy by Mary Stewart, after reading Aarti's great review of it. Of course I also got The Mists of Avalon as well, but I haven't yet started either. I am looking forward to trying them out and maybe adding a few from this list to my collection. Thanks for the great post!

Lindsay-with-an-A said...

I really enjoy Arthurian legends, as well, but you missed my favorite: A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. I love Mark Twain. :)

SariJ said...

I have read most of the books you wrote about. I have yet to read the Cornwell, but will look for it now. The Stewart series has always been a favorite, yet The Once and Future King has been the one I have re-read several times.

amy said...

My favorite Arthurian book is the Mists of Avalon, by far. I read it one year over summer break in my teens. That is not a short book!:) But so worth it.

Ryan G said...

My favorite Arthurian offshoot is actually a poem, "The Lady of Shalott" by Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

Veens said...

First of all... I love the redesigned blog.. and I want to do the same for mine too. Wow.. it totally rocks and I love Blue.
The funny thing is I have not read anything about Arthurian legend till date. And I think I should, i will bookmark this post and get the books when i can!

Muse in the Fog said...

Thanks for posting these! I have always loved the Arthurian times but have not really read many books set in that period. I have indeed heard of three of these and I am now determined to read them soon :)

Kelly said...

Reading this blog reminds me of an author I know. Angelica Harris is a domestic abuse survivor, and much of her own life’s healing has come through writing. Her recent book, Excalibur Reclaims Her King, is the story of a modern day mother sent back to 6th Century to heal Merlin and raise King Arthur from the dead. Check out her website and books, www.angelicaharris.com.