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King Arthur ------non fiction (scroll down for fiction)
5 stars= couldn't put it down
4 stars= good enough to keep me reading
3 stars= an average read
2 stars= not great
1 star= a waste of time
- The Arthurian Legends selected and introduced by Richard Barber. If you want to start reading adult sources of where the legends began this is a good anthology. Excerpts of texts from Geoffrey of Monmouth through T.H. White are richly illustrated with photos of archeological finds and Arthurian art through the centuries. Chapters are introduced with commentary which follows the traditional view of Roman domination and British barbarianism.
The Discovery of King Arthur by Geoffrey Ashe. If you like to speculate on the authenticity of the Arthurian Legends, this is fascinating. Ashe (distinguished historian and member of Debrett's Peerage) makes a case for Arthur being a known historical figure whose deeds were recorded under a different name. Curious? Also follows the traditional view.
The Holy Kindgom by Adrian Gilbert. Subtitled 'The Quest for the Real King Arthur,' this book presents the work of two researchers (Alan Wilson and Baram Blackett) who have extensively studied ancient Welsh manuscripts and believe they have uncovered many sites pertaining to Arthur. They claim the geneologies support two Arthurs which would explain why his recorded deeds seem to fit into both first and sixth century histories. The work is well-presented and well-documented. It is also so readable that I could not put it down. It will undoubtedly be controversial, but what search for knowledge is not? The final chapter adds some wild speculation concerning the Holy Grail, which the authors throw in just for the reaction, simply proposing a theory for further discussion.
King Arthur ------ fiction
Taliesen by Stephen Lawhead. This is the first of the five books of Lawhead's Pendragon Cycle. Presented from the perspective of Christianity reaching Britian early in the first century (a near-certain historical truth) this is the beginning of a wonderful re-telling of the entire legend beginning with the lost City of Atlantis. Taliesen (an historical Welsh bard of great fame) is presented as an offspring of the Atlantean survivors. The Lawhead books are excellent, making the legends more readable for modern taste with a great richness and believability.
Merlin by Stephen Lawhead. Book two of the Pendragon Cycle. Merlin is introduced as the son of Talieson. Lawhead weaves many familiar and unfamiliar ancient tales of Merlin's abilities into this story. A great book!
Arthur by Stephen Lawhead. Book three of the Pendragon Cycle. Perhaps the most difficult part of reading the Lawhead books is that the teller of the story changes in each volume. Once you adjust to the new perspective this settles in to a wonderful tale of battles and comrades-in-arms as Arthur becomes High King of Britain.
3/00 Pendragon by Stephen Lawhead. Book four of the Pendragon Cycle. This is the weakest of the Lawhead books, but it's still pretty good. This book overlaps the time period of Arthur and backs up to tell a version of the domestic treachery we have come to associate with Camelot.
3/00 Grail by Stephen Lawhead. Book five of the Pendragon Cycle. Arthur's obsession with the powers of the Grail nearly bring ruin to the kingdom. This is an interesting twist to pull the disconnected tales of the quest for the Grail into a unified story.
Sword at Sunset by Rosemary Sutcliff. So far this is my favorite modern version of the story of Arthur! Arthur himself is the teller, and her word pictures, metaphors which fit the time period, and understanding of war strategy is superb. You will believe you are there with Arthur, Cei and Bedwyr. This was written in the 1960's, and I don't really understand why it is not a better-known book. The philosphical slant is that Arthur is not fully accepting of either the ancient Druid religion or of Christianity.
King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table by Sidney Lanier. Published in 1950 as part of the Illustrated Junior Library series this is an extremely difficult book to read. The stories have been simplified for junior readers, but the language is so stilted and convoluted that I didn't enjoy it very much. It seemed to me that the phrasing goes beyond preserving the feeling of the time period, and is just plain confusing.
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c.1997 by Joan H. Young please do not copy without permission firstname.lastname@example.org
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