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Thread: Books based on the legend of King Arthur

  1. #1
    practical experience, FTW kaylim's Avatar
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    Oct 2016

    Books based on the legend of King Arthur

    So, there's been a lot of these. Le Morte D'Arthur is probably the most influential. My personal favorites are the Warlord Chronicles by Bernard Cornwell. Those books are some of my all-time favorites. The Once and Future King (which I'm currently re-reading) I also found really good. I haven't yet read the Mary Zimmerman Bradley stories though its been on my list to read for decades. I think the whole legend is really poetic and classic. It has to be really hard to write a unique Arthurian novel in basically the oldest fan fiction community that has ever existed. Any thoughts on novels about King Arthur or the legends?

    Btw I always thought Gawain and the Green Knight was a very underrated story.

  2. #2
    Herder of Hamsters AW Admin's Avatar
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    Apr 2008
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    My dissertation features Sir Gawain and the Green Knight; I dearly love it.*

    My personal favorite Arthurian re-telling is the Merlin Quartet by Mary Stewart, starting with The Crystal Cave. I'm about to re-read them for the first time in over twenty years, and thinking about blogging as I read.

    I'm very much not a fan of Mists of Avalon and sequels.

    My other favorite re-telling is not specifically identified as an Arthurian anything, but it is. I's very like what a Romano-British War lord might be like, told from the POV of a warrior who served him. Jo Walton's The King's Peace and The King's Name, and a "prequel" called The Prize in the Game.

    * I dearly love SGGK; I am not fond of my dissertation which I regard as a rite of passage and the culmination of years of expensive torture for the amusement o others.
    Last edited by AW Admin; 05-22-2017 at 05:54 AM. Reason: clarity

  3. #3
    practical experience, FTW kaylim's Avatar
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    Oct 2016
    My other favorite re-telling is not specifically identified as an Arthurian anything, but it is. I's very like what a Romano-British War lord might be like, told from the POV of a warrior who served him. Jo Walton's The King's Peace and The King's Name, and a "prequel" called The Prize in the Game.
    That sounds very similar to the Warlord Chronicles. Its basically a story of Celtic Britain and as close as you can get to what it probably historically looked like. I'll definitely check out the Crystal Cave and those Jo Walton books.

  4. #4
    practical experience, FTW
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    Jan 2017
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    Yes to Mary Stewart! -- she is underrated in so many ways and I love that cool intelligence at work.

    I haven't read TH White's The Once and Future King in years, but that had a tremendous influence on the field of Arthurian studies.

    Classical scholar Gillian Bradshaw: The Down the Long Wind trilogy Hawk of May, Kingdom of Summer and In Winter's Shadow. And I think Rosemary Sutcliff also retold Arthurian legends, I recall reading her Tristan & Yseult as a teenager.

  5. #5
    practical experience, FTW
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    In addition to Malory's classic, other early accounts include Chretien de Troyes' Arthurian Chronicles and Wolfram von Eschenbach's Parzival. John Steinbeck also wrote an account, aimed at young people, as I recall.

    Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels it finds the darkness has always got there first, and is waiting for it.

    -- Terry Pratchett

  6. #6
    practical experience, FTW bombergirl69's Avatar
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    Mar 2015
    Seconding (or thirding) Mary Stewart - a terrific writer and LOVED that series (Hollow Hills in particular)

    I also loved Mists of Avalon for entirely different reasons. Really, a very different take/story. A good friend went over for some kind of women's annual celebration and said it was magic.

    Haven't read Bernard Cornwall's series but did like his Sharpe stuff.
    The fact that there's a highway to hell and only a stairway to heaven says a lot about anticipated traffic numbers.

  7. #7
    I aim to misbehave Myrealana's Avatar
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    I enjoyed the Camulod Chronicles (aka The Dream of Eagles) series by Jack Whyte. It starts with Romans left behind when the empire left the British Isles and covers a couple hundred years to the end of Arthur's reign.
    -- Myrea
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  8. #8
    figuring it all out airandarkness's Avatar
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    May 2017
    Also a fan of Mary Stewart's Merlin series and a HUGE fan of Bernard Cornwell's trilogy. Best take I've read so far, I think.

    I tried Lawhead's Pendragon Cycle and wasn't too into it, especially once he got beyond telling Merlin's part of the story. Nevertheless, I kind of want to try his other Arthurian series, which I think is time-travel story.

    And of course, I love The Once and Future King.

    I actually have a YA King Arthur novel on submission right now (well, I did - I temporarily halted submissions to get some feedback from beta readers).

  9. #9
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin justaddgigi's Avatar
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    Jul 2015
    San Antonio, TX
    One of my favorite authors Patricia Kennealy Morrison does a great sci-fi Arthurian novels as part of her The Keltiad series.
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  10. #10
    Likes metaphors mixed, not stirred Chris P's Avatar
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    Nov 2009
    Arlington, VA
    Second on loving Once and Future King. It launched my teenage love affair with fantasy.

    Second on not caring for Mists of Avalon. Although I found the world enchanting, the characters were cardboard cut outs to me and not much seemed to happen by the 25% mark, where I gave up on it.
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  11. #11
    In Honor of Peter Tomich,USS Utah Komnena's Avatar
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    May 2007
    King Louie's town
    Sutcliff's Arthur book is Sword at Sunset. I would also recommend Joan Wolf's Born of the Sun. It's not actually about Arthur but is set during the time the Saxons were conquering England. I'd recommend the Sutcliff book first then reading the Wolf book right after the Sutcliff.
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  12. #12
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin Quillandink's Avatar
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    May 2014
    If you want to try something with a bit of humour

    Arthur Rex by Thomas Berger

    Still holds a special place on my bookshelf after a few decades.

  13. #13
    Just Another Lazy Perfectionist Brightdreamer's Avatar
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    Apr 2012
    Nobody's mentioned T. A. Barron's The Lost Years of Merlin series yet? It's not quite Arthurian, but tracks a young Merlin's development, the development of his second sight and how he comes to grips with powers he doesn't want. The first one was quite well done. (One of those I keep meaning to get back to...)

    Jane Yolen also wrote a trilogy on Merlin's origins, the Young Merlin trilogy.
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