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Best Books on the Legend of King Arthur

King Arthur

King Arthur

My favourite books on Arthur, King of Britain

I've always been fascinated by Arthur, who was the man who inspired such a long-lasting legend?

You've heard of the chivalrous knights, of many-towered Camelot, of shining gallantry and of bloody battles beneath the pageantry and pomp. You also know the tales of thwarted love, of deception, and of betrayal. The startling wizard, the faithful friend and the search for the Holy Grail. But was there ever a real Arthur? I believe there was.

I met Arthur when I was 9, and I still avidly read about the legend. These are my favourite books, simply the best books on Arthur, King of Britain

Personal Favourites

The search for Arthur seized my dreams when The Boy's King Arthur Sir Thomas Malory's History of King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table Edited for Boys By Sidney Lanier fell into my hands. I was 9 years old and ensorcelled!

The mysteries of that far away mist-shrouded land held me captivated and and motivated my studies for almost 40 years.

Since then I must have read every new novel, (many good, many more bad, but most of them predictably indifferent) and I'm left with my personal favourites.

Sword at Sunset - Rosemary Sutcliff

The late Rosemary Sutcliff wrote historical novels, wonderful stirring novels not fantasy, and she gave us a painstaking and imaginative reconstruction of the desolate time when the Legions marched away from Britain forever.

The Mists of Avalon

You must have read this classic from the pen of Marian Zimmer Bradley by now.

If you haven't, this interpretation of Arthur told from the perspective of powerful women characters can be summed up in one word - masterpiece. I'll say that twice - masterpiece.

The focus, and the protagonist of this book is not Arthur, but Morgaine. We have met her in earlier tales as the enemy of Arthur, but in this book she is his sister and a priestess of Avalon.

The book also paints deep portraits of the other women around Arthur -- his mother, Igraine, his wife Gwenhyfar, Morgause, queen of Lothian, and Vivienne, Lady of the Lake.

Do you have the Mists of Avalon?

Mary Stewart's Merlin Trilogy

The story of Merlin, the magical wise man who mentored Arthur.

The Merlin Trilogy is a classic of the Arthurian genre. Mary Stewart presents her fantastical but realistic character, Merlin, in an spellbinding portrayal. Memorable and awe inspiring. I can't recommend them highly enough.

The books are The Crystal Cave, The Hollow Hills, and The Last Enchantment.

You'll be entranced and engrossed by this magical story of Merlin, Arthur's wizard mentor.

Merlin has been portrayed many times, but Stewart's vision is unique. A classic. I just love this interpretation, utterly believable and a great yarn as well.

The last book, (we can call it a trilogy no longer), The Wicked Day, is the story of Mordred and his rebellion against Arthur, an act which brought both of their lives to a terrible end.

I revelled in reading once more Stewart's spectacular story of Merlin. If you haven't read these then you're in for a wonderful treat!

If only I could give more than 5 stars!f only there were more writers to tell tales as grand as these!

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Mary Stewart - Three books bundled together

The Once and Future King

This book is strangely hard to describe. It's amusing, a comedy with some hysterical twists and at the same time an expose of the brutality of violence, domination and dictatorship. Witty, ironic, pacifistic, perceptive and superbly crafted.

Yet another dimension to the re-telling of Arthurian legend and in one word - whimsical

The Pendragon Cycle

A breathtaking work by acclaimed author Stephen R. Lawhead.

I'm always looking for tales of the Matter of Britain and, while there are great numbers out there, I'm hard to please. Can you recommend a good one? I want a good, enthralling story, I love historical accuracy (as far as possible), but I also love fantasy and if some basis of historical fact is laid down for a fantasy flight, I am more than eager to read.

But the author must be able to write well, I've seen too many that fall down with poor structure and even poorer English. Stephen R.Lawhead is a great storyteller, he has studied and loves his subject and he can write.

In his trilogy, the Pendragon Cycle, the emphasis is not on Arthur, for the story and the great events that shaped the world are placed fairly and squarely in the hands of Merlin.

Five Books in the Pendragon Cycle

There's a fifth book in the series as well. This final is the familiar tale of Arthur transformed - and brought to its unfamiliar conclusion

Bernard Cornwell - a thrilling series

I really like Cornwell's depiction. It's hard hitting and shouts of the truth. There are a lot of battle accounts in these books, details of strategy and details of the bloody fighting. I'm not usually happy with battle scenes but Cornwell explains the overall plan and, besides, the stories themselves are so good I can overlook any gore.