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The Legends of King Arthur and His Knights

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King Arthur is a legendary British leader who, according to Medieval histories and romances, led the defense of Britain against Saxon invaders in the early sixth century. The details of Arthur's story are mainly composed of folklore and literary invention, and his historical existence is debated and disputed by modern historians. The sparse historical background of Arthur King Arthur is a legendary British leader who, according to Medieval histories and romances, led the defense of Britain against Saxon invaders in the early sixth century. The details of Arthur's story are mainly composed of folklore and literary invention, and his historical existence is debated and disputed by modern historians. The sparse historical background of Arthur is gleaned from various sources, including the Annales Cambriae, the Historia Brittonum, and the writings of Gildas. Arthur's name also occurs in early poetic sources such as Y Gododdin. The legendary Arthur developed as a figure of international interest largely through the popularity of Geoffrey of Monmouth's fanciful and imaginative 12th-century Historia Regum Britanniae (History of the Kings of Britain). However, some Welsh and Breton tales and poems relating the story of Arthur date from earlier than this work; in these works, Arthur appears either as a great warrior defending Britain from human and supernatural enemies or as a magical figure of folklore, sometimes associated with the Welsh Otherworld, Annwn. How much of Geoffrey's Historia (completed in 1138) was adapted from such earlier sources, rather than invented by Geoffrey himself, is unknown. Although the themes, events and characters of the Arthurian legend varied widely from text to text, and there is no one canonical version, Geoffrey's version of events often served as the starting point for later stories. Geoffrey depicted Arthur as a king of Britain who defeated the Saxons and established an empire over Britain, Ireland, Iceland, Norway and Gaul. In fact, many elements and incidents that are now an integral part of the Arthurian story appear in Geoffrey's Historia, including Arthur's father Uther Pendragon, the wizard Merlin, the sword Excalibur, Arthur's birth at Tintagel, his final battle against Mordred at Camlann and final rest in Avalon. The 12th-century French writer Chretien de Troyes, who added Lancelot and the Holy Grail to the story, began the genre of Arthurian romance that became a significant strand of medieval literature. In these French stories, the narrative focus often shifts from King Arthur himself to other characters, such as various Knights of the Round Table. Arthurian literature thrived during the Middle Ages but waned in the centuries that followed until it experienced a major resurgence in the 19th century. In the 21st century, the legend lives on, not only in literature but also in adaptations for theatre, film, television, comics and other media. The Sir James Knowles version of King Arthur is considered as the most accurate and well known original story of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.


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King Arthur is a legendary British leader who, according to Medieval histories and romances, led the defense of Britain against Saxon invaders in the early sixth century. The details of Arthur's story are mainly composed of folklore and literary invention, and his historical existence is debated and disputed by modern historians. The sparse historical background of Arthur King Arthur is a legendary British leader who, according to Medieval histories and romances, led the defense of Britain against Saxon invaders in the early sixth century. The details of Arthur's story are mainly composed of folklore and literary invention, and his historical existence is debated and disputed by modern historians. The sparse historical background of Arthur is gleaned from various sources, including the Annales Cambriae, the Historia Brittonum, and the writings of Gildas. Arthur's name also occurs in early poetic sources such as Y Gododdin. The legendary Arthur developed as a figure of international interest largely through the popularity of Geoffrey of Monmouth's fanciful and imaginative 12th-century Historia Regum Britanniae (History of the Kings of Britain). However, some Welsh and Breton tales and poems relating the story of Arthur date from earlier than this work; in these works, Arthur appears either as a great warrior defending Britain from human and supernatural enemies or as a magical figure of folklore, sometimes associated with the Welsh Otherworld, Annwn. How much of Geoffrey's Historia (completed in 1138) was adapted from such earlier sources, rather than invented by Geoffrey himself, is unknown. Although the themes, events and characters of the Arthurian legend varied widely from text to text, and there is no one canonical version, Geoffrey's version of events often served as the starting point for later stories. Geoffrey depicted Arthur as a king of Britain who defeated the Saxons and established an empire over Britain, Ireland, Iceland, Norway and Gaul. In fact, many elements and incidents that are now an integral part of the Arthurian story appear in Geoffrey's Historia, including Arthur's father Uther Pendragon, the wizard Merlin, the sword Excalibur, Arthur's birth at Tintagel, his final battle against Mordred at Camlann and final rest in Avalon. The 12th-century French writer Chretien de Troyes, who added Lancelot and the Holy Grail to the story, began the genre of Arthurian romance that became a significant strand of medieval literature. In these French stories, the narrative focus often shifts from King Arthur himself to other characters, such as various Knights of the Round Table. Arthurian literature thrived during the Middle Ages but waned in the centuries that followed until it experienced a major resurgence in the 19th century. In the 21st century, the legend lives on, not only in literature but also in adaptations for theatre, film, television, comics and other media. The Sir James Knowles version of King Arthur is considered as the most accurate and well known original story of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.

30 review for The Legends of King Arthur and His Knights

  1. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    I have this affliction. If I start a book, I HAVE to finish it. All my life, pretty much. I'm not sure I remember when I last (or ever) didn't finish a book. Until now. All my knowledge of the Arthurian legends is hearsay or pop-culture interpretations, so when I bought a Kindle and saw all the classics I could get for free, I jumped right on this one as a chance to get some more "original" references to King Arthur in my cultural experiences. Oh, how I wish I hadn't bothered. Firstly, the writing I have this affliction. If I start a book, I HAVE to finish it. All my life, pretty much. I'm not sure I remember when I last (or ever) didn't finish a book. Until now. All my knowledge of the Arthurian legends is hearsay or pop-culture interpretations, so when I bought a Kindle and saw all the classics I could get for free, I jumped right on this one as a chance to get some more "original" references to King Arthur in my cultural experiences. Oh, how I wish I hadn't bothered. Firstly, the writing. It's abysmal. Complete stream of consciousness rubbish. Knight X went here. He met this person. They fought to the -death. He met this woman, she was beautiful. He helped her. She was grateful. On and on and ON in this vein. 100% tell and 0% show. Secondly, the knights are all arrogant, judgemental pricks. E.g. Knight X sees 4 men chasing 1 man. He immediately assumes that the 1 man is in the right and the 4 men are in the wrong. Without asking anyone involved why the chase/fight is even occurring, he beats the other 4 men to a pulp to save the lone man. Thirdly, the knights are all thick as two short planks. All any knight has to do is wear the armour of some other knights and when he then meets his closest bosom friends, they have no idea who he is. Fourthly, the women are all completely one-dimensional and exist only to be saved (such beautiful damsels!) or to be saved from (evil wicked sorceresses!). I could go on, but I won't. I forced myself to get just over half the way through and simply could not go on. I suggest you never even give yourself the trouble. Go watch BBC's Merlin and enjoy the slashy subtexts, historical it may not be but at least it's FUN.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Robert

    It is good to read one of the sources that inspired later renditions. I am depressed to hear some disrespecting the story because they have trouble with an older style of writting. Folks, this is the bedrock and foundation of the later tales which have been such a mine for later authors. (That is, grist for the mill.) This is that which inspired the later tales, if you can't see what inspired the authors of later ages, then perhaps you lack the deeper vision.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    I was able to read this by myself so apparently I'm an 'advanced' reader. Take that, middle school accelerated reader tests! Anyhow, when I was younger I really liked this book. Exciting fights, quests to save princesses, rescuing villages from giants, etc. It was a lot of fun. Now that I'm older it seems more like the story of a bunch of sociopaths wandering the countryside and picking fights with each other because their 'honor' demands it. Okay, that's an exaggeration. The cannibalistic giants n I was able to read this by myself so apparently I'm an 'advanced' reader. Take that, middle school accelerated reader tests! Anyhow, when I was younger I really liked this book. Exciting fights, quests to save princesses, rescuing villages from giants, etc. It was a lot of fun. Now that I'm older it seems more like the story of a bunch of sociopaths wandering the countryside and picking fights with each other because their 'honor' demands it. Okay, that's an exaggeration. The cannibalistic giants needed to be killed and plenty of the false knights were really evil. But that doesn't change the fact that even the good knights pick fights with each other whenever they don't recognize each other (and then hugging and crying when they do). And there's very little characterization. Galahad's incorruptibly pure, Key is a coward, Gawain is hot-headed and Lancelot is a boss but everyone else seems to be roughly the same character. That being said, I did enjoy rereading it if only for the nostalgia and because my knowledge of European history and geography is better so I know where more of these people are from and where the stories are taking place. And a side note that I found funny. When I was a kid I thought this was actual history. Despite the preface talking about how it's all legends, morality tales and chivalric romances. I think I realized I was wrong about the same time I realized that the Soviet Union didn't exist anymore. Ah young, dumb me.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Obrigewitsch

    I'm going to be charitable and give this 2 stars. These stories may have been entertaining 400 years ago, but literature has greatly advanced, and societally has advanced from being mostly illiterate to highly literate. These stories may be fun to read one a night to your kids, but when done rapidly they wear on one, the characters have no personality and the action consists of sentence after sentence of who smote who with their sword, and then at the end a helm gets cleaved in two, rinse repeat I'm going to be charitable and give this 2 stars. These stories may have been entertaining 400 years ago, but literature has greatly advanced, and societally has advanced from being mostly illiterate to highly literate. These stories may be fun to read one a night to your kids, but when done rapidly they wear on one, the characters have no personality and the action consists of sentence after sentence of who smote who with their sword, and then at the end a helm gets cleaved in two, rinse repeat every ten pages.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Gastjäle

    3.5 / 5.0 I acknowledge that in the modern world, the tales of valour and woe must needs be filled with passing wondrous tales and finely-devised quests to set the bedside traveller a-galloping into the vast forests of his fancy. The coursers rush on with might and main and fall dead under the rider yet the spirit of the quest keeps the bookish knight athirst for more. But woe betide the Man who expecteth mountains of gold to maintain their goodly promises of fortune forevermore. Like the apparit 3.5 / 5.0 I acknowledge that in the modern world, the tales of valour and woe must needs be filled with passing wondrous tales and finely-devised quests to set the bedside traveller a-galloping into the vast forests of his fancy. The coursers rush on with might and main and fall dead under the rider yet the spirit of the quest keeps the bookish knight athirst for more. But woe betide the Man who expecteth mountains of gold to maintain their goodly promises of fortune forevermore. Like the apparitions of one's own design, even the handiwork of a master craftsman is transfigured sore dull in the absence of vigour and fascination. Never hitherto have I beholden knights of such insuperable courage and nobility. Never hath the orb espied damsels of such peerless beauty and purposeful expedition. In no-wise hath my countenance shone its faint light on such treachery, treason, and villainy as was shown by Morgan la Fey, her minions and divers felons withal. Thereat the mind marvels; 'tis transcended by the purity of it all, 'tis given good cheer by the simplicity of it all, 'tis tickled by the boasting and hyperbole professed, 'tis fagged by the neverending likenesses of the chronicles, yet, grammercy, ne'er doth the mind turn its back at the doughty, Arthurian fellows. Nay, peradventure the mind is not the aforementioned agent, but the spirit. For the former waxeth wroth at the lack of excitement; it waneth in interest when pageants of homochromatic hue march past world without end; it erreth in judgment when emotions rage sublime and the toll of sorrow burdeneth the travel-weary frame. Ho! 'tis the spirit that spies the worth, the beauty amidst pleasantries. Hearken to this state of affairs: every passer-by in the chronicles hath a life of their own, which we could detect but for the grandness and selfsame purpose of the knighted. Every character needs must have their differentiae, but, alas, they're drowned in the foamy, feverish rush of the mighty. The skillful observer can single out glitters of varied appearance, yet I am not thereamong. For myself, 'tis but one long procession which groweth dull, yea, but never perisheth in obscurity – nay, who would presume to smother the flame of legends?

  6. 5 out of 5

    Dejanira Dawn

    I'm going to go back through this and find all the parts where the women were killed because men love their pride. Other than that it was a great read/listen!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Brett Hall

    Everyone in the book is such a dummy

  8. 4 out of 5

    Althea Ann

    Highly recommended for fans of Arthurian lore. Inspired by the 19th century popularity of Tennyson’s Idylls of the King (the introduction makes much of the author’s friendship with Tennyson), this retelling is based on Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur. I grew up on the Malory edition edited by Pollard (with Arthur Rackham’s wonderful illustrations), so these two books ought to be quite similar. Are they? Hmm. I haven’t read my old book in a while – though it’s now available free from archive.org: http Highly recommended for fans of Arthurian lore. Inspired by the 19th century popularity of Tennyson’s Idylls of the King (the introduction makes much of the author’s friendship with Tennyson), this retelling is based on Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur. I grew up on the Malory edition edited by Pollard (with Arthur Rackham’s wonderful illustrations), so these two books ought to be quite similar. Are they? Hmm. I haven’t read my old book in a while – though it’s now available free from archive.org: https://archive.org/details/ofkingart... From a quick perusal – yes, there’s a similarity, but not so much that it’s not worthwhile to read both books. Both update and abridge the text, making it bit easier for a modern audience to read, while maintaining the medieval flavor of the language. Even if the text were identical, this edition would be worthwhile just for the illustrations. Louis Rhead was an extremely popular illustrator, up until the 1920s, and the images here show why. He does a great job of meshing the romantic style of the day with historical detail and Celtic design elements. Absolutely gorgeous. Revisiting the content for the first time in many years reminds one how many layers have been laid over the original legends. While the illustrations reflect the romance and chivalry that we expect from these stories, the stories themselves are another thing. These are not stories that reflect the romantic ideals of the 19th century, and certainly not the attitudes of the 21st. The attitudes displayed here are literally right out of the middle ages. His knights pay lip service to honor and courtesy, and not much more. These are petty, jealous, violent men. They quarrel constantly and for no reason. It’s dishonorable to kill your own brother, but pretty much anyone else is fair game. Women are frequently treated as property. Combat is the expected way to resolve any dispute, and a way to prove one’s worth. (Although noble blood is also expected to ‘tell’ – a low-born boy who shows talent at knightly pursuit must, of course, actually be a knight’s bastard.) These attitudes are woven in with a mystical/magical view of Christianity which is also very alien to a modern conception of the religion. It’s fascinating! Aside from giving an accurate glimpse into the culture and issues of another time, this book would also lend itself quite well to a drinking game. A shot every time someone’s head is either ‘smote’ directly off or cleaved in two, would get you wasted pretty quickly! ;-) A copy of this Dover e-book edition was provided by NetGalley - which affects my opinion not at all. THANKS!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Aly

    3.5 stars. Taking into account that this was written a long time ago, this was a pretty good book. I will say it was a lot of telling instead of showing. Arthur and Merlin were a tad disappointing to me as well as a lot of the other knights. I wish I would of seen more depth into Arthur's court and such. The second half of the book was really good and I found myself really eager to read it.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Duncan

    The story itself is pretty dull: fight a battle, do great deeds, slay the enemy, rescue a damsel or escape from an evil sorceress, fight another battle, do great deeds, slay the enemy, go hunting or jousting, fight another battle... There's little character development. The men are pretty much all brave and heroic and little more, and the women are virtually all either fair maidens in need of rescue or enchantresses trying to do something awful. The story doesn't really develop either. Arthur bec The story itself is pretty dull: fight a battle, do great deeds, slay the enemy, rescue a damsel or escape from an evil sorceress, fight another battle, do great deeds, slay the enemy, go hunting or jousting, fight another battle... There's little character development. The men are pretty much all brave and heroic and little more, and the women are virtually all either fair maidens in need of rescue or enchantresses trying to do something awful. The story doesn't really develop either. Arthur becomes king, he and his knights build a great empire by fighting endless battles for 80 or 90% of the book, then it all falls apart very quickly at the end from out of nowhere. I found the archaic language in this book delightful and frequently found myself quoting passages to friends who'd appreciate this form of English which has now passed out of usage but is still easy enough to understand without much need for a dictionary. IMO, that's the reason to read this book and the reason why I'd guardedly recommend it to others.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Ben Hilburn

    I've always wanted to read the King Arthur tales, and this appeared to be the "real original" set of stories, passed down hundreds of years ago and finally recorded for posterity. Unfortunately, I have this problem where once I start a book I feel like I have to finish it, even if it's killing me. These stories are atrocious. The one lesson from this book is that if anyone ever complains that "chivalry is dead" or wishes for the return of "chivalry", they have clearly never read this book. Apparen I've always wanted to read the King Arthur tales, and this appeared to be the "real original" set of stories, passed down hundreds of years ago and finally recorded for posterity. Unfortunately, I have this problem where once I start a book I feel like I have to finish it, even if it's killing me. These stories are atrocious. The one lesson from this book is that if anyone ever complains that "chivalry is dead" or wishes for the return of "chivalry", they have clearly never read this book. Apparently, chivalry is trying to kill anyone you happen across to prove yourself, treating women as either damsels to save or witches to burn, and generally just calling each other "worshipful" instead of arrogant and barbaric. Also, the stories are horrible. Just, save yourself the trouble. Go watch "First Knight" with Sean Connery. It might not be the "original" stories, but I promise it's better.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Ellen Trautner

    This took me awhile to read because it was my bedtime reading book, and it kept putting me to sleep! More than normal reading does, that is. The whole first half of the book was boringly repetitive, if it was just that, it would have only earned 2 stars from me. The second half picked up, thankfully, and was a much quicker read. It was more what I expected. I chose to read this because I am very unfamiliar with the Camelot story. I've seen Monty Python... and that's about it. Never read any more This took me awhile to read because it was my bedtime reading book, and it kept putting me to sleep! More than normal reading does, that is. The whole first half of the book was boringly repetitive, if it was just that, it would have only earned 2 stars from me. The second half picked up, thankfully, and was a much quicker read. It was more what I expected. I chose to read this because I am very unfamiliar with the Camelot story. I've seen Monty Python... and that's about it. Never read any more recent books (meaning from later than the 11th century), never seen the musical, never even seen the Disney movie. I get confused about which knight did what, what's the difference between Excalibur and the Sword in the Stone, the Lady of the Lake, Queen Morgan, Merlin... who does what exactly? After reading this, I can now say: I'm not sure?

  13. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    I think this material is much better handled by filmmakers and TV producers than lowly readers like myself. I had trouble with the language, and it was not helped by the fact that this kindle edition was sloppy, with many repeats and restarts. I like the underlying adventure, but the writing was far too ornate for my taste.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Paul Lovell

    What a disappointing read. Basically what was said in chapter one was rehashed and regurgitated over and over again throughout the book. Read like a list, he said she said. I only finished it because I wanted to see if ANYTHING other than Good Cheer and Smiting went on... It didn't.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Gaile

    If you haven't read this, you're a loser, You won't understand our culture, the underlying myths and legends in Literature. You may as well be an outcast!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Julia

    Honestly, these knights bring dishonour upon themselves. Wherever they go they fight first, and ask questions later...most of this book a knight comes upon another knight and they do battle. And then they realize they know eachtother...and then they show their respect for each other and stop battling. I mean come on. Most of the battles ended this way, it's so stupid. Knights! Am I right? There was this one part where two Knights were fighting in favour of a lady (of course one of them was stupi Honestly, these knights bring dishonour upon themselves. Wherever they go they fight first, and ask questions later...most of this book a knight comes upon another knight and they do battle. And then they realize they know eachtother...and then they show their respect for each other and stop battling. I mean come on. Most of the battles ended this way, it's so stupid. Knights! Am I right? There was this one part where two Knights were fighting in favour of a lady (of course one of them was stupid Knight Tristram), then they realized they knew each other, and stepped away from battle (in respect of course of each other *eyes rolling*) and then proceeded to allow the lady to chose which Knight to run to -- like a dog (of course she did not choose Tristtram because he sucks**). Honestly, this books portrayal of women was disappointing and very insulting. For example, Lady Guinevere is supposed to be King Arthur's Queen, equal in position and respect. However, overall I found her to be very dramatic for no reason (to be fair everyone was overly dramatic-- lots of swooning Knights in this book lol). Also, I didn't understand how every time she did something/ or was suspected of doing something they led her to be burnt at the stake (~3 occurrences). That seems to be a little extreme. One final note: The word 'Anon' took up approximately 90% of all the words in the novel. While that figure is not based on facts, that is what it felt like. How hard would it have been to pick up a thesaurus and use it? Impossible it seems. Unimaginable it seems. **Don't get me started on Knight Tristram...he was the worst. First of all, when he is "in disguise" in front of some Kings' family (he killed the King), he calls himself 'Tramtrist' -- wow, you totally fooled us all.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Barb Middleton

    Harumph. I didn't expect that. I've read so many books based on the Arthurian legend that I thought it would be a sword and sorcery fantasy plot with the character development of King Arthur. Scrap that thought. Character development takes a back seat to a series of chain-linked mini adventures connected to the knights of the Round Table fighting battles or single combats. King Arthur is hardly even in it. Or Merlin for that matter. The sword and the stone, the quest for the Holy Grail, and the Harumph. I didn't expect that. I've read so many books based on the Arthurian legend that I thought it would be a sword and sorcery fantasy plot with the character development of King Arthur. Scrap that thought. Character development takes a back seat to a series of chain-linked mini adventures connected to the knights of the Round Table fighting battles or single combats. King Arthur is hardly even in it. Or Merlin for that matter. The sword and the stone, the quest for the Holy Grail, and the Guinevere and Lancelot tragedy are just small pieces of one gigantic story on fighting. I was mixing my fantasy tropes with legends and the two operate differently. While this legend has magic, the focus is on being a chivalrous knight at all costs. In King Arthur's world, a knight is a disciplined soldier who follows certain military strategies and functions as part of a national army, or in this case, King Arthur's army. From what others say James Knowles retelling is close to Sir Thomas Malory's, Le Morte d'Arthur, except it sounds like Malory used even more battle descriptions. There are so many variations on the tale that I did not realize it is a legend that has influenced fantasy versus the other way around. Historically, there is no denying the importance of this work in literature, but this retelling is not going to appeal to most modern readers. The antiquated language and battles or single combat scenes get monotonous after awhile. The knights prove their valor, courage, and chivalry over and over again. I found it engaging, funny, irritating, fascinating, and tedious. The women are one-dimensional nincompoops. I guarantee you will be offended. They get their heads chopped off either for love or because the rules of the game (whether evil or not) require it. This is one of the major characteristics that defines a chivalrous knight. The rules are more important than death even if they are evil. In one adventure, a good knight, accompanied by a woman, comes to a castle where dwells an evil knight and a lady. The evil knight insists that the beauty of the two be compared and the uglier one have her head chopped off by the winner. The good knight vehemently disagrees with the terms of this because it is an evil custom. He is the good and chivalrous knight, while the other is dishonorable. The two women's looks are compared and the good knight chops off her head because she did not speak against the evil knight's rules. Another adventure involves a knight who accidentally chops off a woman's head that was trying to protect her knight who had cried for mercy after losing a combat. The knight was dishonorable because he lost his head and was unable to stop. Honorable knights don't kill defeated knights asking for mercy. The errant knight is repentant afterwards and carries the woman's head on a rope around his neck to tell King Arthur of his foul deed. The women of King Arthur's court judge his actions and sentence him to protect them whenever they call upon him. He is their knight forevermore. Ugh. Welcome to the bloody Middle Ages folks, when this tale that was first put to paper. Not that the feminine portrayals are surprising. Male heroes dominated the legend genre in literature during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. According to Norton's Anthology of Children's Literature, legends represent historical times and have an oral tradition. Legends were a way of people understanding the unexplained and history of their country. To understand the variations, readers need to understand the sociohistorical context of the times. I won't get into all of that, but it helps knowing it because King Arthur wants to take over lands from the Romans and Saxons. The superiority and snobbery shows how he represents the feudal lord, with the knights as his vassals. No one knows if King Arthur ever existed. He might represent a warrior that fought against the Saxons in 600 C.E. The King Arthur of this legend doesn't make an appearance on paper until ca. 1135 when Geoffrey of Monmouth wrote Historia regum Britanniae (History of the Kings of England). According to this tale Arthur killed hundreds of Saxons, married Guinevere, and held court at Caerleon. His nephew, Mordred, rose up against him and although Arthur defeated him, he was mortally wounded and carried to the island of Avalon. Successive writings added Merlin and the magical sword, Excalibar. Sir Thomas Malory's retelling during the Middle Ages is reminiscent of some heroes found in the Knights-Templar and British history. His books were transformed into short narratives called chapbooks for children in the 1800s. Later James Knowles wrote this particular version for children. Some knights carry white shields or mantles with red crosses, the same clothing of the Knights-Templar, a group of elite knights considered the best fighters during the Crusades. The Templars protected Christians on pilgrimage to Jerusalem from marauders. The knights of the Round Table seem to be a bit like them having religious ascetic ideals mixed with a military role. The knights' actions are always measured against a code of honor. They are flawed and courageous to the point of stupidity. King Arthur is warned to wait for Lancelot and not fight Mordred in battle because he would die. Arthur tries to wait for Lancelot, but a series of events put him in battle against Mordred's army. Even when Arthur's knight tells him to not fight Mordred single-handedly, Arthur does because it is the noble thing to do. He foolishly insists on killing Mordred with his own hands and dies as a result. While these are flawed heroes that make mistakes over and over again, their courage is commendable. This legend is one to be studied in a historical context. It is not your typical read and requires some research. It helped me better understand the legend and what other children's authors were doing in modern versions. I want to reread Gerald Morris' satirical Knights' Tales series again. They are hysterical and would be even funnier now that I've read this retelling. The first book is The Adventures of Sir Lancelot the Great. A new book that has more of the fantasy element of King Arthur is The Eighth Day, by Dianne K. Salerni. The Seeing Stone by Kevin Crossley-Holland has King Arthur as a young boy struggling to find his path during the Middle Ages. He is the second son of a landowner and cannot inherit the land. He decides to become a squire and then a knight so he can own his own manor at some point. Next I want to read Mark Twain's version and T.H. White's, Sword in the Stone.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Charly Troff (ReaderTurnedWriter)

    Having watched Merlin, reading the originals was something I was really interested in. Overall, it was a little interesting, though mostly disappointing. I found the writing itself to be easy to understand and read. The stories were a mixed bag, some were fairly interesting and others were very boring to me (knights killing other knights for no good reason, etc). The end was depressing but not surprising (it's pretty famous and I knew what to expect). The main problem I had with the book was tha Having watched Merlin, reading the originals was something I was really interested in. Overall, it was a little interesting, though mostly disappointing. I found the writing itself to be easy to understand and read. The stories were a mixed bag, some were fairly interesting and others were very boring to me (knights killing other knights for no good reason, etc). The end was depressing but not surprising (it's pretty famous and I knew what to expect). The main problem I had with the book was that it was very obviously written in a different time and culture. Looking at it from our modern time, the motivations fall short, the way women and relationships are portrayed are inappropriate, and the medieval take on Christianity can be hard to read. The other main problem is that the book focused on things I didn't care about (like the actual fights between knights) but the parts I would have found interesting (like a long lost son being reunited with a father) were given one to two lines and the nuances of the situations downplayed. We rarely got to know characters past their actions and a vague, unbelievable motivation. This caused me to read more for discovering the plot rather than being immersed in the world and getting to know the characters. I am glad to have read the originals and I look forward to reading adaptations in the future.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Fr. Daniel Carr

    I was unfortunately disappointed with this collection of stories. I can appreciate the attempt to render a tale of these classic figures with accuracy, but the genre and style seemed so rambling and dry that it ruined much of the magic. It seemed fixated on telling assorted tales one after another without much character or plot development. Also, we see a clearly simple anthropology - man and woman are stereotypes and good and evil look a certain way. One thing I did appreciate was the clear conn I was unfortunately disappointed with this collection of stories. I can appreciate the attempt to render a tale of these classic figures with accuracy, but the genre and style seemed so rambling and dry that it ruined much of the magic. It seemed fixated on telling assorted tales one after another without much character or plot development. Also, we see a clearly simple anthropology - man and woman are stereotypes and good and evil look a certain way. One thing I did appreciate was the clear connection between these stories and their Christian background. It would be impossible to accurately describe these accounts without their roots in Christian liturgy, feasts, and moral perspective, despite most of our modern renditions omitting this connection. I wish I could say that I enjoyed these stories - generally I liked the beginning and the end, but the tales of individual knights seemed to drag on throughout the middle portion and it became an exercise of simply finishing for completion's sake.

  20. 4 out of 5

    David

    James Knowle's retelling of the classic stories of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round table, taking in Arthur's birth and upbringing, the Sword in the Stone, Merlin, Excalibur, the Green Knight, the Knights of the Round Table, Lancelot and Guineveire, the Quest for the Holy Grail and even Arthur's final battle and (supposed) death. As such, it covers pretty much all the bases - it's just a pity that the prose itself isn't really all that engaging. For a better take on the same subject matte James Knowle's retelling of the classic stories of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round table, taking in Arthur's birth and upbringing, the Sword in the Stone, Merlin, Excalibur, the Green Knight, the Knights of the Round Table, Lancelot and Guineveire, the Quest for the Holy Grail and even Arthur's final battle and (supposed) death. As such, it covers pretty much all the bases - it's just a pity that the prose itself isn't really all that engaging. For a better take on the same subject matter, read The Once and Future King by TH White (or, if you prefer silliness, watch Monty Python and The Quest for the Holy Grail).

  21. 5 out of 5

    Brittani Ivan

    The lengths to which this would go to avoid the more unsavoury bits of Arthurian Literature were hilarious. This is definitely an abridgment meant for children, but it retains much of the spirit of the original tales it compresses (although, as one commenter noted, his abridgment has lost some of the thematic depth that prevents the knights from always coming across as murderous psychopaths). I would recommend it to other readers of Arturian literature and to scholars of the Victorian age, as it The lengths to which this would go to avoid the more unsavoury bits of Arthurian Literature were hilarious. This is definitely an abridgment meant for children, but it retains much of the spirit of the original tales it compresses (although, as one commenter noted, his abridgment has lost some of the thematic depth that prevents the knights from always coming across as murderous psychopaths). I would recommend it to other readers of Arturian literature and to scholars of the Victorian age, as it has much to offer as a text for study of the evolution of those tales and the period it came from, and to children as a way to get them used to the sort of language emlpoyed by Malory and most translators of de Troyes and the lays.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Glenn

    Yes, it is somewhat monotonous, and yes the characters are very simple, however this is literature that is six hundred years old based on legends nine hundred years older than that. You have to take it for what it is. If you are at all interested in Arthurian legends and modern interpretations, you should read this, or at least the beginning and end of it.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Rina

    This was an awesome series! I just loved it. There are many things about elves, faeries, enchanted creatures, and even romance. This was totally the kind of book that I like, as I love things about the medieval times.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Morgan Frey

    Can anyone recommend to me an un-Christianised version of King Arthur? If he was real, he's dated just before the arrival of Christianity and in any case, I highly doubt he conquered Rome *eye roll*

  25. 5 out of 5

    Shaun Dyer

    The Legends of King Arthur and His Knights, is a collection of folk tales about the exploits of the eponymous King and his knights; mostly his knights. All the hits are here including the lady in the lake, the sword in the stone and the hunt for the holy grail. Unfortunately, like a Aqua greatest hits album, the hits soon give way to a bunch of tepid, repetitive filler. The writing style is archaic which makes it a difficult read in parts, but what really hampers the book is not the fact that it The Legends of King Arthur and His Knights, is a collection of folk tales about the exploits of the eponymous King and his knights; mostly his knights. All the hits are here including the lady in the lake, the sword in the stone and the hunt for the holy grail. Unfortunately, like a Aqua greatest hits album, the hits soon give way to a bunch of tepid, repetitive filler. The writing style is archaic which makes it a difficult read in parts, but what really hampers the book is not the fact that it is old it's the fact that it is boring. Two-thirds of the book is just Knight X went here, he saw a castle, out of the castle came another knight, they battled fiercely for several hours until Knight X took off his head... I don't mean it's repetitive, although it is, I mean its written literally like that, like how I wrote as a five year old; he went there and then did that and then this happened. Honestly it's painful. The characters are one dimensional, the stories loosely linked at best and the character development nonexistent. The authors who made good stories out of this source material have gone way up in my estimation. If you're a fan of the stories of King Arthur, this is one to avoid. If you're not a fan of the stories of King Arthur, this is one to avoid. In fact unless you're a bit of a literary masochist you should probably just skip this one.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Rocky Sunico

    I read this book because of our on-going Pendragon campaign and admittedly I was a little surprised. Sure, this is a highly Christian-slanted spin to the legends but on the whole our "modern" understanding of Arthurian mythology based on popular media is rather far from how some of these stories have been told over the years. A key difference lies in defining what exactly was the relationship between Guinevere and Lancelot as more recent movies have glamorized this to the point of heightening the I read this book because of our on-going Pendragon campaign and admittedly I was a little surprised. Sure, this is a highly Christian-slanted spin to the legends but on the whole our "modern" understanding of Arthurian mythology based on popular media is rather far from how some of these stories have been told over the years. A key difference lies in defining what exactly was the relationship between Guinevere and Lancelot as more recent movies have glamorized this to the point of heightening the scandal when in this version it was more a confusion as part of a larger plot to put Mordred in power. Fascinating stuff. All that aside, too many of the individuay stories follow the set pattern of a knight hiding his identity, then jousting anyone in his path and later the big reveal is one that as defined many of the stories. That makese sense of course as I'm sure this involved the merging of stories from diferent areas that followed a similar structure. It's not an easy book to read and it's too easy to get confused with the characters as you'll encounter names that pop up in the background in many stories without getting a true spotlight moment. But as a royalty-free read, it's a fair enough experience.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Roberta

    So I had to stop reading this book because it was driving me crazy! I rarely give up on a book. At one point, Arthur slew a giant (um, like David and Goliath...?) At another point, Arthur and his knights traveled to Rome where he was crowned Emperor and all of Rome--citizens, legions, Senators, and the current Emperor were all thrilled to acknowledge him as their supreme leader (must have missed that in the history books). And then there were the descriptions of the knights -- who struck their op So I had to stop reading this book because it was driving me crazy! I rarely give up on a book. At one point, Arthur slew a giant (um, like David and Goliath...?) At another point, Arthur and his knights traveled to Rome where he was crowned Emperor and all of Rome--citizens, legions, Senators, and the current Emperor were all thrilled to acknowledge him as their supreme leader (must have missed that in the history books). And then there were the descriptions of the knights -- who struck their opponents so hard that both they and their horse tumbled to the ground (over and over and over). I read approximately 60% of the book, but just couldn't go any further! Maybe you have to be in the right frame of mind to take this one on? Sigh!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kathy

    I don't think this added anything to the original tales of Arthur (Sir Thomas Malory). The intention seems to have been to organize the tales into a more fluid assembly. That may be, but the Kindle edition was not near as much fun as a kid's book of Arthur that I have. Illustrations were lacking, so the whole thing, although easy to read, became a tedious list of which knight killed which other. A whole lot of jousting and shattering of spears, followed by a whole lot of sword play where many we I don't think this added anything to the original tales of Arthur (Sir Thomas Malory). The intention seems to have been to organize the tales into a more fluid assembly. That may be, but the Kindle edition was not near as much fun as a kid's book of Arthur that I have. Illustrations were lacking, so the whole thing, although easy to read, became a tedious list of which knight killed which other. A whole lot of jousting and shattering of spears, followed by a whole lot of sword play where many were cleaved and hewn through their helms into their brain pans... etc. If you want a good crafting of the tale of Arthur, read Jack Whyte's comprehensive and much more interesting set of historical novels The Dream of Eagles.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Lankester

    Being a fan of Arthurian Legend I thought I would read this book to give me more of an insight into the actual stories, rather than limiting my view to just that of the media! However I really had to force myself to read it as it was particularly dull and difficult to follow, no doubt due to the understandably incredibly old writing style. I enjoyed some aspects that I was previously more familiar with, such as the sword in the stone, the round table, Guinevere and Lancelot, Merlin and the Lady Being a fan of Arthurian Legend I thought I would read this book to give me more of an insight into the actual stories, rather than limiting my view to just that of the media! However I really had to force myself to read it as it was particularly dull and difficult to follow, no doubt due to the understandably incredibly old writing style. I enjoyed some aspects that I was previously more familiar with, such as the sword in the stone, the round table, Guinevere and Lancelot, Merlin and the Lady of the Lake etc, but found it hard to really get into the stories and felt I was ultimately forcing myself to read it for the sake of it.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Piers

    I was curious about the Arthurian legends, and I wasn't sure I wanted to take on Thomas Malory's 'Le Mort d'Arthur' on the back of quite a few heavy books recently. So instead I tried Knowles' victorian abridged version, only to have to wade through a child's stream-of-consciousness while having a chivalry based magical fever dream. It sort of satisfied my interest in the broad strokes, but it's really poor as something for an adult to read. At some point I might give Malory a go. But not for a w I was curious about the Arthurian legends, and I wasn't sure I wanted to take on Thomas Malory's 'Le Mort d'Arthur' on the back of quite a few heavy books recently. So instead I tried Knowles' victorian abridged version, only to have to wade through a child's stream-of-consciousness while having a chivalry based magical fever dream. It sort of satisfied my interest in the broad strokes, but it's really poor as something for an adult to read. At some point I might give Malory a go. But not for a while.

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