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Once Upon A Bookshelf

Where Fiction and Reality Meet

Listed: Arthurian Legend in Fiction

A few weeks ago, I did a feature on Greek Mythology in Fiction. This week, I wanted to continue on that strain with Arthurian Legend, which I have been quite geeky about (more in the past than currently, but I still do love it quite a bit!). I find it so alluring and romantic – knights going on quests! Mythical lands! Fighting dragons! So much scope for the imagination!

So here are some awesome books that revolve around Arthurian Legend.

  1. Le Morte d’Arthur by Thomas Mallory. Originally Published 1485. One of the best-known tales of Arthurian legend, and something that a lot of modern-day Arthurian stories draw upon for inspiration. I still haven’t read this whole book. I read about half of it a few years ago, but put it aside and never finished it. Now, every once in a while, I pull it out and read one of the chapters in it. That’s what I really like about this book – you don’t have to read it from the beginning to end, can pick different bits to read instead, and aren’t too lost as far as what is going on.
  2. The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley. Originally Published 1982. The was the first book written in MZB’s Avalon Series, but is the last in order of what happens in the series universe. This particular book focuses on Morgaine (Morgan le Fay) from childhood until old age. What I really love about this one is that Morgaine isn’t the evil sorceress that she is portrayed as in other Arthurian books.
  3. That Hideous Strength by C.S. Lewis. Originally Published 1945. Yeah, this is totally my favourite in Lewis’ Space Trilogy just because of the fact that Merlin is in it. Merlin is awoken after centuries of sleep in the 1940’s by an evil corporation who want his help.
  4. Kingdom of the Grail by Judith Tarr. Originally Published 2000. One of Merlin’s descendants goes on a quest for the Holy Grail.
  5. Merlin Dreams by Peter Dickinson. Originally Published 1992. This is a positively gorgeous book, about Merlin’s memories (or dreams) as he’s trapped under the rock where Nenyve imprisoned him.
  6. The Dark is Rising Sequence by Susan Cooper. First book (Over Sea, Under Stone) published 1965. This series is based on the Arthurian legends, though centers around a group of children and the battle between good and bad.
  7. Enchanted, Inc. by Shanna Swendson. Originally Published 2005. Yeah, okay, I’m taking a few liberties when adding this to the list. The CEO of the company that the main character works for is Merlin. Yes, that Merlin.
  8. Sir Gawain and the Loathly Lady by Selina Hastings. Originally Published 1985. This is a positively gorgeous picture book that was one of my favourites as a kid. It’s a retelling of the poem, The Wedding of Sir Gawain and Dame Ragnelle. It tells the story of how Sir Gawain must marry a princess who has been enchanted to look like a really hideous old lady.
  9. Avalon High by Meg Cabot. Originally Published 2005. The main people from Arthurian legend have all been reincarnated and go to high school, where Will (Arthur) must battle his step-brother (Mordred) to try to end things differently than they have every other time they’ve had the battle between good and bad.
  10. The Lady of Shalott by Tennyson. Originally Published 1833. I will admit that I am not normally a poetry fan, but when Anne quotes it in the Anne of Green Gables movies, well, that’s a different story. Plus, how Loreena McKennitt put it to music was absolutely beautiful. I love how sad and tragic this story is, and it completely breaks my heart that she would fall in love with such a ninny, and then that it would cause her death.

Which adaptations of Arthurian legends are your favourites?

Posted by Courtney Wilson @ 7:25 am September 21, 2009.
Category: Listed

  • Anastasia

    My absolute favorite is for sure The Dark is Rising sequence, but I also love TH White’s Once and Future King series (although I’ve, er, only read the first book) and The Lost Years of Merlin series by TA Barron ain’t too bad, either (haven’t read them in a while, however…). :D Great post!

  • Bella

    I have to check these out since I love Arthurian tales. I read I am Morgan le Fay recently, which I loved.

  • Court

    Anastasia – I tried TH White’s Once and Future King, but sadly could not really get into it. It was added to my Did Not Finish pile. :( I’ve only heard good things about it though. Never read The Lost Years of Merlin, but I’ll have to look into it!

    Bella – I haven’t read that one, I’ll check it out! Thanks!

  • Lana

    I really liked “I Am Mordred” and “I Am Morgan Le Fay” by Nancy Springer.
    Plus, I enjoyed the Lost Years of Merlin series (T.A. Barron)

  • Kailana

    Oh, a few books that I haven’t read! I will have to see if the library has them. :)

  • Charlotte

    My favorite Arthur books are Mary Stewart’s, a series that begins with The Crystal Cave. I love them!