Sunday, October 17, 2010


About a month ago NPR had an article by author and critic Lev Grossman
about T.H. White's great Arthurian novel, The Once and Future King.
It caused me to list my top five favorite Arthurian novels. I have to admit
I cheated a bit as I counted Mary Stewart's Merlin Trilogy as a single

So here are my picks:

The Merlin Trilogy by Mary Stewart
Sword at Sunset by Rosemary Sutcliff
Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley
The Once and Future King by T.H. White
Hawk of May by Gillian Bradshaw

I recall once reading something somewhere that there have been more
novels written about Arthur and the Matter of Britain than any other
subject. I'm not sure how accurate that is but I do know that I've read
every one that I've seen since I was a kid. Stewart's books are still my
favorites to this day with Sutcliff's a close second.  MZB thought it was
the best Arthurian novel she'd ever read. Mists of Avalon is Bradley's
masterwork and White's book is simply magical. Hawk of May by
Bradshaw is a fresh look at some of the Welsh elements of the legend
especially the story of Gawaine(Gwalchmai) and Morgaine Le Fay.
What all of these books have in common besides the subject is great
characterization and writing.

Bradshaw's book is probably the least known of all of these. Luckily,
it's once more available in a large paperback edition, so you can buy a
copy and see for yourself how it stacks up against your favorite Arthurian

By the way, what are your favorites?



  1. I was playing around with some royal lineages on line and found that I was descended (if you can believe those things) from Belli Mawr (or King Pellinore in White's books). This was very interesting to me since I love Arthurian legend. However, all those characters are semi-mythical, so how how can it be true? Why does European royalty believe in these things? Especially the lineage that descend from Norse Gods via the Sagas. It must be nice to be a king and be able to claim things like that!

  2. I have not yet read the books you list, but I have read Malory's Le Mort D'Arthur, and enjoyed it thoroughly. I had a very good edition. I've read some books that related to or were based on the Arthurian legends. It is a rich field for writers.

  3. I like the name of your blog -- very poetic and intriguing! Thanks for following. No robot here! ;-)