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Historical Fiction

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Jan 29, 2011, 7:44pm Top

Hey folks.

New here, and wanted to mention a favorite series as well as wanting recommendations.

I've recently finished The Pendragon's Banner series by Helen Hollick. If you like non magic dark age Arthurian, you might like these books. They are very well researched and totally ring true for the time. They are full of action and quite romantic and yet exactly the way I'd expect Arthur to act - similar in idea to Bernard Cornwell, but written so differently I can't compare them.

I also want to know what books you guys like that are Arthurian. I've read of course Cornwell and Rosemary Sutcliffe, TH White and John Steinbeck, Guy Gavriel Kay and several others. I like modern day and historical stuff. What do you recommend?

Thanks so much!


Jan 30, 2011, 10:31am Top

The original version of Sword in the Stone before White revised it for The Once and Future King

John M. Ford's poem Winter Solstice: Camelot Station published in Invitation to Camelot

Roger Lancelyn Green's King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight in Tolkien's modern rendition.

Harold Foster's Prince Valiant in the Days of King Arthur

Jan 30, 2011, 8:19pm Top

My favorite Arthurian books (aside from T.H. White) are Mary Stewart's Merlin books, which start with The Crystal Cave. It's the Arthurian legend from Merlin's point of view, with good historical context. Really fun series!

Jan 30, 2011, 9:20pm Top

I've never heard of the Pendragon's Banner series but I'll take a look at it. I enjoyed The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart, though I haven't read any of the other books in the series yet.

Why on Earth are the touchstones not working??

Feb 1, 2011, 11:34am Top

I read the Mary Stewart books way back when and have vague memories of really enjoying them. A different take on the Arthur legend from the female perspective is Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley. She wrote a whole series including a prequel , but this is the best of the lot.

Feb 1, 2011, 1:20pm Top

I enjoyed The Crystal Cave and The Hollow Hills enormously, back in the day, and The Last Enchantment slightly less so. I remember The Wicked Day (Mordred's story and thus less an extension of the trilogy than an adjunct to it) as being a complete dud.

I haven't seen my favorite Arthurian book mentioned yet, though: Parke Godwin's Firelord, which is about as good a Dark-Ages-Arthur story as I've ever read. I picked it up in a bookstore out of curiosity, read the first two pages, and I was hooked.

Feb 1, 2011, 6:44pm Top

Another one I enjoyed is Stephen Lawhead's Pendragon cycle starting with Taliesin which is about Merlin's parents and includes the demise of Atlantis the second book is about Merlin and then there are three about Arthur

Feb 2, 2011, 12:24am Top

I think Gillian Bradshaw has written a trilogy, but I'm afraid I don't remember the titles. Bradshaw's a terrific writer; I just don't care for Arthurian fiction in general.

Feb 2, 2011, 7:42am Top

Bradshaw's series is here

Edited: Feb 13, 2011, 11:31am Top

Thanks for all the info! And I LOVE Firelord; I read that about a year ago. Apparently there's a sequel of sorts? Told from Guinevere's pov.

Definitely check out The Pendragon's Banner series. They are wonderful.

And I've had Mists of Avalon for a million years but haven't read it *is shamed*. I will this year; I've got Mercedes Lackey's newest one up next.

Also forgot to mention I love Gillian Bradshaw's Island of Ghosts. I have her Arthurian stuff on my tbr list.

Feb 13, 2011, 1:10pm Top

Enjoy, Sasha!

Edited: Feb 17, 2011, 7:59pm Top

Gee anybody read Jack Whyte Camulod series? IMHO the best Arthurian stuff out there.

Feb 22, 2011, 2:19pm Top

Here Lies Arthur by Philip Reeve is YA but quite mature. It's told from the perspective of a young girl whose village is destroyed by a bandit gang headed up by a ruffian named "Arthur," and she's then taken under the protection of a wandering bard and slight-of-hand magician named "Myrddin ." I like those "how it really was" imaginings that subvert the original myth.

Mar 4, 2011, 7:00pm Top

I am currently reading the King Authur series by ((M K Hume)). What I am really liking about this series is the lack of fantasy and magic. The first title is (Dragon's Child), followed by (Warrior of the West) and finally (The Bloody Cup). Hume has also started a Merlin series this year. Book 1 is sitting on my shelf waiting for me.

Apr 18, 2011, 5:18pm Top

I absolutely adore the Arthurian legend! I have read a few books on this genre, but my favorite has always been "Le Morte D'Artur" by Sir Thomas Mallory. It's kind of a long read, but it is so incredibly thorough that it is, without a doubt, worth it. It covers every single character imaginable in a series of books and smaller chapters. I particularly enjoyed the books on Tristram and Isode.

Aug 23, 2011, 12:59pm Top

Hi Guys,

I'd recommend checking out Simon Lister's Arthurian Trilogy (www.SimonLister.co.uk). It is set in a future dark age (very similar to the post-Roman dark age), after a global apocalypse, when the world needs an Arthur to rise again.

An intriguing twist to the genre!


Aug 24, 2011, 11:29am Top

I also highly recommend The Crystal Cave trilogy by Mary Stewart! I enjoyed them as a 16 year old and as an adult.

Edited: Aug 24, 2011, 3:15pm Top

>12 MusketGeneral:
I read one book in that series, when I was home with a nasty cold over the winter. It was a more amusing than daytime TV, but I didn't think it was especially wonderful. (I thought about the same of the non-Arthurian Angels and Demons: worth taking with you to read on a long flight, but not anything to knock yourself out for.)

Edited: Sep 10, 2011, 8:46am Top

Jack Whyte has an amazing series based on the legend. It starts with The Skystone. The series has different names in the USA and Canada, but I do believe it's the Camuold Chronicles or A Dream of Eagles series. I would highly recommend these books. The Saxon Shore is the first book that begins to fully follow the Arthurian legend.

Nov 16, 2011, 8:29pm Top

Okay, I'm trying to figure this out, and obviously haven't so here goes: I'm looking at The Merlin Trilogy by (Mary Stewart). Do we read this before or after the Arthurian Series she wrote? I'm such a stickler for going in the correct order, but for some reason, I'm not making a connection with what goes first.

Nov 16, 2011, 9:15pm Top

20: The Arthurian series is the Merlin series with an extra book at the end.

Nov 16, 2011, 10:11pm Top

Thank you so much. The description made it sound like it was the 1st 3, but then some reviews said it was the author's "take" on the series. Again, thank you!

Nov 22, 2011, 6:24pm Top

I have just finished reading Prophecy: Clash of Kings by M. K. Hume. It is her first book in her Merlin series. It was a great take on his early life, from conception to about 16 years old. She also has an Arthur trilogy which I read earlier this year. I would think you could read either series first. However the rest of the Merlin series is not yet available.

Jul 30, 2013, 5:53pm Top

What is it about Arthur that keeps the legend going?

Jul 30, 2013, 8:14pm Top

Jack Whyte is definitely worth the effort. The first few books are outstanding. The end of the Roman era forward.

Jul 30, 2013, 9:17pm Top

I'm not big on books riffing on the Arthurian legends, but Susan Cooper's 5-part series, beginning with Over sea, under stone is very good. It's a children's/YA series, but can be read by adults without inviting brain rot.

Jul 31, 2013, 8:55pm Top

< 19 I second your choice of Jack Whyte and his The Skystone series of books. I am not sure that it would be historically accurate ( assuming the legend is real) but it makes a marvelous read of the formation of Camuold as a survivalist village started by a Roman General who refused to return to Rome after they were defeated in Britain. The development of Excalibur is very plausible and he so skillfully works in the various characters of the Arthurian legend.

Aug 2, 2013, 12:14am Top

Has anybody read Helen Hollick's Arthur books? I'd be interested to know what you think.

Aug 22, 2013, 3:55pm Top

I'm another "Firelord" Guy, especially Arthur's review of Cerdic's pre-battle speech to the troops prior to Badon. A sensitive treatment of Arthur.

Aug 22, 2013, 3:59pm Top

The Penguin Two Volume Edition edited by Janet Cowen? That's "The Beast With the Hair on" as far as I'm concerned, and I've loaned out and not gotten back, two sets of that book.

Aug 22, 2013, 4:04pm Top

Well I've always figured that it was the "Matter of Britain" because it speaks to the English soul. He's good, he tries hard, and he nearly gets it completely right. He doesn't even really fail, but circumstances and the characters of both his friends and enemies force him to go away for a while, but HE"LL BE BACK! People get distracted by the sub-plots and the terrible emphasis on Lancelot and Guinevere, but that's not the whole story by a long shot.

Jun 17, 2018, 2:31pm Top

Many mentioned above (Firelord and its two sequels, definitely Mary Stewart, Bernard Cornwell); also a single book (640 pages long) - Queen of Camelot by Nancy McKenzie.

Group: Historical Fiction

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