Book Discussion: Arthurian Themed Read *Spoiler Free*

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Book Discussion: Arthurian Themed Read *Spoiler Free*

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1clamairy
Feb 28, 2008, 7:58pm

I'm starting this now because I figure we'll be working on this thread for a long time... hopefully.

Note: Please try to mention which book you're reading in each post, just so we oldsters don't have to try to remember, or worse, have to keep scrolling back up to check. ;o)

Also, please DO NOT give away any plot twists or spoilers particular the book you are reading, so as not to ruin it for someone who is reading the same book but hasn't gotten as far as you have just yet.

2fyrefly98
Feb 28, 2008, 8:02pm

This message has been deleted by its author.

3fyrefly98
Edited: Feb 28, 2008, 8:49pm

My book includes a bit from Arthurian legend about how, when he finds out about the incest, he has all of the babies killed in the hopes of eliminating Mordred and protecting what he'd built at Camelot.

I'd never heard this story in any of the other Arthurian retellings I've read, although it certainly was reminiscent of King Herod/Jesus. I thought it was a) really dark, and b) not in keeping with Arthur's character. Is this something made up for this book, or does anyone else's book include this too?

ETA: to try to remove spoilers.

4clamairy
Feb 28, 2008, 8:09pm

Ouch. That's awful.

Hmm, that tidbit might be a bit spoiler-ish, fyrefly98.
Now I'm not sure how we're going to do this.

5maggie1944
Feb 28, 2008, 8:34pm

I am reading Black Horses for the King a YA book related to Arthur prior to being King Arthur. So far its quite entertaining and not "dumbed down" for kids, I don't think. We have been carried along as horses are transported to the british isles and its is building some interest in what will come of these fine horses.

6fyrefly98
Feb 28, 2008, 8:51pm

>4 clamairy: Yikes, sorry! It's not a HUGE plot point, but I guess it could be a spoiler. I've taken out the name of the book.

Or did you mean about Arthur? I thought we agreed that the Arthur story was considered as known and therefore not spoilable?

7MerryMary
Feb 28, 2008, 8:54pm

The killing of the children is found in many versions of the legend. And you're right - very Jesus/Herod-ish

8clamairy
Feb 28, 2008, 8:57pm

Oh, okay, I had never heard that before. I thought it was only that one version and thought it was a spoiler. So sorry. Put the name back in.

Seriously, maybe I'd just forgotten, but I took an Arthurian class in college and I have no memory of those killings.

9Jim53
Feb 28, 2008, 9:03pm

Arthur's murder of the children, in order to eliminate Modred and preserve his kingdom, is a well-known part of his story. Following his incest with Queen Morgawse, his aunt or sister (depending on the version), and Merlin's prophecy that he will be killed by his bastard son, the murder is the sin or flaw at the beginning of his reign that poisons everything after it. This is from the end of the first section of the Morte (Keith Baines's rendition into the modern idiom):

"On Merlin's advice, in order to destroy his bastard son Modred, Arthur commanded that, on pain of death, all babies of the nobility born on May Day were to be brought to the court. Arthur then set them adrift in an unmanned vessel, which eventually foundered. However, the plan failed, for the wreck was discovered by a yeoman who clambered aboard and found a lone survivor, whom he took into his care; and this was the baby Modred."

The work firefly98 mentioned uses this in a new way, I suppose; I'll wait to comment till we get the green light.

10clamairy
Feb 28, 2008, 9:07pm

Go ahead and comment.

This reminds me Pharoh's murder of the Hebrew slave infants and baby Moses being set adrift in the reed basket, too.

11maggie1944
Feb 28, 2008, 9:20pm

ah, the myths are rolling in. Setting the dead adrift is viking lore also yes? and I just read that Normandy is so named as the Norsemen were known to settle there. Hmmmm..... and then comes the Norman invasion, from the beaches of Normandy, which later we invaded. Time flies.

12Choreocrat
Feb 28, 2008, 9:26pm

I'm reading The Camulod Chronicles, and I'm still on The Skystone (this time through), so it'll be a couple of books before I get to anything properly Arthurian.

I like the chain of events that Jack Whyte uses to lead up to the Arthurian part of the story. It's mostly very believable, and he's done a lot of research on a number of areas. I mentioned in another thread that this is a very realist version. There is very little to none at all in the way of mysticism, and there's lots of gritty detail of battles, sexual adventure, intrigue and common people. Although I know a number of women who quite enjoy the series, it's always struck me as a very 'blokey' telling of Arthurian stories - a combination of Boy's Own Adventure, war novels, Western novels with a little dose of toned-down erotica. Whyte doesn't flinch from describing embarrassing sexual encounters and heavy fighting, but his almost medical descriptive style takes out any eroticism or violence from the scene.

Enough about that, when it comes to the Arthurian part of the series, although everything leads up to it, it almost seems an aside to the whole storyline, to me. It's like he's said "Yeah, Arthur was a great guy, but look at these people who came before him. This is all because of them - Arthur's just the result, not the input."

13Jim53
Feb 28, 2008, 9:27pm

Actually, it would be ungracious of me to jump in and start discussing that book, since fyrefly98 (spelled it right that time, sorry about before) is the one who just read it and brought it up. I'm a big fan of that author but I plan to re-read something else (The Crystal Cave) for this discussion, so I'll wait.

I agree that Malory was probably consciously imitating all the biblical references that have been mentioned. One of the things that always interested me about the Arthur story was the apparent contradictions between his portrayal as a great Christian king and many of the other aspects of the story: bed-hopping knights and the devil's son who serves as his tutor and principal advisor. I'll be interested to see whether the various books everyone chooses treat that contradiction.

14jillmwo
Edited: Feb 28, 2008, 9:30pm

I think I shall give John Steinbeck's version of the Arthurian stories a re-read. It's been a number of years and I might have a totally different reaction to it now.

The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights

By the way, I've never done a group read on LT; how do they work here? Reviews posted? or just chit chat commentary?

15Choreocrat
Feb 28, 2008, 9:33pm

I'll be interested to see whether the various books everyone chooses treat that contradiction.

The Camulod Chronicles has Arthur in a Christian setting (not a spoiler), but it's presented within a frame of heretical to-ing and fro-ing, and a number of moral questions, especially to do with the ethics of killing in warfare and the "Thou Shalt Not Kill" commandment. Merlin isn't presented as a Devil Spawn, but has a controversial place with regards to Church doctrine, putting him at odds with other characters.

16clamairy
Edited: Feb 28, 2008, 9:46pm

#14 - Just check out any of the links on this page for an idea of how it works, jillmwo. It's more chit-chat than reviews, though.

http://www.librarything.com/talktopic.php?topic=21943

17fyrefly98
Feb 28, 2008, 10:13pm

Heh, okay, the book(s) I was referencing are The Fionavar Tapestry by Guy Gavriel Kay.

In this book, Fionavar is the "first of all worlds", and the idea is that the Arthur-Guenevere-Lancelot triangle and all of its accompanying sorrow is curse and atonement for the sin of killing the children - and not just the triangle on Earth, but the same loss repeated over and over across all of the worlds.

Other versions I've read suggest that the incest itself was Arthur's great sin, and repayment of that is the reason for Guenevere's childlessness/Guenevere & Lancelot's betrayal/the fall of Camelot. This was the first time I'd encountered the killing of the children... it just seems so unlike Arthur, you know?

So, there, I've re-un-semi-spoiled everyone. Green light given. :)

18sandragon
Feb 29, 2008, 1:09am

fyrefly98, I'm glad you brought this up! I only know the very basic of the Arthurian tales and the children killing part of the Fionavar Tapestry always confused me. I knew Arthur was being punished for something but had no idea really why he did what he did. I didn't know about Mordred. I am definitely going to reread the series this year and it looks like this group read is going to help me understand more of what GGK hints at or is vague about.

19clamairy
Feb 29, 2008, 9:46am

Okay, how can it possibly be a sin on his part if he DID NOT KNOW?

20maggie1944
Feb 29, 2008, 10:39am

Ah, therein lies the classic tragic element. Life just isn't fair, is it. Plus it is my thought that Morgana just wasn't a woman you should be messin' around with, in any case. Go look for a nice girl, eh?

21clamairy
Edited: Mar 2, 2008, 7:50pm

Well, that's one of the things I liked about certain Arthur books. Neither one of them knew.

22clamairy
Feb 29, 2008, 2:51pm

Wait, is that a spoiler?
LOL

23DaynaRT
Edited: Feb 29, 2008, 3:24pm

If no one else is reading the book I am, do I need to stay in the spoiler thread?

24clamairy
Feb 29, 2008, 3:25pm

Well, we have to figure out what constitutes a spoiler for an Arthurian themed book!

25DaynaRT
Feb 29, 2008, 3:27pm

There's a dude named Merlin in my book.

OH CRAP!

26katylit
Feb 29, 2008, 3:47pm

lol!

fyrefly, I'm really glad you're reading The Fionavar Tapestry books too! It's been ages since I read them, like sandragon and I'd forgotten/or never clued into the references to the murders of the children. I'll be re-reading those books after The Crystal Cave trilogy now I guess!

The tragedy of Arthur, sometimes he frustrates me 'cause he seems so clueless and other times I'm just so sad for him 'cause he seems so much the victim of circumstance - everyone scheming around him.

27clamairy
Edited: Feb 29, 2008, 3:57pm

Well, compared to all these books, I think if we ever did find out the details of the life of the 'real Arthur' we'd be sorely disappointed! LOL

28katylit
Feb 29, 2008, 4:04pm

LOL, yeah, I don't think I'd ever want to really know the real guy! The fictional ones are MUCH more interesting ;-)

29clamairy
Feb 29, 2008, 4:05pm

Hey, isn't there someone reading Arthurian non-fiction? What's the skinny on Arthur? According to wikipedia he may or may not have existed. LOL

I found this:
Thomas Charles-Edwards commented that "at this stage of the enquiry, one can only say that there may well have been an historical Arthur {but}… the historian can as yet say nothing of value about him"


but also this:

David Dumville has written, in perhaps the most famous scholarly quotation on the "historical Arthur", "I think we can dispose of him {Arthur} quite briefly. He owes his place in our history books to a ‘no smoke without fire’ school of thought... The fact of the matter is that there is no historical evidence about Arthur; we must reject him from our histories and, above all, from the titles of our books."{10} Indeed, some academics argue that Arthur was originally a fictional hero of folklore – or even a half-forgotten Celtic deity – who became credited with real deeds in the distant past,


I prefer to be a believer! ;o)

30DaynaRT
Feb 29, 2008, 4:09pm

You don't want to get me started on real vs. fictional Arthur! It's something I've studied for years.....because I'm weird.

31katylit
Feb 29, 2008, 4:12pm

I like the 'no smoke without fire' school of thought. There just had to be some sort of fellow named something like Arthur somewhere around Cornwall way right?

I think I'll just continue on believing there was somebody sometime!

32clamairy
Feb 29, 2008, 4:13pm

Well, here's your chance to show off some of the massive brain of yours, flee! I really would love to hear what you think!

Let me start another thread for it, though. Just so those people who want to talk about Arthur in literature only won't get bored and wander off.

33katylit
Feb 29, 2008, 4:14pm

Yeah, I'd like to hear about it flee!

34DaynaRT
Feb 29, 2008, 4:15pm

oh gosh
/blush

I'll have to come up with something good...it may have to wait until Monday when I have time to collect my thoughts.

35clamairy
Feb 29, 2008, 4:16pm

Okeedokey.

36sandragon
Feb 29, 2008, 5:12pm

Wasn't the movie a few years back, King Arthur, with Keira Knightly and Clive Owen, based on new evidence found about Arthur? I could be completely off here...

37littlegeek
Feb 29, 2008, 6:52pm

#36 I heard it was awful, awful.

Here's the cool thing--I got my Mary Stewart today and started reading it. I love it so far.

#21 And I agree with clam, one of the great things about Mists of Avalon is how it humanizes all the "scheming" and "evil" characters. I especially love the way she handles the romantic triangle. I can only imagine the controversy that sparked!

As for spoilers, how is it possible for an adult reader, or movie watcher for that matter, to remain ignorant of the basic plots of Arthurian legend? If you are such an individual, stay off the threads until you're ready. What's another week or two?

Just my opinion.

38streamsong
Mar 1, 2008, 12:50pm

So I've started Mary Stewart's The Wicked Day.

I can see why it's not in her 'Merlin Trilogy'--it's the story of Mordred and appears that Merlin will be out of the picture. As I said above, I've never found Mordred to be very sympathetic, probably due to my memories of David Hemmings' smirking Mordred in the Camelot musical film.

It does refer to Arthur's attempt to murder his heir by setting the babies adrift in a boat. And according to this version, several of Arthur's bastard's did die in the incident. Mordred's name is linked to being a name being 'boy of-or from-the sea'.

39fyrefly98
Edited: Mar 1, 2008, 2:00pm

>36 sandragon:, 37 King Arthur the movie wasn't terrible... well, yes, kind of trashily terrible, and Keira Knightly as Guenevere in blue body paint and a bunch of leather straps as "warrior garb" was pretty silly, but there's plenty of eye candy, and it's at least a plausible portrayal of a historical Arthur. So: not a good movie, exactly, but totally popcorn-worthy guilty pleasure watching.

There was a show on the Discovery Channel or the History Channel or something that aired about the same time about the "real" Arthur, with some archaeology about finding the real Camelot, that I thought was much better. Can't remember what it was called, though.

40clamairy
Mar 1, 2008, 4:37pm

#39 - Oh, I think I have a vague recollection of that documentary... or maybe it was on 'In Search Of' back in the 80s. I was addicted to that show.

41sandragon
Mar 1, 2008, 11:54pm

From The Crystal Cave, answer from a grown up friend to a 6yo Merlin's question: "Now how in middle-earth do you think I know that?"

42Busifer
Mar 2, 2008, 4:20am

I'm still in two minds about participating. In the end I know I want to read some 'archetypal' Arthur myth so I can use that as a point of reference when reading other texts that may allude or draw on the Arthurian myths. Anyone have a good suggestion on which book to chose? As I'd do this more as an educational exercise than anything else the book must be relatively easy to read or I'll get stuck ;-)

43Choreocrat
Mar 2, 2008, 6:15am

I've run across an Arthur story (don't remember what it's called), where Mordred's hatred for Arthur is an unrequited love for Arthur on Mordred's part. An interesting twist, even if a little unrealistic for the time (although possible). What other unconventional theories have others seen?

That reminds me that there was an article about a series by Jo Walton set in Tir Tanagiri, which is a high fantasy re-imagining of the Arthurian myth. I've never read it, but it sounded interesting.

44hearts3134
Mar 2, 2008, 7:13pm

If anyone's still looking for books, I have these in my library. As I remember they are based at least in the beginning on the Arthur legend. Guardian of the Balance (Merlin's Descendants, Vol. 1), Guardian of the Trust (Merlin's Descendants #2), Guardian of the Vision (Merlin's Descendants, Vol. 3), Guardian of the Promise All are by Irene Radford and quick reads as I recall.

I'm still not sure if I'll be participating or not, I'm in the middle of a book right now and I don't usually read more than one at a time, especially if neither one is a reread. But I did buy The Once and Future King today in hopes. I will be reading all the posts as usual anyway so... let the lurking begin :D

45oh2read
Edited: Mar 2, 2008, 7:31pm

#21 Clam I think that's a spoiler. My book you know, and I haven't got to that point.
Oh, well, I won't hold it against you THIS time.

My favorite theme so far in Mists is the theme of woman/goddess/motherearth. Igraine, Viviaine, and Morgause come from the Isle of Avalon, a matriarchial (sp?) society, and Igraine seems to chafe against the Roman patriarchy. These themes appeal to me as one can see from my library. I'll be watching to see how these ideas keep going.
BTW, if I'm real worried about spoilers I'll stay away, but I have to agree with littlegeek. How spoiled can it REALLY be?

46clamairy
Edited: Mar 2, 2008, 7:49pm

#45 - So sorry!! In my defense I'll say that if you know anything about Arthur, you have to know 'that' is coming. I have yet to encounter an Arthur book without that relationship, but I'll edit it out.

47clamairy
Mar 2, 2008, 8:17pm

So, I'm reading about the joust/combat in Chapter VII of TOaFK and all I can think of the fight between Arthur and the Black Knight in Monty Python and Holy Grail. Granted, there are no limbs flying, but I can't help but wonder if this book gave MP that idea!

48streamsong
Mar 3, 2008, 12:46am

Busifer--you might want to check out Sir Thomas Malory's Le Mort d'Arthur. i think it's the archetypal work, but it can be heavy going.

49Morphidae
Mar 3, 2008, 11:23am

>17 fyrefly98: It's just a flesh wound!

50reading_fox
Mar 3, 2008, 11:42am

#37 - easily. People objected when I gave the ending of Romeo and Juliet away in a discussion about what makes a spoiler. And if you can find that spoilerish then anything could be. Despite living in the right part of the right country for my formative years, I still only have a very vague idea of what's considered "arthurian canon". Yes I know there are certain key events but I don't know in what order, and I seem to be missing all this Modred business.

So I'm with Busifer, If anyone who can point to an easy and available guide, it would be appreciated. Particularly Modred, as he's a key character in Port eternity and I'd understand it a lot better if I knew what was supposed to have happened to him.

51littlegeek
Mar 3, 2008, 12:29pm

You could just spend 3 hours watching Excalibur! Then you can read whatever you want. It's pretty basic and covers all the major stories. Then read books for nuance.

I'm loving The Crystal Cave.

52Rullakartiina
Mar 4, 2008, 5:26am

Busifer, I started reading The Once And Future King with very little knowledge of King Arthur. I'm halfway through it now and I'm really enjoying it; it is entertaining and funny. More J. K. Rowling than J. R. R. Tolkien. It is a thick book though, so it is not exactly a quick read.

White mentions Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur occasionally and I get the feeling his book tries to make it more accessible. Not that I'd know much about it, I was taught Kalevala instead of Arthurian legends. :)

53Busifer
Mar 4, 2008, 7:10am

Thanks everyone for advice. I can't read french so I'll have to skip Le Mort d'Arthur.
The Once and Future King is by many deemed as quite heavy going - like reading_fox I'd appreciate something that's more available. I guess I'll check out the Excalibur flick if it's like you say, Littlegeek; that it has a bit about everything... I do have a DVD player, even if I've practically stopped watching TV ;-)

54clamairy
Mar 4, 2008, 9:46am

#53 - If you REALLY want accessibility you could watch the Disney flick The Sword in the Stone. ;o)

55reading_fox
Mar 4, 2008, 9:54am

#54 - I bet that doesn't have the baby killing and incest? adultary in it that was mentioned upthread.

56Busifer
Mar 4, 2008, 10:00am

No, I wouldn't think so either, and I want the full story!
Not least because I've read Fionavar and Kay is kind of smug about his treatment of the Arthur myth in that one... and I'd like to have something to read it against.

57clamairy
Mar 4, 2008, 10:12am

Busifer, I would SERIOUSLY recommend you get your hands on the Mary Stewart Arthur trilogy, which so many have chosen to reread for this. Yes, I liked Marion Zimmer Bradley's The Mists of Avalon, but the Stewart books win hands down for me.

Hey, has anyone ever read the Arthurian book Sword at Sunset? It won some sort of award (I think), but I was never able to make myself finish it. Too dreary for me.

58Busifer
Mar 4, 2008, 10:16am

OK, I'll note that one (three!) down. Thanks!

59clamairy
Mar 4, 2008, 10:18am

There's magic in them, but it's very earthy Druidy stuff. There's no toad laden potions or such, or backward Latin phrases.

60streamsong
Mar 4, 2008, 10:59am

You can easily find an English copy of Le Morte d'Arthur. I would guess it's been translated into many languages. It was published in 1485 so even if you read French you'd need a translation. Wiki article here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Le_morte_d%27arthur

The Wicked Day is casting doubts onto just who ordered the killing of the babies. Arthur? Merlin? King Lot? Queen Morgause? They all had their reasons and reasons for speading the rumor of blame onto the others. Of course, I'm on the side that it was just a nasty rumor that M or A did it.

Personally, though, I believe Shrek III has the real story.

61oh2read
Mar 4, 2008, 12:30pm

Busifer, I'm with clamairy on that. I'm reading The Mists of Avalon but I do plan to read the Mary Stewart books. I have The Crystal Cave right now; will do the others as time permits.
The druid/earthy/pagan stuff is great.

62mckait
Mar 4, 2008, 5:15pm

Has anyone read the Stephen R Lawhead series? I waited for years.. until they were all out. I read them straight through. I hated all of the, except the last..and I was underwhelmed by that one.

Loved the MaryStewart books and Once and Future King as well as The book of Merlin by T.H White And.. of course. Mists of Avalon which I have read about 12 times. ( no kidding )
Not sure I am up to rereading any right now .. so I iwll just lurk here!

63sandragon
Mar 4, 2008, 6:17pm

I read The Crystal Cave several years ago and was indifferent. I was looking for overt adventure and magic and romance. This was when I was reading stuff like the Forgotten Realms books and The Belgariad. But I figured I'd try it again someday and this time it is just right. I'm less impatient for 'things' to start happening and I'm happy to just read about Merlin.

64Choreocrat
Mar 4, 2008, 6:37pm

62 - I've read and still own the Stephen Lawhead series. I don't enjoy them as much as I used to, but I do enjoy Taliesin still as an interesting background to Avalon and the Lady of the Lake

Speaking of, I'm up to The Singing Sword in the Camulod Chronicles. This volume is mostly concerned with the construction of Excalibur, rather than the founding of Camelot (that was the first volume, The Skystone). There are a lot of details on sword making, metalwork and smithing, and further discussion of the depravity of the late Roman Empire. In addition there is the inspiration for the round table, and the further development of the Lady of the Lake. One of the things I like about this series is its innovative takes on the different parts of the Arthurian myths. All the parts are there, but they've been carefully rationalised and cunningly worked in as understandable plot devices which could easily be reinterpreted to create the versions that appear in the more fantasy based Arthurian stories.

65Vanye
Mar 5, 2008, 8:22pm

I'm reading Skystone was considering Tolkien's translation of Sir Gawain & The Green Knight but just didn't feel like dealing w/poetry right now! I got Skystone, Swinging Sword & Saxon Shore in PB @ a used book store for $10 bucks w/matching covers (will look for the others later).

66jeri889
Mar 5, 2008, 10:08pm

I started The Winter Prince today, it looks promising. Has anyone else read this book?

67oh2read
Mar 7, 2008, 1:03pm

You guys are NOT going to believe this. After I called THREE libraries, not 1 but 3, I found two books in my own personal stash that would have sufficed. Idylls of the King and Le Morte D'Arthur were just quietly sitting on my shelf, behind some books I haven't touched in ages.
I guess I need to spend some more time cataloging today.
Am enjoying The Mists of Avalon though, wouldn't have missed it.

68maggie1944
Edited: Mar 7, 2008, 2:38pm

jeri889 - I started The Winter King but have not made much progress because I am distracted by Black Horses for the King. Black Horses is a YA book, I bought it on my Kindle, and is quite entertaining. McCaffrey did some research I am sure; however, King Arthur is really not yet a very important character.

I really liked the beginning of The Winter King and I am sure I will return to it once finished with Black horses. (-;

69oh2read
Mar 7, 2008, 2:45pm

Did anyone pick A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court by Mark Twain? I just found it on the shelf too. See my previous post. Argh!!!

I would love to know what anyone thinks of this book, as I have intended to read it for a while.

70DaynaRT
Mar 7, 2008, 2:51pm

>69 oh2read:
I dropped my copy of it in the bathtub because it was so boring that I fell asleep.

71clamairy
Mar 7, 2008, 2:56pm

#70 - Aww, flee. I loved that book, but then I adore Mark Twain.

I really really really need to read more of his works.
*sigh*
I have to read more and do less interwebbing. I really do...

72DaynaRT
Mar 7, 2008, 2:59pm

I still have the very puffy copy of the book on my shelf. I guess me and Mr. Twain just don't mix.

73maggie1944
Mar 7, 2008, 3:27pm

fleela - first good belly laugh of the day, thank you! I go back and forth with Mark, somedays I like him for a glimpse into historical Americanisms, and then other days, I am bored, too.

74cmbohn
Mar 7, 2008, 3:28pm

#50 - No, wait, how does Romeo and Juliet end?

75DaynaRT
Mar 7, 2008, 3:29pm

Juliet = unwed teenage mother
Romeo = deadbeat dad

76fyrefly98
Mar 7, 2008, 4:36pm

>75 DaynaRT: emphasis on the "dead", eh what?

I didn't particularly care for A Connecticut Yankee..., but it's been a while since I read it, so I can't remember a whole lot of the details as to why not. Twain's just not my particular cup of tea, I guess.

77Vanye
Mar 7, 2008, 11:19pm

#69-lol- Does this mean you have not yet finished cataloging your library? You might find a lot more things you didn't know you had if that is the case. I've cataloged all of mine & still get surprised when I get poking around in my bookshelves! 8^)

78cmbohn
Mar 8, 2008, 12:18am

#75 - That Shakespeare dude was really ahead of his time!

79foggidawn
Mar 8, 2008, 8:36am

#75, 78 -- I remember having a discussion in college with one of my friends, and we decided that, had they not died, they would have broken up within two weeks, so our scenario pretty much matches up with yours!

80mckait
Mar 8, 2008, 8:57am

LOL @ fleela''s post

#67 I adored that book ( Mists) I am not in an Artur-y mood just now...
so am off on other ventures. I have red so many Arthurian books, I don't remember them all. I have not cataloged them because I gave most of them to my son. In fact I have not cataloged anything that I have upstairs in the spare rooms. ..and there is an entire shelf or two in my LR ...

My stack of TBR is growing out of control.. I don't know whether to cry or celebrate my wealth!

81streamsong
Edited: Mar 8, 2008, 10:58am

I've never read Mists of Avalon but definitely would like to read it based on the discussion here.

I read A Conneticut in King Arthur's Court a long time ago. I like Mark Twain, too. There were some very funny parts as the hardnosed Yankee time-travelled back to Arthur's time and dazzled everyone with his 'modern' knowledge. If I remember right, Merlin came off as jealous and not a nice guy and I disliked the ending.

I'm still working through The Wicked Day. I've enjoyed it so far. As usualy, Mary Stewart has a bit of a different take on things. Lancelot does not appear--instead the third corner of the triangle is Bedwyr. She is now brining forth events that she also mentions in The Prince and the Pilgrim so I can see the tie in. I agree that this book is definitely not as 'magical' as her Merlin trilogy.

I'm to the point in the tale where death and betrayal and battle begin. Ugh. Why couldn't it turn out differently this time around? Blasted Greek tragedy; I think I hear a chorus singing doom in the background.

McKait--your cataloging and TBR sound like mine!

edited to fix touchstone

82maggie1944
Mar 8, 2008, 12:52pm

I have finished reading Black horses for the king and liked it. It is pre-King Arthur and is about bringing war horses from Europe continent to the isles, and about the invention of horse shoes. McCaffrey wrote it as a YA book with fair amounts of historical descriptions and an interesting story line. In her Afterword she disclosed that farriery as a profession was not established until 1160 but argues it was reasonable that some sort of 'horseshoe' could have been used. She seems to have done a reasonable amount of research and does not include Merlin because she finds no historical evidence. The love triangle of Arthur, Guinevere and Lancelot was also not included as this story was set before Arthur was married.

I found the book to be a tad pedantic but sufficiently fun to keep me reading to the end. I also 'fess up to learning some stuff.

If I was still teaching, I would recommend this book, particularly to boys who don't much like to read.

It is available for the Kindle from Amazon.

83MrsLee
Mar 8, 2008, 7:43pm

I loved A conneticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, but then I'm a big Twain fan and I enjoy spoofs of that sort. If a person is sentimentally attached to the characters in a tale (like I am to the LOtR characters), it's not as fun to read a spoof. I can do it for LOtR, but it has to be a good spoof done with a love of the original at the back of it.

I can't make up my mind which book to read for this! I want to read several, but how can I?

84Jim53
Mar 10, 2008, 9:00am

I started a re-read, after many years, of The Crystal Cave, and decided it wasn't my cup of root beer right now. I haven't seen anyone mention Gene Wolfe's Castleview (subtitled "An Arthurian epic of modern Illinois"), which is one of my favorites, so I'll talk about that when the time comes.

85Choreocrat
Mar 10, 2008, 7:36pm

I'm up to The Eagles' Brood. The Eagles' Brood is mostly concerned with Uther and Merlyn growing up, and the events leading up to the birth of Arthur. This one has a narrator switch from the last two; it's now narrated by Merlyn, and he has quite a different voice to Publius Varrus. This Merlyn is somewhat judgemental and tends to be set in his ways once he's made a decision. If I hadn't read the other two, I'd think that it was the author's prejudices showing through, but it seems to be a deliberately written flaw in the character, which makes for interesting reading.

Aunt Luceiia is a wonderful character. She's a strong female character, written by a man, who is both sensible and logical, but still feminine and loving. She's also not a love interest in this book, being an older lady by now. It's quite a relief to read characters like her. That having been said, Jack Whyte is a very 'male' writer in a lot of ways. Battles, violence, manly men, pretty (albeit still strong) women, and a dash of philosophy. Everyone I've discussed this series with has commented on the maleness of the writing style, even though only one or two objected to it. Most people found it interesting, including the women who read it.

Is the Arthurian legend a 'masculine' legend, with its battles and brave knights, or 'feminine' with its knights in shining armour and love triangle? Both, and neither, of course, because you can't really put a label of masculine or feminine on a legend, but it is interesting in that it has elements that stereotypically appeal to both the masculine and feminine psyche.

86jeri889
Edited: Mar 10, 2008, 8:36pm

Will - I somehow read Uther before I read any of the other in the Camulod chronicles (it was a great book to read while I was traveling through Wales). But because of that, when I read The Eagle's Brood I was furious with Merlyn's character all the way through the book, and a bit too sympathetic with Uther, he wasn't always the most well behaved.

I would love to discuss with you more the character of Owain of the Caves if you would be so inclined. He was a character I started liking more and more until The Sorcerer: Metamorphosis (I think). I just did not like where Whyte took this character.

edited because I can not spell today.

87Choreocrat
Mar 10, 2008, 10:20pm

I have to agree that Whyte's use of Owain of the Caves in The Sorceror is very unexpected, and perhaps a little too abrupt for me. I had somewhat seen him as a successor (role-wise) to Cymric. I think he just needed someone to fulfil that role, and Owain fitted. It also helped to contribute to Merlyn's continued withdrawal into himself at that stage.

I came across Uther much later than the other ones (after all but The Lance Thrower and The Eagle), and found it quite difficult to identify with Uther, coloured as I was by his treatment at the hands of Merlyn. I actually didn't get through Uther *blushes* but I plan to try again in this rereading of the series.

88jeri889
Mar 10, 2008, 10:42pm

Uther has more info on Igraine's role and where his sister comes from (which goes against all other Arthurian stories). You, should give it another try, I'd be happy to do a read along with you since it is my fav in the series.

**Possible SPOILER (will attempt to be vague)**
As for Owain, he grows quite a bit in Uther and I saw his final role in The Sorcerer as betrayal (maybe just to me the reader). I felt it was too easy for him to become that person again. So glad to find another fan of Whyte's books : Thanks for the input.

89clamairy
Mar 11, 2008, 7:51am

How many people haven't gotten their hands on an Arthur book, or haven't decided what they are reading yet?

90maggie1944
Mar 11, 2008, 9:02am

42.

91Busifer
Mar 11, 2008, 9:04am

ROFLMAO!!!

*sorry. couldn't help it!*

92drneutron
Mar 11, 2008, 9:04am

BTW, today's Douglas Adams' birthday...

93maggie1944
Mar 11, 2008, 9:24am

I don't know what ROFLMAO!!! means and Busifer always says such interesting things. Darn.

94drneutron
Mar 11, 2008, 9:39am

Rolling On The Floor Laughing My A** Off...

95DaynaRT
Mar 11, 2008, 9:41am

96maggie1944
Mar 11, 2008, 9:46am

Awwwww

97oh2read
Mar 11, 2008, 9:58am

#77 Uh, yeah ":s
I finished after I posted that, but between my LT and BM inventories, I still think there are more hanging around somewhere. The totals just don't make sense; I know I had more books than that.

Thanks everyone for your views on Connecticut Yankee; I may save it for later. I just got ANOTHER book for the Arthur read, like I'm ever gonna finish Mists of Avalon. I'm always on here.

98Morphidae
Mar 11, 2008, 10:09am

I'll be reading The Grey King which I got from the library as soon as I've finished Pride and Prejudice which is growing on me.

99oh2read
Mar 11, 2008, 11:25am

#89 Clam if your shelf is like mine was (see earlier post) then something should pop up!

THIS MAY BE A SPOILER!
I'm finding in Mists of Avalon that there are really two love triangles: the known Arthur/Gwynhyfar/Lancelet, but also Arthur/Morgaine/Lancelet. I did not realize Morgaine was such a key player here. In the best known legends the Lancelot/Guinevere thing is supposed to result in the end of Camelot/peace, but I think that Ms. Bradley brings out Arthur's indecisiveness about Gwynhyfar/Morgaine, and how this may play a role in the downfall of Arthur's kingship.
I think I'll write the rest of my essay in a review on my library page. Sorry for the windiness.

100DaynaRT
Mar 11, 2008, 11:29am

>99 oh2read:
Arthur/Morgaine is my favorite relationship in MoA.

101Rullakartiina
Mar 11, 2008, 11:38am

>99 oh2read:

It's going to be interesting to see how the end of Camelot is described/explained in these books we've chosen. Based on what you guys have hinted here, I think there are going to be major differences in what the main characters are like and why certain events happened the way they did.

102littlegeek
Mar 11, 2008, 11:40am

Morgaine is great in that book.

103clamairy
Mar 11, 2008, 11:49am

#99 - "Clam if your shelf is like mine was (see earlier post) then something should pop up!"

Oh, you misunderstood my reason for asking. I am already reading my choice, I was just wondering if everyone else had figured out what they are reading yet, or if we are still waiting for some to decide.
:o)

104DaynaRT
Mar 11, 2008, 11:50am

I've already finished!

/taps foot impatiently

:P

105clamairy
Mar 11, 2008, 12:02pm

I've had to set my Arthur aside to read not one but two book club reads, AND an ER book! LOL

106littlegeek
Mar 11, 2008, 12:03pm

I read the first Mary Stewart book, but not the whole trilogy, but I've read many of the other books.

107oh2read
Mar 11, 2008, 12:43pm

#102 I agree. Did not know she played such a key role to the legend.

#103 and #105 I have signed on to theme reads in other groups and ER. If I actually get a review book I'm in big trouble. I may have bitten off too much. :0
BTW am sending you a private msg about another thread.

108clamairy
Mar 11, 2008, 12:57pm

#107 - Not to fret. They are very flexible with the time you are given to review your ER books. Some of them take forever to ship, anyway!

109MrsLee
Mar 11, 2008, 4:58pm

For the sake of expediency, I'll read The Story of King Arthur and His Knights by Howard Pyle. It's on my shelves. I'm in a similar boat to clamairy's though, have several books I'm reading with others, or just want to get read. I fell behind while I was sick. So, I'll read this when I get a chance and drop into the discussion then.

Sometime soon I'm going to read the Mary Stewart books though. I think I read them in high school and loved them.

110maggie1944
Mar 11, 2008, 6:00pm

I have one foot in the "I finished my read" group and one foot in the "I am still working on....". Finished Black horses for the King and am reading The Winter King.

111Vanye
Mar 14, 2008, 2:44am

I'm reading Skystone & it has a definite masculine slant is a stark contrast to Mists of Avalon w/it's feminine bent. Am about 5 chapters in & the first few were heavy wading (lots of testestaron). It's getting better now tho as there is more backstory coming out. 8^)
#82-maggie- just the other day on History Channel i saw a show about ancient technologies & they said in that show that it was indeed the Romans who started putting iron shoes on horses. This was made necessary by the roads they were building all over their empire which were far harder on the horses feet than the grassy pathways they were replacing. 8^)

112maggie1944
Mar 14, 2008, 9:25am

cool

113streamsong
Mar 14, 2008, 10:23am

I've finished The Wicked Day, too.

There was some interesting material as an afterward where she quotes the legends from Geoffrey of Monmouth's 12th century History of the Kings of Britain and Malory's Le Morte de Arthur as well as discussing why she chose her take on the outcome.

She mentioned that she might actually have had Mordred and King Arthur dying side-by-side instead of adversaries except for Merlin's prophecies in the earlier books she had written.

I don't think I'll get any more Arthur books read for a while (no more in the TBR pile for one thing and I'm also in another couple of group reads), but I've added a few Netflix movies to my queue, including one with new age Vedantic -inspired Deepak Chopra's take on the spiritual implications of the tale, which I thought might be unique.

114hobbitprincess
Mar 14, 2008, 9:33pm

I'm reading The Once and Future King with some of my students, coincidentally. The copy I am using is an old one. The drawing of Arthur on the cover reminds me of King Edward Longshanks's son in Braveheart, a character I completely disliked. I've read the book numerous times, but for some reason, that picture has me thinking about Arthur in a different way, as odd as that seems.
It's been wonderful introducing this book to new readers, especially since they are all enjoying it tremendously.

115oh2read
Edited: Mar 16, 2008, 1:31pm

Speaking of that streamsong, The Mists of Avalon has me seeing him in a whole new light too, and it ain't pretty. He's not the noble, unblemished character here that many of the Arthurian legends would have you believe.
Also I must confess, I have about 100 pages left, which I could knock out easily this afternoon, but I am so tired of these twists and turns, I'm going to have to have a break. I don't know if I'm even going to get to my other book for this read, cause I have just about burned myself out.

116LittleKnife
Mar 16, 2008, 7:22pm

I'm not generally joining in beacuse my Mary Stewart are still with my parents - but I'm fascinated by the general thoughts starting to come across here particularly about gender differences and hero expectations.
I first read Wicked Day & Last Enchantment when I was about 11 and they rather formed my opinion of the whole legend. From then on anything less than strong, scheming women, magic and betrayal was a disappointment so medieval romances were lost on me.

117clamairy
Mar 17, 2008, 8:15pm

#114 - Can you find a link to that cover for us, hp? You have made me very curious now!

118Choreocrat
Mar 17, 2008, 9:11pm

I'm up to The Saxon Shore. Merlyn is somewhat less irritating by now. This novel expands the framework a little, bringing in Vortigern and Horsa, the Eirish Scottii clan and a bunch of new characters. It's interesting because

**small spoiler for The Eagles' Brood**
although Arthur is actually in this book, he barely rates as a character because he's still a toddler when The Saxon Shore finishes.
**end spoiler**

I'm really enjoying Connor as a character. He's definitely my favourite of all the characters throughout the series (Aunt Luceiia is next, I think, and Shelagh).

119foggidawn
Mar 19, 2008, 10:42am

I checked out The Mists of Avalon, but am having a hard time getting into it, to tell the truth. Life is just too crazy right now.

120maggie1944
Mar 19, 2008, 7:53pm

I read through the first battle scene in The Winter King and it was well done. I liked the writing and felt I learned a great deal about how primitive people would deal with conflict. It feels quite realistic, and then Arthur arrives. The author starts out a bit over the top in describing this paragon; however, given his penchant for realism I think the awe will probably simmer down.

One small problem; many place names and person names have spelling which I suspect is Welsh -ish, and impossible to know how to say. I need a Welsh pronunciation guide in the book! Nicely the author did give a place name list and pointed out which were truly historic places.

So far, I recommend it. The book, not the list.....

121jeri889
Edited: Mar 20, 2008, 5:48pm

maggie1944- If you follow this link Cornwell has added a pronunciation guide for the names in the book http://bernardcornwell.net/index.cfm?page=12 you'll need to scroll down a bit. And if I remember correctly somewhere in the questions and answers (maybe archived now) is a pronunciation guide for the place names as well. Enjoy and I hope this helps.

edited for my spelling errors, and if there are more I do apologize (new keyboard).

122maggie1944
Mar 20, 2008, 8:03pm

Thank you very much. I believe that will be a great help.

I am constantly amazed how one can find almost anything on the web, if only one knows how to search. It is a skill at which I am only an amateur.

123clamairy
Edited: Mar 24, 2008, 9:27pm

Well, I'm not so sure if this group read/discussion has been such a huge success.

:oS

How many of us gave up, or are still slogging away?
How many never even tried?

Let's get some feedback on this.

124maggie1944
Mar 24, 2008, 10:05pm

I am still reading The Winter King albeit slowly. I spend entirely too much time reading The Green Dragon.

Funny what putting a bogus book in post will do.... (-;

125clamairy
Mar 24, 2008, 10:07pm

Okay, so I'm not the only one who hasn't given up yet...
:o)

126clamairy
Mar 24, 2008, 10:07pm

Nice book, by the way! Hee hee!

127jeri889
Edited: Mar 24, 2008, 10:34pm

I finished The Winter Prince by Elizabeth E. Wein for this group read but I think it fell short of being a truly Arthurian story.

The story is told from Mordred's point of view when he is around 20 (I think) and his jealousy over Arthur's new son and heir. Arthur only shows up in the story to give a guiding hand or a bit of fatherly advice to the boys on occasion. There were some very dark aspects to the story regarding Mordred and his mother (a creepier story than Modred's parentage).

I didn't really enjoy the book, and I am not compelled to read anything else by the author, but I have read a few of the others that have been mentioned here and look forward to everyone's reviews and ideas. I do like the idea of themed reads - easier on the pocket book.

I just want to add that there is much more I could say about the book, I'm just afraid of including spoilers.

128Rullakartiina
Mar 25, 2008, 1:10am

And I finished The Once And Future King and liked it.

I loved the characters: they were complicated, (mostly good) people with faults that felt real. White described them with understanding and gentle irony.

The story got really dark, though. The Sword in the Stone was a happy and hopeful (reminded me of Harry Potter) and then it got steadily darker. To me, it gave off the same sense of impending doom (influence of the World War II?) that The Lord of the Rings had.

I'd love to know if this "things start out great and then it all gets steadily worse" is typical in re-tellings of Arthurian legend.

129Morphidae
Mar 25, 2008, 7:18am

I read The Grey King and Silver on the Tree by Cooper. So little was mentioned about Arthur that I can't really say I understand why it's considered "Arthurian." Celtic, yes. Arthurian? No.

130Jim53
Mar 25, 2008, 10:37am

#128 I'd love to know if this "things start out great and then it all gets steadily worse" is typical in re-tellings of Arthurian legend.

While "steadily worse" might be a bit strong, I think it's fair to say that this is a good statement of one of Malory's themes, which can also be summed up as "Chickens always come home to roost eventually" or "Karma might not be instant, but boy is it gonna get you." While the Arthurian tales contain many exciting moments, an important part of the story (IMHO) is the idea that in trying to preserve his vision by evil means (i.e., killing the children), Arthur sowed the seeds of his own destruction, and that of the vision he was trying to protect.

Most authors don't go beyond this when they re-tell the story. At least one has, however. Clam, are we to the point where we start talking more about our books, or are we waiting for folks to say they're done?

131streamsong
Mar 25, 2008, 11:50am

#128--I agree about The Once and Future King. The Sword in the Stone is light and adventurous and makes a good read aloud to your kids. But I don't see the following sections like that at all.

clam--I kind of enjoyed the way this thread was done. I got one book off my TBR pile (unfortunately learned of two more I want to read--well one and a series--eek).

The Reading Globally group does a similar sort of topical group read. They do have members post a few questions that the group might think about prior to the start of the reading. I'm thinking it will generate a bit more conversation (April will be the first of theirs I've tried). It might be something to consider.

BTW I just received the Arthurian Omen. Did anyone else receive it? I'll post my thoughts about that one here as/after I read--and of course I'll be interested to hear what others think. It actually **is** a modern day suspense/mystery as it was described in the blurb as 'in the tradition of Mary Higgins Clark'--but it revolves around an Arthurian manuscript so it sort of relates.

132sandragon
Mar 25, 2008, 12:42pm

I finished The Crystal Cave which is all about Merlin. Arthur doesn't show up until the next book. Although the people of his time mostly considered Merlin a magician, the only thing magical about him were the visions he had occasionally and that he couldn't control. Otherwise, he was a learned man. He read a lot and observed and tried his hand at many things. He was an engineer, a naturalist, a physician, an astronomer. He was the renaissance man for his time. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

The more I think about this, the more I wonder if it won't be hard to discuss all of our different books in any depth. Each book will have its 'twist' on the Arthur legend. So how will we discuss this without giving anything away to others who haven't read the book yet?

133hfglen
Mar 25, 2008, 12:45pm

I re-read The Glastonbury legends by R.F. Treharne (touchstone pointing to the wrong book); scholarly and sensible, given that his most recent evidence is dated 1966. That proviso makes me think that one might just have reached its sell-by date. Then went on to Merlin by Stephen Lawton (same touchstone problem) and got stuck halfway.

134DaynaRT
Edited: Mar 25, 2008, 12:51pm

I also read a mostly Merlin book, The Iron Grail which is the second part of a trilogy by Robert Holdstock. Arthur appears, but only as a "ghost" of his future self.

In the Merlin Codex trilogy, Merlin is an almost immortal wandering shaman. He's literally traveled around the globe. He's sailed with Jason on the Argo, and now he is helping Jason find his sons who were stolen by Medea.

On their quest, Jason and Merlin team up with various characters, one being a tribal king named Urtha, who you may know better as Uther.

135clamairy
Mar 25, 2008, 12:52pm

#132 - Good point, sandragon.

Maybe we should consider an Arthur spoiler thread, with a 'proceed at your own risk' statement. Those of us who won't lose sleep if something we haven't read yet gets spoiled can participate. Not sure how many of us that is...

136Vanye
Mar 25, 2008, 12:54pm

Well, still reading The Skystone & liking it better as I go along. A clearer picture of Roman occupied Britain is emerging. The story is taking place a couple generations before Arthur in this book-2 more books before he comes into the picture.8^)

137maggie1944
Mar 25, 2008, 2:02pm

Even tho I have not finished The Winter King I'd be happy to have a spoilers included thread started. I do not fear spoilers, oh, no, not me. I think I am reading a story the main parts of which I may have seen somewhere else, previously....

138clamairy
Mar 25, 2008, 7:20pm

Anyone else game?
Hmmm?

139Jim53
Mar 25, 2008, 7:24pm

As one of my namesakes says, Je suis prest.

140clamairy
Mar 25, 2008, 7:39pm

Is that like 'make it so?'

141maggie1944
Mar 25, 2008, 7:42pm

or, "I am ready"... my French is not good.

142Jim53
Mar 25, 2008, 9:47pm

Oui, Maggie, but do you know whose motto it is?

143maggie1944
Mar 25, 2008, 9:54pm

Je sais rein de tout. In English, I know nothing at all. (I am very much a baby but I am trying to get ready to be a tourist)

144Rullakartiina
Edited: Mar 26, 2008, 1:27am

I'd be there, too! :) Would like to talk more about Arthur and karma...

145maggie1944
Mar 26, 2008, 11:13am

karma? ancient Celtic religious idea?

146Rullakartiina
Mar 26, 2008, 12:06pm

Heh, yes. A new interpretation/theory?

147MrsLee
Mar 26, 2008, 2:13pm

I haven't begun my read yet, somehow got mired down in six large books that I'm puttering through. Must be the time of year, however, I would like a spoiler thread. If a book is well written, what do the details matter? Besides, I pretty much know the Arthur legend and most of it's sidelines. I just want to know if an author did a great job telling his view.

148oh2read
Mar 26, 2008, 3:31pm

I think a spoiler thread would be a good idea. All these books tell basically the same story, but with significant differences. Enough so that those of us reading different books won't necessarily be prevented from reading another one elsewhere in the group. Actually I have seen quite a few titles I would like to read later.
As for the darkness and "karma's gonna come back and getcha" idea, I definitely think you're right there. Even in The Mists of Avalon there was no slaughtering of babies by Arthur, but eventually he causes his own downfall through other actions meant in a positive light.

149katylit
Mar 26, 2008, 4:28pm

I've finally finished The Crystal Cave and agree with sandragon, she sums it up quite nicely. I'm game for a spoiler thread now.

I just received my copy of The Arthurian Omen too, thought it was kinda fun to be picked when participating in this GD theme read.