Arthur: The Once and Future Story

From the silvered and shadowed mists of Britain's Iron Age past comes the legend of King Arthur. Schooled by a mighty wizard, betrayed by his wife and his best friend, this greatest of legendary kings and his knights fought fierce invaders, rescued ladies in distress, and adventured to the far reaches of the realm to seek the Holy Grail. Although undone at the last by Mordred, the bards sing that he did not die but rather sailed to the faery realm where he waits for his country's darkest hour. It is then that he will come forth and save the day one last time. Certainly his legend has inspired a host of modern fantasy writers.

Read on for marvels, perils, and romance set in the Kingdom of Camelot.

The Winter King: A Novel of Arthur

By Bernard Cornwell

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Cornwell's Arthur is fierce, dedicated and complex, a man with many problems, most of his own making. His impulsive decisions sometimes have tragic ramifications, as when he lustfully takes Guinevere instead of the intended Ceinwyn, alienating his friends and allies and inspiring a bloody battle. The secondary characters are equally unexpected, and are ribboned with the magic and superstition of the times. Merlin impresses as a remarkable personage, a crafty schemer fond of deceit and disguise. Lancelot is portrayed as a warrior-pretender, a dishonest charmer with dark plans of his own; by contrast, Galahad seems the noble soldier of purpose and dedication. Guinevere, meanwhile, no gentle creature waiting patiently in the moonlight, has designs and plots of her own. The story of these characters and others is narrated forcefully and with dry wit by Derfel Cadarn, one of Arthur's warriors, who later becomes a monk.

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The Prince and the Pilgrim

By Mary Stewart

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Returning to the era of Arthur and his Camelot, Stewart has given life to two lesser-known characters from Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur. She enlarges upon and gives wonderful detail to Alexander, a young prince who sets off on a quest to avenge his
father's assassination and to Alice, a gentle young lass who accompanies her father on pilgrimages to Holy shrines. Their stories are told in five alternating chapters until they meet, fall in love, and vanquish the foe in the exciting climax.

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The Pendragon Chronicles: Heroic Fantasy from the Time of King Arthur

By edited by Mike Ashley

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Sixteen stories based on the Arthurian tradition, by such authors as John Steinbeck, Jane Yolen, Andre Norton, and others. Also included are a helpful guide to Arthurian names and characters and a bibliography of "100 Years of Arthurian Fiction."

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The Once and Future King

By T.H. White

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This is a well-loved retelling of the Arthurian legend, from Arthur's birth to the end of his reign, and is based largely on Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte Darthur.  The musical Camelot was based on it, as was Disney's The Sword in the Stone.  After White's death, a conclusion to The Once and Future King was found among his papers; it was published in 1977 as The Book of Merlyn.

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The Mists of Avalon

By Marion Zimmer Bradley

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Even readers who don't normally enjoy Arthurian legends will love this version, a retelling from the point of view of the women behind the throne. Morgaine (more commonly known as Morgan Le Fay) and Gwenhwyfar (a Welsh spelling of Guinevere) struggle for power, using Arthur as a way to score points and promote their respective worldviews.

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The Kingmaking

By Helen Hollick

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As the rightful son of Uther Pendragon, Arthur dreams of uniting the warring kings of Britain. Gwenhwyfar's hope, as the only daughter of Cuncedda, the Lion Lord of Gwynedd, is to join Arthur's cause. Hollick's first novel re-creates the uneasy political climate of fifth-century Britain, a land suffering under the rule of the tyrant Vortigern.
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The Eagle's Brood

By Jack Whyte

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This is the saga of the colony known as Camulod and the relationship between Merlyn and Uther Pendragon, the man who will father the legendary Arthur.

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The Sword and the Circle: King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table

By Rosemary Sutcliff

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A retelling of the adventures and exploits of King Arthur and his knights at the court of Camelot and elsewhere in the land of the Britons, based on Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur.
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Pendragon

By Steven R. Lawhead

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At the dawn of his reign, a young king must prove his greatness...or lose a realm. Arthur is king -- but darkest evil has descended upon Britain's shores in many guises. Fragile alliances fray and tear, threatening all the noble liege has won with his wisdom and his blood. In this black time of plague and pestilence, Arthur's most trusted counselor Myrddin -- the warrior, bard, and kingmaker whom legend will name Merlin -- is himself to be tested on a mystical journey through his own extraordinary past. So Arthur must stand alone against a great and terrible adversary. For only thus can he truly win immortality -- and the name he will treasure above all others: Pendragon.

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In the Shadow of the Oak King

By Courtway Jones

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A new variation on the Arthurian tale, this version invents a new, older half-brother for Arthur and a brutal, tribal Britain as a setting. Jones's details of life and culture reflect his interest in anthropology and give the novel vivacity. Pelleas, a bastard of Uther's and intended for sacrifice to the Oak King, god of the druids, is saved by Myrddin and survives to help raise his younger half-brother.
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