Friday, June 24, 2011

Book Review Friday -- Arthur of Albion

I have mentioned before, I am entranced by the King Arthur and Merlin legends, so when I had a chance to request Arthur of Albion and received it from Sacramento Book Review for review, I was delighted.  I got hooked on the Merlin legend when I read T. A. Barron's series The Lost Years of Merlin.  This led to reading Mary Stewart's wonderful Merlin Trilogy that starts with The Crystal Cave.  My husband and I both enjoyed that one and then had to track down The Hollow Hills and The Last Enchantment.  Mary Stewart is a writer who completely immerses a reader in the worlds she creats.  And she, of course, while telling the legendary world of Arthur through Merlin's eyes, hooked me once again on King Arthur.  (I was earlier captivated by the movie in the 70’s, Excalibur.)

So, as I say, when I saw Arthur of Albion listed in books to choose for review, I got my dibs in, and I wasn't disappointed.  John Matthews is an expert on the Arthurian legends, and he tells ten of the main ones here in this lovely collection.  If you get a chance (and if you are smitten with the Arthurian world as I am) get a copy of this book for your own private libary.  And visit Sacramento Book Review for more interesting reviews by various reviewers.

What about you?  Are you hooked on a particular theme or series in literature?

To the review, then:

Arthur of Albion

By John Matthews
Barefoot Books,$12.99,136 pages

This beautifully illustrated book retells the stories of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table.  Written by John Matthews, a leading expert on Arthurian history, it covers ten key tales from the rise to the fall of Arthur’s Camelot.

“Gawain woke to the noise of dogs and hunting horns. The warmth of his bed only reminded him more keenly of the ordeal that lay ahead of him. For as surely as the Green Knight had risen living from the blow of the axe, Gawain knew he could do no such thing.”
In the first tale, Arthur discovers he can pull the strange sword Merlin planted in stone, thus proving he is true King of Albion. In the last tale, his nephew, Mordred, stirs up rumors about Lancelot and Guinevere that cause internal war and the destruction of Camelot.  Wounded, Arthur is taken for healing to the mysterious Avalon, from which, it is said, he will one day return, bringing light again to a dark world.
Between these two tales, young readers encounter the Questing Beast, Arthur’s magical sword, Excalibur, and a mystical shining cup considered the Holy Grail.  Merlin casts spells.  Knights go adventuring.  Damsels die for love.  Honor and valor go hand in hand.  Witchy Queen Morgause, Arthur’s half-sister, schemes with Mordred for Arthur’s defeat.

Tatarnikov’s muted illustrations are reminiscent of fine old tapestries, depicting a world long vanished. Matthews’ lyrical storytelling creates an intriguing introduction for young people to a legend that never dies.


Rosi said...

I, too, loved the Mary Stewart books. If I ever have time, I would like to read them again. My grandson loves Greek mythology, and I've often felt he would love the Arthurian myths as well. Now you have given me the perfect vehicle to introduce him to those wonderful stories. Thanks!

Rachna Chhabria said...

Arthur of Albion sounds good. I would love to read about mythology.

Regarding your previous post..thanks for passing me the award. You are a sweetie. I am honoured that you thought of passing the award to me.

Michelle Fayard said...

Your question about themes and series will prompt me to write a mini-novel, Mitty. :) I'm hooked on several of both, although they're not necessarily all YAs.

Lilian Jackson Braun's Cat Who ... books, especially her earlier ones, are whodunits that feature two cats and their human, a former news reporter with a nose for turning up murder. I never tire of rereading Dorthy Gilman's Mrs. Pollifax mysteries, while and Kay Hooper's psychic murder mysteries featuring Bishop's Special Crimes Unit never fail to intrigue me intellectually and cosmically.

I love the philosophical aspects of Dan Brown's books and the humor of Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series. Fannie Flagg's Southern-themed books are another delight for me, while I love Barry Hughart's Bridge of Birds and the two sequels for their combination of sly wit, mysticism, history and mystery.

I reread C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia and Madeleine L'Engle's Time trilogy almost every year like clockwork for their philosophy and Laura Ingalls Wildler's Little House books to experience another time and to gain strength and courage.

Thank you for asking!


Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Rosi, I loved Greek Mythology when I was a teen. Arthur was a discovery later in life. I think your grandson would like this.

Rachna, I passed both awards to you, not just one. Looking forward to what your 7 random facts will be.

Michelle, wow, I got some good book lists from your reply. Ah, yes, Madelein L'Engle, she's wonderful. I underline things in her books, they're so meaningful. And The Little House series was a good read again and again when I was growing up. I'll have to go check it out yet again!

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Michelle, if you like series, you might like The Molly Murphy mystery series by Rhys Bowen. They're light, but fun, based in New York around 1903-1904.

Kimberly said...

Ooh, I like the book cover too. The stories sound interesting.

Alleged Author said...

I lurve the cover of that Hollow Hills novel. I've never been too much into fantasy, but these novels sound pretty good. My sister adores fantasy, so now I must ring her to find out if she has these novels!

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hello, Kimberly and "Alleged". Yes the book cover us beautiful. The artist must have loved the opportunity to do the art for this book. All of the illustrations are dreamy and magical.

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