List of Arthurian HF

svalbard

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I thought I would put this together to be added to by others if they so wish.

Helen Hollick

The Kingmaking
Pendragon's Banner
Shadow of the King

Rating 4.5 stars

Bernard Cornwell

The Winter King
Enemy of God
Excalibur

Rating 5 stars

Catherine Christian

The Pendragon. 3 stars

Parke Godwin

Firelord. 5 Stars

Rosemary Sutcliff

Sword at Sunset. 4 stars

Henry Treece

The Eagles Have Flown 4 stars

John Gloag

Artorius Rex. 3.5 stars

Jayne Vinney

The Bright Helmed One. 3 stars

Patrick McCormack

Albion. 5 stars

Jack Whyte

The Camulod Chronicles. 1 star.

Victor Canning

The Crimson Chalice
The Circle of the Gods
The Imortal Wound

Rating 3 stars.

Mary Stewart

The Crystal Cave
The Hollow Hills
The Last Enchantment
The Wicked Day

Rating 4 stars

Gillian Bradshaw

Down The Long Wind

Rating 5 Stars

The ratings are my own and I understand that Whyte's work is considered highly by many. I found it quite lacking in historical context, heavily padded and pretty boring for large parts.

The above also represent just a sample of my reading and excludes the Factual books of which there are far too many with most of them vering off into the fantastical.





 

svalbard

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I forgot to add that in. Read it years ago. He starts the series in Atlantis where the remnants of the Atlanteans settle Britain and become godlike figures. Merlin is of their race. A good story steeped in ancient Celtic Myth. 3-4 Stars.
 

svalbard

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Stephen Lawhead

Talisien
Merlin
Arthur

Rating 3.5 Stars

The writing has a mythic quality and as such lacks a certain urgency. Lawhead I believe gets caught between a realistic portrayal of the last days of Roman Britain and his heavy use of the more fantastic parts of the Arthurian Legend. This series would lend itself more to the Fantasy reader than a HF one. I much prefered his later material set in Byzantium and the Crusades series.
 

Verity

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Continuing the conversation from the Mary Renault thread, about the Crystal Cave - she gives the impression (to me, anyway) that Merlin's visions are similar to epileptic fits, though he sees true visions during them. However, if anyone comes across the BBC TV adaptation, I have to warn that it's very disappointing. They make Merlin into a con man rather than a genuine visionary, which is a real shame.
 

svalbard

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My impression from The Crystal Cave was that Merlin's visions were in part a curse to him. Which would fit in with an epileptic theory.
 

Andersson

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Bernard Cornwell

The Winter King
Enemy of God
Excalibur

Rating 5 stars

Mary Stewart

The Crystal Cave
The Hollow Hills
The Last Enchantment
The Wicked Day

Rating 4 stars
As I mentioned in the other thread Bernard Cornwell's trilogy is one of my favorite series and Mary Stewart's books are also very good so I agree with these ratings.

I would like to add the Avalon series by Marion Zimmer Bradley to the list, though I must admit I have not read all of it and I'm not sure how I would rate it. It's one of those long series that I keep thinking I'll return to but never do for some reason (Outlander by Gabaldon is another).

Avalon series by Marion Zimmer Bradley
http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/43545.The_Once_and_Future_King?from_search=true&search_version=service
Another series that seems very popular is The Once and Future King by T.H. White. However, on the two occasions I've tried to read it, most recently last month in fact, I given up after a few chapters. I simply find it too silly for my taste. I would dismiss it a children's book except I know it is highly regarded by many people for its literary merits. I would be interested in hearing other people's opinions on it.

The Once and Future King (The Once and Future King #1-4)
 

svalbard

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How could I forget The Once and Future King. A marvellous work of the imagination.
 

aThenian

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if anyone comes across the BBC TV adaptation
Is there an adaptation? I don't think the recent Merlin series by the BBC - if that's the one you mean - was supposed to be related to the Stewart books. Agree the little I saw of it seemed pretty daft!

I don't know much about epilepsy but agree with you about the visions, that they feel almost physical - or at least out of Merlin's control. There's also a mystical/spiritual dimension to them...Merlin thinks they are messages from his gods. Which makes them rather different from a magician using magic. (Renault also has visions in her books - which are otherwise not fantasies - which is why I saw a link between Renault and Stewart.)
 

Verity

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I'm not talking about the recent Merlin series, aThenian. In the 1980s, the BBC usually did a special children's series in the run up to Christmas. They did The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and The Box of Delights - and one year they did the Crystal Cave, with Robert Powell as Ambrosius and a young actor called George something, who doesn't seem to have done anything else after that, as Merlin.
Some of the scenes were spot on, word for word as the book, but others.... I was really looking forward to what they would do with the scene where Merlin leads the people who are building a tower that keeps falling down into the cavern underneath. In the book, he has a vision, and wakes up three days later feeling like death and wondering what happened. In the TV series, it was all a trick and some fast talking.
 

Toby Frost

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The Acts of King Arthur and his Noble Knights by John Steinbeck. I think it's excellent, but I suspect that it wouldn't be to a lot of people's tastes.
 

aThenian

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I'm not talking about the recent Merlin series, aThenian. In the 1980s, the BBC usually did a special children's series in the run up to Christmas. They did The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and The Box of Delights - and one year they did the Crystal Cave, with Robert Powell as Ambrosius and a young actor called George something, who doesn't seem to have done anything else after that, as Merlin.
Interesting! And apologies. A strange choice by them - it's definitely not a children's book. There's all that stuff about unknown parentage/illegitimacy, not to mention the druid/human sacrifice bit and Uther thinking Merlin might be Ambrosius's catamite...
 

MWagner

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Turns out I've read more Arthurian books than I'd thought. Especially considering I'm not especially an Arthurian buff. I've read:

The Cornwell series

The Firelord

The Sword at Sunset

Steinbeck's book

The Crystal Cave

The Mists of Avalon

The Once and Future King
 

hitmouse

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A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court Mark Twain
Over Sea Under Stone & sequels Susan Cooper
Le Morte d'Arthur Thomas Mallory
There's also quite a bit of Mediaeval Welsh verse about Arthur, or at least the protean character which would become Arthur. Old Welsh is a bit of a refined taste.
The Buried Giant Kazuo Ishiguro is probably about Arthur
 

Andersson

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The Acts of King Arthur and his Noble Knights by John Steinbeck. I think it's excellent, but I suspect that it wouldn't be to a lot of people's tastes.
I remember that I was going to check it out but then I read that Steinbeck never completed it which put me off it, I didn't want to read an unfinished book. How "complete" is it?

Interesting! And apologies. A strange choice by them - it's definitely not a children's book. There's all that stuff about unknown parentage/illegitimacy, not to mention the druid/human sacrifice bit and Uther thinking Merlin might be Ambrosius's catamite...
Is it really not a children's book (a really good one that can be enjoyed by people of all ages)? The writing is very good and I do think that there are some real nuances and depth to it, but the story and characters seems very childish to me. Granted, I only read a few chapters but the portrayals of Ector, Pellinor and Merlin were just so extremely silly that I couldn't get past that. Now, there's nothing wrong with silliness, I really enjoy P.G. Wodehouse for instance, but this book just didn't do it for me. Maybe it's because I already have a clear picture of these characters from other books that's very different from how they are shown in this one.
 

Toby Frost

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It’s incomplete in that it isn’t a full translation/rewrite of the whole Morte D’Arthur. However, it stops at what strikes me as an important point – the beginning of the end, really – and the episodic nature of the story, concentrating on different knights at different moments, means that it doesn’t feel as if Steinbeck has just thrown down the tools or (to quote that other important Arthurian adaptation) the animator had suffered a fatal heart attack. It is a book that some people will definitely like more than others. Steinbeck himself said that he didn’t want to imitate T.H. White, and I think it goes the other way to White’s version: Steinbeck’s book starts off quite formal and antiquated, and becomes more modern in style as it goes on.

I wrote some more thoughts about it here: The Acts of King Arthur and his Noble Knights by John Steinbeck
 

aThenian

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Is it really not a children's book (a really good one that can be enjoyed by people of all ages)? The writing is very good and I do think that there are some real nuances and depth to it, but the story and characters seems very childish to me. Granted, I only read a few chapters but the portrayals of Ector, Pellinor and Merlin were just so extremely silly that I couldn't get past that. Now, there's nothing wrong with silliness, I really enjoy P.G. Wodehouse for instance, but this book just didn't do it for me. Maybe it's because I already have a clear picture of these characters from other books that's very different from how they are shown in this one.
I was talking about Stewart's Merlin books - but I've got the feeling we're at cross purposes here and you are talking about The Sword in the Stone?
 

Andersson

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I was talking about Stewart's Merlin books - but I've got the feeling we're at cross purposes here and you are talking about The Sword in the Stone?
Yes, sorry about that. My comments were about T.H. White's The Once and Future King.
 

MWagner

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Yes, sorry about that. My comments were about T.H. White's The Once and Future King.
The Once and Future King is a peculiar work, in that the first part (the Sword in the Stone) is a children's story, but the saga develops into a nuanced and mature adult story. The Ill-Made Knight is about adultery and the disillusionment of adulthood, while the final book, the Candle in the Wind, is a dark and brooding tragedy. I know of no other work of narrative that has such an arc in tone and theme. IMHO, this arc - from light-hearted and witty children's story to doom-haunted adult tragedy - is what makes The Once and Future King such a classic.
 

Caledfwlch

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Stephen Lawhead

Talisien
Merlin
Arthur

Rating 3.5 Stars

The writing has a mythic quality and as such lacks a certain urgency. Lawhead I believe gets caught between a realistic portrayal of the last days of Roman Britain and his heavy use of the more fantastic parts of the Arthurian Legend. This series would lend itself more to the Fantasy reader than a HF one. I much prefered his later material set in Byzantium and the Crusades series.
I struggled badly with them, as whilst there were interesting ideas, the whole thing appeared to be an attempt to force shovel christian propaganda at any poor heretic trying to read them. kind of got a bit fed up with the whole "oh wow, look how amazing beautiful brilliant the Atlanteans are" stuff too.
 
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