The Great Book of King Arthur: And His Knights of the Round Table

Harper Design: HarperCollins. Jun. 2022. 512p. ISBN 9780063243125. $32.50. LIT
Matthews (The Complete King Arthur) has taken on a great task: a compilation of various Arthurian tales into a single, coherent narrative for 21st-century readers. Matthews provides a context for the narrative, discussing the famous 15th-century version by Thomas Malory. He goes even further, including tales less told such as the earlier Celtic tale “Story of the Crop-Eared Dog.” The chapter title pages are set in text reminiscent of an illuminated manuscript. The prose, though evoking the English of old, is written for modern readers and in certain passages, turns to poetic meter. Matthews sprinkles footnotes throughout for reference. The full-color, full-page painted plates by Howe show characters in portrait as well as mythical beasts and quest scenes. This book is helpful at different levels. Those familiar with Arthurian legend will find old versions of the tales, while those new to Arthur will have a well-rounded book that provides a succinct narrative.
VERDICT Valuable to those interested in literary history or medieval history, as well as for those who just want to read a great, age-old tale.
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