LeMorte d’Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory
A rendition in modern idiom by Keith Baines
The Old French translation of the title would be The Death of Arthur.
I’m a fan of Arthurian legend, which is precisely what urged me to give this book a shot. Apparently, the original was more than double the size of this already five-hundred plus page “abridged” version.
Honestly, I would have rather read the whole thing. This one is choppy, supposedly not spending any futile efforts on superfluous details. As I read, however, I felt the need for some unnecessary features.
The book is extremely hard to follow, and I had to write out several family trees in order to keep up. For instance, King Uther Pendragon (awesome name) stole away the wife of the Duke of Tintagril, and the new couple begot Arthur from deceit. But it is Sir Ector who raises Arthur and naturally fathers Sir Kay, a common character throughout, the “brother” of Arthur.
Aside from Jesus, we are led to believe that Arthur is the greatest to ever walk the Earth until he isn’t… because Lancelot is present. Then, Lancelot becomes the most admirable man in the history of life after Christ… until he isn’t. Because he takes Arthur’s beloved Gwynevere.
Galahad, Lancelot’s illegitimate son, is the only one who maintains his righteousness throughout. He is one of the three who partake in the quest for the Holy Grail.
The stories move in and out, but the reader must remember that Sir Thomas did not create Arthurian legend; he only recorded a mythology in the best way that he thought he could. And in prison, historians tell us.
I read this book several years ago, and I did not fold pages at that time. I will have to read it again one day and be sure to mark some key points. If King Arthur intrigues you, though, it is worth the read.
Who exactly is Merlin? Is the sword in the stone the true Excalibur? Who chooses the Knights of the Round Table? And why is there always a jousting tournament!?
One fun little connection before I go: Before we had our second son, my wife and I were trying to pick a middle name. Arguments ensued. We wanted a three or four syllable name to flow with the first and last names. You get it.
My wife, Anna, thought I was joking when I suggested Excalibur. I was not joking, but no amount of assertion on my part would budge her from her stance. Therefore, I was inclined to oblige her wishes.
I opened this book well before our second-born was conceived. To tie it all together, the very first page, written, no doubt, by Keith Baines rather than Sir Thomas, lie two words:
“Grow Your Mind, Keep Your Mind, Read A Book!“