Thursday, February 20, 2014

On King Arthur

Whoa there.  Big topic.  BIG TOPIC.  I mean, King Arthur.  This in-all-probability-fictional-and/or-mythologized King of the Britons ("The who?") appears in loads of books.  Tons of them, probably literally so.  And here I am, a wee librarian and sub-par blogger, writing about Arthur.

Well, ha HA!  I am not writing about King Arthur.  I'm writing about Gerald Morris writing about King Arthur, which is much better than nattering on about the historicity of Merrie Olde Artie. 

If you haven't read any of Morris' titles in The Squire's Tales series, drop what you're doing (unless it's a baby or a glass of wine) and go find one.  They're utterly genius.  Morris takes Arthurian legend, prunes away all the flowery-language bits, and uses the root of the story to build a book.  The reason I don't like the original King Arthur stuff is that it's so serious and Hamletian.  I mean, everybody pretty much gets a rotten ending.  Here I could make a remark about something being rotten in Camelot, but I ... oh, I just did.  Sorry.  Can't help it.

On top of the Arthurian root, Morris grafts on interesting characters, fae, a lot of humor, and a lot of sense.  Characters realize the ridiculousness of their situations.  The love affairs discussed in the original Mallory are present, but not in a way that would offend parents.  It's mostly a mockery of the bad decisions these people made in being unfaithful.

Morris also does absolutely fantastic female characters.  Lynet and Sarah are two of my favorites.  They kick serious butt.  Sarah's line at the end of her book, The Princess, The Crone, and the Dung-Cart Knight, is pretty amazing: "I am my own d*mn princess."
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I just finished book seven, The Lioness and Her Knight, featuring Lynet's spunky daughter, her cousin, and a fool.  Luneta, the main female character has a tendency to meddle in other people's affairs, feeling that she has a knack for doing so.  You might have guessed that she causes a bit more trouble than she thinks she does.  She also fights with her mom constantly, considering her boring, old, and out of the loop.  So she's like pretty much any teenage girl ever.  Luneta gets to go visit a family friend--but this being Arthur tales, of course there's lots of questing involved.  One of her traveling companions, the fool Rhience, is completely hysterical and his jesting is of the first order.

Overall, highly, highly recommended.

2 comments:

  1. This series still does very well in my school library. I keep hoping that Morris will write something else.

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    1. I do too! He has such a great command of the stories he's retelling, plus his balance of humor and heroism is pitch-perfect.
      I recommend these so often that I'm usually disappointed when I go to the shelf to grab one--they're all gone!

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