Tag Archives: romance

The Romance of King Arthur


This is the copy I read as a kid. The publication date on this is 1977 – so, buying it secondhand, I was probably 12 or 13.

Ah, Arthur. Who was he? Did he really exist? Was he a resistance fighter, or a true king? Or were the tales really stories of a “Cave” Arthur, a legendary leader that predates history? I don’t care, actually. I just love the tales and all their glorious retellings. My first introduction to Arthurian legend was through the novel The Once and Future King by T.H. White, like so many other readers. I read this wonderful account of King Arthur when I was a young teen, reading an ancient paperback that threatened to lose its cover before I finished it.


If you enjoy Arthurian legend, you must read the source material in Geoffrey of Monmouth’s chronicle.

At university, I explored Arthurian tales in my classes, reading Chretien de Troyes’ romances, and the histories of the Venerable Bede and Geoffrey of Monmouth. After graduating, my mind was blown by the brilliant reimagining of Arthur through Morgan le Fay’s POV as told by Marian Zimmer Bradley in The Mists of Avalon. That novel gets a place of honor on my permanent bookshelf in the sky.

3104570Then Bernard Cornwell’s novels (The Warlord Chronicles) appeared on the scene, and I was once again amazed at the way another author could take these legends, put them in a blender, and come out with a completely different atmosphere, making different thematic choices and focusing on different pieces of the legend. I thought it couldn’t get any more interesting than Bradley’s amazingly powerful Arthurian women, but Cornwell’s dirty, gritty stories just as powerful, and you can smell the manure – and the magic.


I just enjoyed reading The Seeing Stone by Kevin Crossley-Holland, an Arthurian interpretation for a young adult audience. Crossley-Holland sets his tale in 1199, on a lord’s estate close to the English-Welsh border. The narrator of the tale, Arthur, is the second son of Sir John. He’s thirteen, not very good at tilting or swordsmanship, but has a gift with words. Merlin, a mysterious man who resides on the estate, gives Arthur a stone of obsidian, and cautions him to never mention it to anyone. Arthur discovers that this stone gives him visions, where he sees another thirteen year old boy named Arthur, whose story strangely echoes his.

The story was very well told. Crossley-Holland takes the Arthur of legend up to the momentous sword in the stone moment, leaving room for a few more novels which I think I may have to read. My only complaint about the novel is that Crossley-Holland’s chapters are so short – at the most 3 pages – that the narrative feels choppy and jumpy. I wish he had taken the time to extend some of the chapters, exploring the emotions in a deeper fashion.

I think the book I need to add to my book bank is Thomas  Malory’s Morte D’Arthur, but I’d love some additional suggestions. Are you a reader of Arthurian fiction? What would be on your Arthurian reading list?

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Filed under Book Review, Book Series, Children's Literature, Fiction

Betrayed by MZB

61893This past week I unearthed three Marion Zimmer Bradley paperbacks that I vaguely recalled reading about ten years ago. Since I hadn’t picked them up in a very long time, I decided to reread them and decide whether they should stay in my personal library or be passed on. After picking up title #1, Ghostlight (Light, #1), and reading about 75 pages, my new debate is whether or not I should recycle them or burn them.

I guess burning them is too harsh for a novel that just simply isn’t my taste. And it surprised me that this novel was so far off from my taste. I mean, Marion Zimmer Bradley? The MZB who created the glorious world of The Mists of Avalon? The author renowned for her strong female characters, who created the Sword and Sorceress anthology series that celebrates the heroine? How in the world was this novel a MZB book?  Ghostlight reads like an old fashioned romance. For example:

His gaze rested on her with obvious male approval, and Truth felt the heat rise in her cheeks again. What was it about the master of Shadow’s Gate that flustered her so? This wasn’t at all like her; she was always so cool and self possessed, a creature of the mind, ruled by the mind and wary of emotional entrapment. No flighty Gothic heroine she! (Ghostlight, p 76)

Oh, please, just stop. And then this, later in the book:

The girl wore tiny, square, wire-rimmed glasses with pink lenses, and a peace symbol flashed among the love beads around her neck. Across a quarter of a century she smiled into the lens of an unknown photographer, her hand raised in a “V” sign. A peace sign, Truth remembered, dredging up the fact from some well of antique trivia. (Ghostlight, p 110)

What was that? Did the author just explain the peace sign, a sign completely universal and so ubiquitous?


After reading that, I tried to understand what led me to purchase this book – and 2 of its sequels. The cover of my book (at the top)doesn’t scream quivery, shuddering neo-Gothic romance. And it has the name of an author I really enjoy, in big embossed letters at the top. So when did MZB write this, I wondered. And there, on the copyright page, was the answer to all my questions. The copyright of this particular novel is not held by MZB, or even her estate. The copyright is held by another author, Rosemary Edghill – who happens to have a number of gothic romances in her bibliography.

After doing some basic reading on Marion Zimmer Bradley and Rosemary Edghill, it seems that a number of novels originally ascribed to MZB had their copyrights reassigned after her death. Bradley had been quite ill for many years, and shared the task of writing with several coauthors. Unfortunately, I was not astute enough to realize this before reading Ghostlight.

My only consolation is that anyone who chooses their reading material based on cover art won’t be misled – the current cover art for Ghostlight is very nicely gothic.


And in the interest of recycling books, I have 3 books to give away to a reader of this blog that posts a comment below. If I have more than one comment, I’ll pick names from a hat. And – you guessed it, these books are NOT by Marion Zimmer Bradley, they are by Rosemary Edghill. Ghostlight, Heartlight, and Gravelight could be yours! These books are all paperbacks, in good condition. Please post your comment by March 28, 2013.


Filed under Author feature, Book Giveaway