An immortal story of chivalry, treachery and death told anew for our times
The legend of King Arthur has retained its appeal and popularity through the ages: Mordred's treason, the knightly exploits of Tristan, Lancelot's fatally divided loyalties and his love for Guenevere, the quest for the Holy Grail. Now retold by Peter Ackroyd with his signature clarity, charm and relish for a good story, the result is not only one of the most readable accounts of the knights of the Round Table but also one of the most moving.
Having successfully reworked Chaucer's Canterbury Tales for modern audiences, British editor, novelist, and critic Ackroyd (Dickens: Public Life and Private Passion) turns his talents to Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur, transforming the 15th-century compilation of Arthurian medieval romances into an eminently readable narrative. Rather than precisely translating Malory's Middle English, Ackroyd renders the original's tone and spirit in modern prose. Readers will recognize Arthur and Galahad, Lancelot and Guinevere, Tristram and Isolde, Merlin, Mordred, and Morgan LeFay, the Sword in the Stone and the Lady of the Lake portrayed with all their pride, self-doubt, flaws, and frustrations. We see knights caught in a medieval catch-22, trying to abide by a code of chivalry that was difficult even in that era. Their adventures produce enough dastardly villains, doomed loves, magic spells, and heroic deeds to equal the most imaginative contemporary fiction, while relations between the knights and the ladies they rescue, ravish, revere, revenge, or reject yield a surprising range of emotions and complications. Though scholars might prefer a more exact version of Malory's work, most readers will welcome Ackroyd's straightforward storytelling and this celebration of Britain's literary and cultural traditions.