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King Arthur

Depending on how you first encountered him, you probably think of King Arthur either as a wild warpainted barbarian stealing horses, or as a refined knight in armor espousing chivalry and courtly love. If we're going strictly historical, it's likely the real man (if he existed) was closer to the first image, though he may have been more enlightened than his fellow clansmen.

He definitely wasn't the half-wild, half-Romanized dual-sword-wielding postmodern Pelagian disciple represented by Clive Owen in the 2004 film King Arthur. Pelagius and King Arthur would never have met, and the timeline's all wrong. Neither Arthur nor his knights (whether Celtic brigands or armored Normans) would have used Far Eastern or modern fighting techniques.

Geoffrey of Monmouth is generally accepted (or accused) as the codifier of the Arthur legends and the author of the first written account. It's hard to make a historical case for Arthur from his History of the Kings of Britain, however, because he includes weird stuff like two dragons asleep beneath England, a prophet named Merlin who sees the future, and Arthur's conquest of all Europe.

Old Geoff inspired the Arthurian romance writers like Sir Thomas Malory, Chretien de Troyes, and Wolfram von Eschenbach. They fit the wild, fierce Arthur of Geoffrey and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight into the courtly love context, emphasizing the relationship of Guinevere and Lancelot, the Round Table, and Arthur's purity.

Modern writers took the myth in a different direction. Indirectly prompted by deconstructionism, authors explored the "historical" Arthur, the crazy bearded axe-bearing petty Western chieftain who swooped out of Wales to wreak havoc on his neighbors and unite Britain temporarily. Some of them made it a funny story—notably T.H. White in his brilliant The Once and Future King.

There's also the King-Arthur-as-modern-social-commentary version made famous by Mark Twain. He combines the knights in shining armor, untutored Celt, and bust-your-gut-hilarious versions to point out the hypocrisy and sometimes outright idiocy of Medieval society. If he deliberately misinterprets Arthurian British culture for the sake of his narrative, he's forgiven: A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court is one of the funniest and most poignant books ever written.

In a sense, all these are correct visions of Arthur. He exists as myth, and that is his legacy to literature and history. Medieval writers Christianized the story, making Arthur a Christ-type destined to deliver his people in their hour of darkest need. This is his ultimate place, the legendary folk hero representing everything to be admired in his culture of origin.

Whichever King Arthur you prefer, whether the knight in shining armor, the Monty Python doofus, or the pagan warlord in skins, we offer the books you want. We also carry texts interpreting Arthur, looking for the historical figure, and claiming no such historical figure exists. The legend of King Arthur remains one of the greatest stories of all time, and we hope you'll spend at least as much time reading them for the sheer joy of it as you will delving into their historical background.

Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur.Read more of his reviews here.

 

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75 Items found Print
Adventures of King Arthur - Coloring Book
by Arkady Roytman
from Dover Publications
for 2nd-6th grade
in Literary & Fantasy Coloring Books (Location: A02-02)
Adventures of Sir Balin the Ill-Fated
The Knights' Tales
by Gerald Morris
from HMH Books for Young Readers
for 4th-6th grade
in Fantasy Fiction (Location: A07-02A)
$5.99
Adventures of Sir Gawain the True
The Knights' Tales
by Gerald Morris
from HMH Books for Young Readers
for 4th-6th grade
in Fantasy Fiction (Location: A07-02A)
$5.99
Adventures of Sir Givret the Short
The Knights' Tales Book 2
by Gerald Morris
from Sandpiper Books
for 5th-8th grade
in Fantasy Fiction (Location: A07-02A)
$8.95
Adventures of Tom Thumb
by Charlotte Craft
First Edition from HarperCollins
for Nursery-2nd grade
$5.60 (1 in stock)
Arthur
Pendragon Cycle #3
by Stephen R. Lawhead
from HarperCollins
Celtic Fantasy for 10th-Adult
in 20th & 21st Century Literature (Location: CLT-20C)
$7.99
Arthur
by Stephen R. Lawhead
from Crossway Books
for 10th-Adult
in 20th & 21st Century Literature (Location: CLT-20C)
$4.50 (1 in stock)
Arthurian Romances
by Chr├ętien de Troyes
from Penguin Classics
for 10th-Adult
$3.00 (1 in stock)
Avalon
by Stephen R. Lawhead
from HarperCollins
for 10th-Adult
in 20th & 21st Century Literature (Location: CLT-20C)
Avalon
by Stephen R. Lawhead
1st edition from HarperCollins
for 10th-Adult
in 20th & 21st Century Literature (Location: CLT-20C)
$10.00 (1 in stock)
Ballad of Sir Dinadan
Squire's Tales Book 5
by Gerald Morris
Reprint from Sandpiper Books
for 5th-8th grade
in Fantasy Fiction (Location: A07-02A)
$15.95
Ballad of Sir Dinadan
by Gerald Morris
from HMH Books for Young Readers
for 4th-8th grade
$4.00 (1 in stock)
Black Horses for the King
by Anne McCaffrey
from Magic Carpey Books
for 5th-9th grade
in Fantasy Fiction (Location: A07-02A)
$6.95 $4.50 (1 in stock)
Camelot
by Jane Yolen
First Edition from Philomel Books
for 6th-9th grade
in Fantasy Fiction (Location: A07-02A)
$5.00 (1 in stock)
Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
Penguin Classics
by Mark Twain
from Penguin Classics
Social Satire/Comedy for 8th-10th grade
in 19th Century Literature (Location: CLT-19C)
$10.00
Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
Signet Classics
by Mark Twain
from Signet Classics
Social Satire/Humor for 8th-10th grade
in 19th Century Literature (Location: CLT-19C)
$4.95
Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
by Mark Twain
from Reader's Digest
Social Satire/Comedy for 9th-Adult
in 19th Century Literature (Location: CLT-19C)
$8.00 (1 in stock)
Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
by Mark Twain
from International Collectors Library
Social Satire/Comedy for 8th-10th grade
in 19th Century Literature (Location: CLT-19C)
$6.00 (1 in stock)
Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
by Mark Twain
from Nelson Doubleday, Inc.
Social Satire/Comedy for 8th-10th grade
$2.00 (1 in stock)
Fall of Arthur
by J. R. R. Tolkien
from Houghton Mifflin
for 10th-Adult
in 20th & 21st Century Literature (Location: CLT-20C)
$22.50
Grail
Pendragon Cycle #5
by Stephen R. Lawhead
from HarperCollins
Celtic Fantasy for 8th-12th Grade
in 20th & 21st Century Literature (Location: CLT-20C)
$7.99
Heroes Every Child Should Know
by H. W. Mabie
from Yesterday's Classics
Biography for 5th-8th grade
in Yesterday's Classics (Location: A11-02C)
$13.95 $9.50 (1 in stock)
Heroes Every Child Should Know
Every Child Should Know
by H. W. Mabie
from Grosset & Dunlap
Biography for 5th-8th grade
in Yesterday's Classics (Location: A11-02C)
$6.00 (1 in stock)
History of the Kings of Britain
Penguin Classics
by Geoffrey of Monmouth
from Penguin Putnam
Historical Fairy Tale for 10th-12th grade
in Medieval Literature (Location: CLT-MED)
$18.00 $10.00 (1 in stock)
Howard Pyle King Arthur Series
by Howard Pyle
from Dover Publications
Fairy Tales, Fables, and Legends for 7th-10th grade
in Adventure Stories (Location: A04-01A)
$45.74
King Arthur
by Andrew Lang
from Dover Publications
for 4th-8th grade
$4.50 $3.00 (1 in stock)
King Arthur and His Knights
by Maude Redford Warren
2nd edition from Yesterday's Classics
Arthurian Legends and Myths for
in Yesterday's Classics (Location: A11-02C)
$9.95
King Arthur and His Knights
Junior Deluxe Editions
by Henry Frith
from Nelson Doubleday, Inc.
Fairy Tales, Fables, & Legends for 7th-10th grade
in Adventure Stories (Location: A04-01A)
$5.00 (2 in stock)
King Arthur and His Knights
by Sir James Knowles
De Luxe from Children's Classics
for 5th-10th grade
in Adventure Stories (Location: A04-01A)
$12.00 (2 in stock)
King Arthur and His Knights
World Landmark #5
by Mabel Louise Robinson
from Random House
for 5th-9th grade
in World Landmark Books (Location: A10-04D)
King Arthur and His Knights
by Thomas Malory
from Oxford University
for 10th-Adult
$3.00 (1 in stock)
King Arthur and His Knights
by Elizabeth Lodor Merchant
from John C. Winston
for 3rd-6th grade
$2.00 (1 in stock)
King Arthur and His Knights
by Sir James Knowles
1st edition from Children's Classics
for 5th-10th grade
in Adventure Stories (Location: A04-01A)
$4.50 (1 in stock)
King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table
Everyman's Library Children's Classics
by Roger Green
from Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.
Fairy Tales, Fables, and Legends for 7th-10th grade
in Adventure Stories (Location: A04-01A)
$15.00 $12.00 (1 in stock)
King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table
Puffin Classics
by Roger Green
from Puffin Books
Fairy Tales, Fables, and Legends for 6th-10th grade
in Adventure Stories (Location: A04-01A)
$5.99
King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table
by Sidney Lanier
from Grosset & Dunlap
for 3rd-6th grade
in Adventure Stories (Location: A04-01A)
$4.50 (1 in stock)
Legend of the King
Squire's Tales Book 10
by Gerald Morris
1st edition from Houghton Mifflin
for 5th-8th grade
in Fantasy Fiction (Location: A07-02A)
$16.99
Lioness and Her Knight
Squire's Tales Book 7
by Gerald Morris
from Houghton Mifflin
for 5th-8th grade
in Fantasy Fiction (Location: A07-02A)
$6.99
Merlin
Pendragon Cycle #2
by Stephen R. Lawhead
from HarperCollins
Celtic Fantasy for 8th-12th Grade
in 20th & 21st Century Literature (Location: CLT-20C)
$7.99
Merlin and the Making of the King
by Margaret Hodges
4th Edition from Holiday House
for 4th-6th grade
in Adventure Stories (Location: A04-01A)
$12.00 (1 in stock)
Once and Future King
by T. H. White
from ACE Publishing
for 7th-Adult
in 20th & 21st Century Literature (Location: CLT-20C)
$9.99
Parsifal's Page
Squire's Tales Book 4
by Gerald Morris
from Houghton Mifflin
for 5th-8th grade
in Fantasy Fiction (Location: A07-02A)
$6.99 $4.50 (1 in stock)
Parzival
by Wolfram Von Eschenbach
Reprint from Penguin Classics
for 10th-Adult
$2.00 (1 in stock)
Pendragon
Pendragon Cycle #4
by Stephen R. Lawhead
from HarperCollins
Celtic Fantasy for 8th-12th Grade
in 20th & 21st Century Literature (Location: CLT-20C)
$7.99
Pendragon Cycle set
by Stephen R. Lawhead
from HarperCollins
for 10th-Adult
in Fantasy Fiction (Location: A07-02A)
$31.95
Phonics Museum Reader #21
by Ned Bustard
from Veritas Press
for Kindergarten-2nd grade
in Veritas Press Phonics Museum (Location: B09-04B)
$3.00 $2.00 (3 in stock)
Princess, the Crone, and the Dung-Cart Knight
Squire's Tales Book 6
by Gerald Morris
from Houghton Mifflin
for 5th-8th grade
in Fantasy Fiction (Location: A07-02A)
$6.99
Quest of the Fair Unknown
Squire's Tales Book 8
by Gerald Morris
from Houghton Mifflin
for 5th-8th grade
in Fantasy Fiction (Location: A07-02A)
$7.99
Romance of King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table
by Sir Thomas Mallory
from Weathervane Books
for 7th-12th grade
in Adventure Stories (Location: A04-01A)
$7.50 (1 in stock)
Romance of Tristan and Iseult
by Hilaire Belloc
from Dover Publications
for 10th-Adult
in Medieval Literature (Location: CLT-MED)
$5.95
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