First, a French knight named Lancelot shows up in Camelot. He's more into fancy clothes, fancy jousts—and Queen Guinevere—than upholding his oaths as a knight. Then a mysterious green knight appears at the New Year's feast with a challenge. Strike him a blow on the neck today, and he gets to return it in a year. Sir Gawain cuts the knight's head off, only to find that the green man springs back to life. Gawain is doomed to die, so he and his squire Terence set off on a quest to make the most of his last year.
Morris is to be commended for his handling of the affair of Lancelot and Guinevere. He doesn't romanticize or gloss over it. Instead he very simply shows us the other side of the story—what it felt like from Arthur's point of view, and how much pain it caused. He and his characters blatantly decry the glorification of adultery that typifies courtly love stories.
So prepare to put aside all your preconceived ideas about Arthurian legend. Nothing is safe or sacred in Gerald Morris' stories, with the possible exception of King Arthur himself. The result is an excellent and entertaining look at the stories of the Round Table, stripped of the abject romanticism (and highbrow language) of most serious retellings.
Review by Lauren Shearer
Lauren Shearer writes words for fun and profit. She also makes films, but everyone knows you can't make a profit doing that. Her other hobby is consistently volunteering way too much of her time. You can read more of her reviews here
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