Read King Arthur's Death by Unknown Brian Stone Online


A 13th-century French version of the Camelot legend, written by an unknown author. It depicts a Round Table diminished in strength after the Quest for the Holy Grail. Whispers of Queen Guinevere's infidelity distress King Arthur, leaving him no match for the machinations of Sir Mordred....

Title : King Arthur's Death
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780140444452
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 320 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

King Arthur's Death Reviews

  • David Sarkies
    2019-05-10 05:27

    Betrayal of a Legend19 December 2016 You certainly have to love the occasional lyric poetry, especially when it is about the end of everybody’s favourite legendary English king, Arthur Pendragon. Actually, I’m not sure if that is actually his last name, though it seems that this guy, and the legend that surrounds him, is much like Robin Hood – he may have existed, he may not have, but a huge legend has arisen around them while there doesn’t actually seem to be any consistency in these legends. In fact, this particular book contains two contrasting versions of his death, though the common feature is that he was killed by Mordred (though whether Mordred was his son or not is also up in the air because one of them suggests that he is, while the other suggests that he is just naughty lord). Anyway, these two poems contain literally everything, and it is no wonder that the story of Arthur has been picked up by so many authors and film makers, and the stories that come out of it are vastly different in nature. For instance there was a film from the eighties called Excalibur which focused much more on the fantasy elements, with Excalibur, Merlin, and a tragic end as he searched for the holy grail. Another version (named King Arthur), was set during the times when the Romans pulled out of England, and Arthur was basically a Knight from the other side of the empire and was fighting to stop the Picts from overrunning the England. There was also this book I remember called The Mists of Avalon, which I remember seeing as a kid, but never getting around to reading it, probably because upon looking at it I came to the conclusion that it was the thickest book ever written – in fact it was huge. Mind you, there are probably much, much thicker books these days, but that one still sits in my mind as being pretty thick. Oh, and we cannot forget to mention this all time classic. As I previously mentioned there are two versions of the story, both of them dealing with Arthur’s death, so there is no mention of Merlin, nor of the sword, nor of the Lady in the Lake (or the test to remove the sword from the stone). In fact both stories seem to eschew the fantasy elements and come across much more historical. Anyway, the first story deals with Arthur going on conquests across Europe and coming to blows with the Emperor of Rome. He eventually defeats the emperor, however discovers that back in England Mordred has taken the throne for himself. Mind you, after going to war with Rome, Arthur has actually lost a lot of men, but with the handful of men he does have he returns to England, confronts Mordred’s much larger army, and defeats Mordred while dying in the process. There are a couple of things that come out of this story, one of them being the plot where the King is abroad and the person keeping the throne warm decides to name himself as king. This is something that has happened a number of times in history, but the one event that comes to mind is that of Richard II (of which I have written two blog posts, the second being here). Mind you, I would hardly equate Arthur with Richard, particularly since if it wasn’t for Shakespeare’s play he would probably be little more than a footnote in history – Arthur is a legend. Mind you, it is noticeable that both die, because we can’t have Mordred defeating Arthur and giving us an evil laughter and riding off into the sunset. Mind you, even in Shakespeare’s tragedies the bad guy eventually gets it in the neck. In a way it seems as if you simply cannot have a situation where the bad guy wins, and the good guy simply cannot come back and eventually win the day – it is almost as if it is anathema in literature. The other thing is how Arthur pretty much conquers Europe. This is taken directly out of History of the Kings of Britain, and seems to attribute the barbarian invasions of Rome to being an invasion let by Arthur. Mind you, Monmouth puts Arthur around 700 AD, which is sometime after Rome collapsed, but it is interesting how we have no record of any legendary king carving out a huge empire in Europe. However, it should also be noted that this is one of those empires that exists only on the personality of a single man, and it appears that after his death the kingdom pretty much disintegrates. Another thing that I have noticed is that Bede seems to have a gap in his Ecclesiastical history right around the time Monmouth has Arthur appear. That’s not to say that I am suggesting Arthur existed because, other than Charlemagne, there doesn’t seem to be any evidence of a king establishing an Empire on the Continent, especially one where the throne was in England. Mind you, this whole thing reeks of nationalism, yet it is interesting that England did have an identity as far back as the 10th century. Monmouth also suggested that two English Kings were responsible for crossing the channel in around 400 bc, conquering Europe, crossing the Alps, and sacking Rome. Obviously what is happening here is a medieval version of ‘Fake News’, though it is probably better described as being ‘fake history’ (though the Romans seems to have a lot of problems with this fake history) – this is history that really has no substance to it, and no archaeological support. Mind you, writers of history back in those days really didn’t take the academic and scientific approach that we do today (though all history is still tainted by opinion), but rather wrote from the legends that were in vogue. The second story is pretty much the same (that is about how Arthur died), however it’s focus is more on the love affair between Lancelot and Guenevere. In fact, this affair could be considered one of the greatest affairs in literature (okay, there are probably others, but I really have no interest in stories about love affairs – I would call them forbidden love but it sounds so clichéd – still, something that you can’t have always seems much more desirable than something that you can). Whereas the first story has a lot more action and large scale battles, this one has a lot more intrigue where people are being killed, and then the murder is being covered up, and there is adultery, poisonings, duels, and finally King Arthur’s death. In a way this is an incredibly painful episode to watch because we all know how it is going to end – badly – especially since Lancelot is one of Arthur’s most trusted knights. However, this episode is set mostly in the court of Camelot, and doesn’t even have any mention of wars and expeditions to foreign lands. Actually, come to think of it there is always the story of David and Bathsheba in the Bible – that’s a pretty well known love affair, but I digress. Anyway, it seems as if the story of Arthur is a story of betrayal, with his wife and best friend having hanky panky behind his back, and Mordred going off and stealing his throne (and dying in the process). Anyway, before I finish off, I probably should end with this cartoon, especially considering the state of politics these days:

  • Jim
    2019-05-20 11:48

    The Death of King Arthur is a surprisingly modern version of the whole Matter of Britain cycle. Although it was written in the early 13th century, it dwells on the problems of kingship more than on the mythic elements of magicians, giants, witches, Holy Grails. Those elements it takes as a given rather than as a plot element of the story as it unfolds. Merlin is mentioned only once. The only mythic element in real time is when Excalibur is thrown into the lake, and a hand comes up from the water, grasps it, and takes it down.Lancelot is the real hero of the story. He is guilty as charged of adultery with the queen, Guinevere. Although Arthur is understandably upset and strikes back at his greatest knight, Lancelot in turn is still loyal to Arthur and saves his life once or twice, which makes Arthur think. There's something about being able to handle several contradictory ideas at one time which is very modern.Toward the end of the book, the anonymous author reveals that Lancelot's age is 55, Gawain is 76, and Arthur is 92. And Guinevere is in her 50s. Certainly not the picture I had in my mind!The Death of King Arthur is without a doubt the best of the Arthurian stories -- and there are many competing versions, ranging from Geoffrey of Monmouth to Wace to Layamon to Chretien de Troyes to the anonymous French authors and finally to Sir Thomas Mallory.

  • Yani
    2019-05-22 08:38

    ¡Ay! Dios, ¡si yo tuviera en mi compañía a aquellos que solía tener, no temería a todo el mundo si estuviera contra mí! Antes que nada, una pequeña advertencia: este es el final de uno de los ciclos (el más completo) de las historias artúricas y conviene leer los anteriores para tener una perspectiva más entera del mismo. Como sólo leí este, probablemente mucho de lo que diga tenga una objeción o alguna respuesta en las otras partes (ya sean de este mismo ciclo o libros aledaños), así que me atendré a comentar brevemente y con cuidado. Esto empieza cuando la búsqueda del Santo Grial ya terminó y Arturo y los caballeros se disponen a participar en un torneo, para no perder la costumbre de la batalla. Cuando se preparan para partir hacia Wincester, el lugar de la contienda, un sobrino de Arturo le advierte que Lanzarote (quien quería ir de incógnito al torneo) estaba frecuentando a la reina Ginebra otra vez y por eso prefería quedarse en el castillo. Así y todo, Arturo irá a Wincester. Esa situación de informantes maliciosos del rey (porque no todos lo hacen por fidelidad, sino por conveniencia), sospechas, intrigas y pasiones incontrolables guía todo el texto. Habrá unas cuantas traiciones, unas cuantas peleas típicas de caballería (muy bien descriptas, por cierto: parecían de película) y tramas que pueden sostenerse por sí solas, como la de la dama de Escalot. ¿Qué me gustó deLa muerte del rey Arturo ? La mística. Mientras leía se me venían a la mente las incontables versiones de la leyenda y no importa la variación o el formato (recordé, incluso, un dibujo animado centrado en los caballeros de la Mesa Redonda que veía cuando era niña): las aventuras de Arturo son únicas e involucran elementos tan asombrosos como, por ejemplo, el destino de la espada después de que él muere. Gracias al título, puedo decir eso libremente. Me gustaron personajes como Boores y Morgana que, dentro de la proliferación de nombres, fueron muy útiles a la trama y la mención a Tristán (deTristán e Iseo ), cuya historia guarda paralelos con esta.Lo que no me agradó y me hizo difícil la lectura es el estiramiento del engaño para que se descubra lo más tarde posible, al estilo de una telenovela. El mecanismo queda en evidencia y pierde la gracia. Además de eso, cada vez que se resuelve algún conflicto, inmediatamente surge otro (como un invasor o un caballero que se rebela, por ejemplo) que le da más cuerda. Eso provoca también que los personajes cambien súbitamente de ideas o de personalidad. Pasan muchísimas cosas y cuesta acordarse de todas ellas en detalle. Supongo que se subsana con una relectura, si es que se soporta su peso de nuevo. No es un libro malo y vale totalmente la pena, pero hay que tenerle paciencia a los giros inesperados. Lamentablemente, me causaron más cansancio que sorpresa.

  • Beth
    2019-05-23 08:49

    I was surprised to find this book on a reading list for medieval French literature. King Arthur belong to British folklore, no? As I did some digging, I found that the tales from Geoffrey of Monmouth’s The History of the Kings of Britain (which incidentally was written in Latin, not English) traveled the channel into French literature, to be taken up by writers such as Chrétien de Troyes. It was at this point that the warrior king reclaiming Britain from the barbarism of the Picts and the Scots succumbed to the pressures of the French courtly love tradition and became the tragic, somewhat weak-willed king of the later tales. It was the French who added characters such as Lancelot and elements such as the quest for the grail.This particular volume, written anonymously in the 13th century is significant because it is the first prose telling of the Arthurian tales. All previous versions had been in verse. This book covers only the fourth section of the story, beginning after the knights’ return from the quest for the grail. It serves as a sequel to other volumes written by Chrétien de Troyes. The tale itself was familiar to me, but nonetheless enjoyable. Tournaments, secrets, wounded knights, scorned lovers, fire, battles, and tragedy. I’ve never particularly cared for Lancelot as a character and prefer versions where Arthur is the hero of the story, as opposed to this one in which Lancelot takes the pedestal of heroism throughout. Overall I found it to be an engaging read, and particularly enjoyed the sections about the Lady of Shalott, the poem by Tennyson being one of my favorites. *****If you appreciated this review, check out my blog at

  • Nikki
    2019-05-08 05:45

    I don't like this as much as Simon Armitage's other Middle English translation, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. It's a more serious poem, I think, less playful and rich in language, but it's still pretty amazing. I can't speak for the quality of the translation right now, I haven't yet compared it with the Middle English -- I'm sure there have been liberties taken, but I think he gets across the tone of the original poem, at least. Sometimes his alliteration is a bit over the top, not quite obeying the rules; I'm not sure if the original poem is the same -- it might well be.It's fun to read, and easy to follow -- probably less scholarly than Brian Stone's translation, and probably all the more readable for that. Interesting how much it reminds me of The Song of Roland, particularly the part where Arthur grieves over Gawain's death...

  • Louise
    2019-05-24 11:52

    Crossposted/edited from my blogI’m going to start off with the disclaimer that I do not read a lot of poetry and don’t feel particularly comfortable analysing it.This makes me a bit of an uncultured idiot when it comes to trying to write a review, but I’m going to do my best. When I do read poetry – and I’m trying to do so more – my preference also lies very heavily towards old-fashioned narrative and epic poems that tell an interesting story. Since I find the King Arthur legend (or legends) one of the most interesting stories there are, buying this book when I spotted it in the shop was a complete no-brainer. I don’t know what a serious poetry fan or scholar would make of it but as a piece of Arthurian literature – especially as a piece of medieval and British Arthurian literature – I found it to be an unpolished gem of a book.The Death of King Arthur tells the story, with no magical frills or whistles, of Arthur’s last invasion of Europe and his return home to face – and eventually die at the hand of – the treacherous Sir Mordred. It’s a familiar story to almost everyone who’s read even a single children’s ‘life of King Arthur’ type book. What makes this version different, however, is that it does not follow the French Romantic tradition of having Lancelot and Guinevere’s adultery as the cause of Arthur’s downfall – in fact there’s no mention of any affair between them and Lancelot gets only a walk on part – instead it’s pure politcs and territorial war that takes Arthur out of Britain and gives Mordred the chance to seize power. As someone who finds Lancelot a rather dull (dare I say ‘Mary-Sue’) character who gets too much exposure at the expense of other knights, I really welcomed this angle. Once the sword’s pulled out of the stone Arthur often seems to fade into a background character – here he’s no doubt the main character with both moments of incredible military skill and high emotion.This ‘unromantic’ motivation also makes for an ‘unromantic’ poem that focusses not on the idea of courtly love and lofty ideas of ‘Albion’ but positively revels in the horror and brutality of medieval warfare. It’s gloriously unapologetically bloody and violent, to open a few pages purely at random gives me:"Then good Sir Gawain on his grey steed gripped a great spear and speedily spiked him; through the guts and gore his weapon glided till the sharpened steel sliced into his heart." "Then eagerly Arthur opened his enemy’s visor and buried the bright blade in his body to the handle and he squirmed as he died, skewered on the sword." "leaving wounded warriors writhing in his wake; he hacked at the hardiest and hewed them at the neck, and all ran red wherever he rode,"There are decapitations, guts spilling out of war wounds, people being impaled through the loins…you think of a nasty way to die and I can almost promise it’s there. Little-me would have loved this poem!Alas, I’m no longer little-me and I do demand a bit more character development and deeper storytelling to go with my macabre enjoyment of gruesome descriptions. After a promising non-Lancelot focussed start, the middle section gave way almost to a list of who was killed by who in what vividly described way. Most named only appear once or twice and with the exception of Arthur and Gawain (and perhaps Kay if I’m feeling generous) it’s very hard to feel anything for the knights on either side of the battles. I have to confess to several times being confused as to who was fighting who and why. It’s no Odyssey (or even Aeneid) that you could write an essay just on the psychology of a sidecharacter, and for a long time during the middle section I feared I was going to have to give this three stars, but it redeemed itself. Once news of Mordred’s treachery (and the implication of Guinevere’s as well in this story) reaches Arthur things get back on track. It’s still more endless guts and blood but the motivation – and the cost – is both more familiar and more relatable. Even the battles seemed to have new life breathed into them with a wonderful description of naval warfare sticking out especially. And once one of Arthur’s favourite knights is slain on the battlefield there is, in my eyes at least, a beautifully powerful depiction not just grief on Arthur’s part but guilt and shame from the murderer as well. It’s a tantalising hint of the author’s ability at portraying emotions that is, sadly, a little too set aside in favour of bloodshed for most of the poem.There are other glimpses prior to this – particularly in the second of the two prophetic dreams Arthur has (one of the very few ‘fantastical’ elements of the story) – where Arthur sees himself rise on the wheel of fortune only to be thrown off again. But it was his grief at seeing his friend’s body and the way he openly wept, threw himself on the corpse and had to be almost dragged away before his grief turned to anger and vengeance that struck me. That’s a more human and emotionally Arthur than I’m used to and it packed a punch that I wasn’t expecting after the rather scant emotional story of the rest of the poem.The rest of it is solid stuff, for what it is. The various wars take up the majority of the poem but there is one traditionally Arthurian type of adventure near the beginning where Arthur pauses his warplans to rescue a kidnapped damsel from a monstrous ogre-like figure who cuts off the beards of the knights he kills and turns them into what I can only imagine is the sexiest patchwork gown imaginable. Apart from that though it’s (more) blood, guts and simplistic and unsympathetic ‘he was rude to me, so I’m going to kill him’ from then on. I enjoyed it, and I’m happy to admit to loving the blood and guts, but it wasn’t until the last section that I felt emotionally invested in the story.As for its quality as a poem… I don’t know. I found it less well crafted than Armitage’s translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and I found myself stumbling over the words and puzzling to make out the rhythm more often – but I also know I’ve been cursed with the worst sense of rhythm (and tone) imaginable and it’s probably perfectly simple for anyone with half an ounce of musical talent. I like this alliterative style of poetry though, it’s one I find very accessable. How much of the language and alliterative bits I liked (or didn’t) is down to the original author and how much Armitage I couldn’t say, and wouldn’t like to guess at. Another translation may well be better – I don’t know, but I did enjoy this one.

  • Caidyn (BW Book Reviews; he/him/his)
    2019-05-25 09:50

    This review and others can be found on BW Book Reviews.This one, I had to read for analysis. My rough theme is that men’s honor rests on controlling women’s sexuality. Now, I won’t bore you further about my paper (especially since it’s not written yet and I haven’t even started weeding through my annotations). Even though I had to analyze it, it was still entertaining as hell.Mainly, it’s hilarious from a 21st-century standpoint. I hurt my stomach from laughing over it. All the knights seem to have superpowers in the play. Arrow through the thigh? Give him a week and he’ll be defending the queen. Almost died in a fight? Give him a few hours and he’ll be just like new. Get some of your skull knocked off? Eh, he’ll walk off the field.Another hilarious part is Arthur’s flat out denial of Lancelot and Guinevere’s affair. (For those not familiar with Arthurian legend, Guienevere is King Arthur’s wife. Lancelot is Arthur’s best knight who has an affair with Guienevere.) He had to be told, like 12 times, to believe it. Hell, he didn’t believe it even after he saw some art Lancelot made depicting the affair. I’m not joking. This is in the book. And don’t get me started on when Lancelot and Guienevere finally got caught. They locked a fucking wooden door and a bunch of knights, who have superpowers, could not knock it down. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so hard in my life.Final thoughts: A classic I implore you all to read, especially James Cable’s translation.Read for Europe in the High Middle Ages

  • Janez Hočevar
    2019-05-22 06:32

    This volume contains two accounts of the same topic: king Arthur's death and demise of the Round Table. Morte Arthure (around 1400) is an alliterative poem, focusing on Arthur's and the knights' of the Round Table war exploits against the Romans. What strikes me here, in this Arthurian poem, is the richness of the detail and explicit descriptions of the war (and anything connected with it). At the times, I couldn't help myself thinking I am watching a Die-Hard type movie, with blood and body parts flowing and flying everywhere. And of course, everything a good chivalrous romance needs, is also there: super-natural forces, divine help, treason, magic.....Love, however, is absent-it is mentioned only once, and that in an indirect way.The second poem is Le Morte Arthur-stanzaic (around 1350), which makes it very agreeable to read it out aloud (which I did). The subject is (almost the same as in the poem above), but it differs in that love plays a central role here (the liaison between Lancelot du Lake and queen Guinevere). As love is absent from the Morte Arthure, magic doesn't play any part in Le Morte Arthur.Both romances represent a fine exemple of English poetry. They draw on French sources, but do not follow them blindly. They are adapted to the circumsatnces of the 14th and 15th centuries (as is evident from the descriptions of battle techniques). The importance of these two romances is not its content, but in the influence they exerted on the last, and most beautiful English Arthurian romance, namely on the Le Morte d'Arthur by Thomas Malory.

  • Tyas
    2019-05-26 12:34

    Okay, so here's the thing:1) This review here may contain what you may consider spoilers. But since I think most people have known how the popular legends of King Arthur end anyway, I don't consider what I write as really spoilery.2) This was written centuries ago. So even if you have the (modern?) conviction that knights are brutal, fierce creatures, no need to ask why the knights portrayed using the high-medieval approach swoon half-to-death because their beloved ones passed away, or why men kiss each other's mouths etc. This book is the last part of the Vulgate Cycle, Arthurian legends as written by unknown author(s) that hid their identity behind one Walter Map. Which was impossible because Map has died before the first part of the cycle (the Lancelot prose) was written.What is amazing to me about this prose is how rich the characters are. Many of us tend to simplify the Arthurian legends as: 'Arthur, the king guided by Merlin, and his queen, Guinevere, who committed adulterous act with Lancelot' - an ordinary love-triangle and high fantasy story.But The Death of King Arthur of the Vulgate Cycle is none like that. The webs that tangle the characters are so complicated, and supernatural elements were largely kept out of it. I'd like to focus more on Gawain. Many modern adaptations tend to 'forget' or give less importance to this character, once so loved and held with high esteem by authors and readers alike, shifting the focus more on Mordred, since apparently we need to have a blatantly evil character, an archenemy, to hate or to explain and understand. But Gawain, and his other brothers besides Mordred, are important elements of the older myths. It was Gawain's wrath on the death of his brothers in the hands of Lancelot and his kin that drove him to push King Arthur to wage a war against Lancelot, thus leaving Camelot in the care of Mordred - who took the chance to usurp the throne and, at least he hoped to do so, Guinevere.Gawain loved his uncle, his brothers, and also Lancelot; even when his own brother Agravaine started to blow the news about Lancelot/Guinevere affair, he wouldn't have it; he believed in Lancelot so much that he begged his uncle not to pay heed to such vicious rumour. Even when he knew that the news was nothing but the truth.(You may disagree with Gawain here. What does 'being loyal to Arthur' here mean? Is it like what Agravaine believed, revealing Lancelot and Guinevere's adultery to the King? Or hiding them like Gawain and Gaheriet - also known as Gaheris - did?)But then came a chaotic event when Lancelot tried to rescue Guinevere from punishment. His cousins killed Agravaine and Gareth (Gawain's third younger brother), and Lancelot himself accidentally slay Gaheriet. This drove not only Gawain mad, but also Arthur, since he loved his nephews so much. Thus the war between Lancelot and Arthur began.(As for Lancelot, the medieval logic may once more escaped me, but I don't understand why he still thought that he hadn't wronged Arthur so much that he deserved the war, although he had slept with the queen. Somebody help explain this to me please.)All in all, this Vulgate version of the Death King of Arthur is a monumental reading for all Arthurian enthusiasts and scholars. And the translation made me enjoy the reading even more, so I recommend this version to readers.

  • Nikki
    2019-05-24 09:29

    This book is a translation of a part of the Vulgate Cycle, unfortunately a bit from the end. I really want to read that from the beginning, but this translation picks up after the end of the Grail quest. It's easy enough to follow, for me, but then, I know the story inside out. It's a much less fantastical narrative than some -- there's only one major bit of magic I can think of, and that's the hand of the Lady of the Lake catching Excalibur when Arthur has it thrown into the water at the end of his life. I disagree with the introduction's assertion that the other romances are silly and that this is more valuable for the lack of magic, but this is more realistic than other texts.It helps that I know and love the characters already, but I liked their portrayals here and the various deaths made me sad. It's an easy enough translation to read, it seems pretty clear, and overall I thought it was pretty enjoyable.

  • Ifmarybooks
    2019-05-01 05:48

    My review : Alors j'ai lu ce livre pour l'université dans le cadre de mon TD sur le roi Arthur (j'aime beaucoup de cours d'ailleurs). J'ai mis un peu de temps à le lire (2 semaines et demie) parce qu'il est assez épais (900 pages) mais bon je ne lisais que les pages de droite car en effet dans cette édition les pages de gauches sont rédigés en ancien français. C'est d'ailleurs très intéressant et amusant d'y jeter des coups d'œil parfois. Déjà je tiens à dire j'ADORE tout ce qui tient au médiéval, à la légende du Roi Arthur, aux chevaliers de la table ronde, au Graal, Excalibur, Merlin ect... Donc ce cours est vraiment fait pour moi et je suis contente qu'il soit proposé dans la fac où j'étudie. J'avais déjà beaucoup aimé au collège lire les romans de Chrétiens de Troyes (que j'ai d'ailleurs eu en édition La Pléiade pour mes 18 ans!) et donc j'étais contente de retrouver tout cet univers dans ce livre. Surtout que je le lisais en écoutant Era alors je me croyais véritablement transporté à cette époque. Par contre je ne connaissais pas la fin du Roi Arthur et ce livre relate ce qu'il se passe après que les chevaliers de la table ronde soient rentré de la quête du Graal et même si j'ai apprécié cette lecture c'est vrai que paradoxalement ce livre ternit l'image de cette légende. Car dans ce livre on y retrouve un roi Arthur immobile, qui assiste juste aux faits (même si je sais dans d'autres livres déjà on retrouve cette figure) même si à la fin il prend part aux batailles ou on le revoit en chevalier héroïque. Mais il est quand même dans ce livre passif... Il apprend enfin la liaison entre Guenièvre et Lancelot par la fée Morgane qui est aussi sa soeur et il essaye de se convaincre du contraire dans un premier temps. C'est donc un livre assez sombre qui révèle par delà l'héroïsme une autre face de l'homme plus propre à la traîtrise et avide pouvoir. On assiste au déclin du roi Arthur et de tous les chevalier de la table ronde. En commençant par la trahison de Lancelot avec Guenièvre puis celle de Mordret envers son père. Peu à peu les figures emblématiques des chevaliers de la table ronde meurent ainsi que ce célèbre roi Arthur mais si on veut conserver une part de légende comme certains on peut toujours croire qu'il va revenir d'Avalon... Enfin quoi qu'il en soit on assiste donc à la mort de beaucoup de héros et les dernières pages suivent Lancelot et Hector qui décident de se consacrer à Dieu puis Bohort. La religion prend donc une part importante dans cette fin.

  • Vicky Shirley
    2019-05-22 05:25

    Just finished reading this to avoid essays. Not quite sure what I think of it. I've never really enjoyed Middle English literature in translation, partly because I'm sure a lot of the musicality of literature from that period is located in word order (which gets shifted around in modern adaptations), and the lower vowel sounds. Some of the translation throughout the poem is probably a bit too modern for my liking, but I guess you have to do so to get around things like metre which dominates alliterative poetry. Re-reading it put a lot of things into perspective. The first thing that came to mind was how much of Arthurian and Briton history has been scaled down to become really quite episodic: Arthur almost becomes his typological counterparts, Brutus and Belinnus (especially as the latter conquered Rome), from Geoffrey of Monmouth's 'History of the Kings of Britain'. Arthur's guilt also stood out for me a lot more, and I think I'd probably glossed over that when I read the original. The fall of Arthur in this re-telling comes from the tension between foreign and domestic affairs because it's a chronicle based text. It does, however, make interesting comparisons to the French re-tellings which insert the Grail quest into the Arthurian cycle. Where the fall of the Round Table could be displaced onto that particular quest in those re-tellings, here Arthur's responsibilty is laid bare, and his lamentations over the death of his knights is a very interesting part of the text. The wheel of fortune and the nine worthies is also a pretty great moment. It is good to see an new adapatation of the poem, and I guess having Armitage translate it puts it out there to new audiences. The text has only really come into its own in the last few years, where previously it had just been used to supplement Malory's Morte Darthur as it was a source for the Roman Wars and heavily influenced the prose style of that section of his Arthuriad. I much prefer chronicle Arthurian history to some of the romances, so this was a good read, and I'll probably come back to it again at a later date.

  • Elise
    2019-05-16 05:23

    'I shall quite certainly fight him,' said the king, 'even if I have to die as a result, because I should be a coward if I did not defend my land against a traitor.'This book should of been called "The story of Lancelot, oh and King Arthur is there as well" because even when the book says it is moving on to tell a story about King Arthur or Sir Gawaine or Mordred it is always about Lancelot.This book was originally in French and is from the thirteenth-century so I was extremely excited to read such an old version of the Arthurian legend. The book starts out after the Quest for the Holy Grail and immediately jumps into the talk of Lancelot and Queen Gueneveres adulterous betrayl. Boring, boring, boring.I had expected so much more from this book considering it led me to believe it was about Arthur and not Lancelot. The lack of Morgan and Merlin really bothered me and the way the story would jump around was rather annoying.I did enjoy the moments we got with Sir Gawain, because he is without a doubt the best Knight from Arthurian legend. A quote I really liked was in the first few pages: 'My Lord,' said Sir Gawain, 'you obviously wish to be certain of my great misfortune, and I shall tell you, because I see that I must. I can tell you in truth that I killed eighteen by my own hand, not because I was a better knight than any of the others, but since misfortune affected me more than any of my companions. Indeed, it did not come about through my chivalry, but through my sin. You have made me reveal my shame.'Gawain's death was sad and made me cry so much and I thought I would cry reading Arthurs, but it was so boring and not at all climactic! It should of been the high point of the book, but instead it isn't

  • Kathryn
    2019-04-29 04:31

    I actually really loved this book! It was truly a pleasure to read and I really felt I'd got a vacation from my generally burdensome reading load, even though this was valuable in an academic sense, as well. The style flowed well, with a subtle and touching blend of action, romance, suspense, philosophy and everything else that makes our hearts beat and know that we're ALIVE! I especially appreciated the age of chivalry after some of the other eras I'd studied...!

  • Erin Britton
    2019-05-13 05:41

    Following his acclaimed translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Simon Armitage’s new book – The Death of King Arthur – marks a welcome return to the world of the Round Table. While the poetic Sir Gawain has always been a popular classic of Arthurian lore, The Death of King Arthur is Armitage’s translation of the Alliterative Morte Arthure, a four-thousand line poem written sometime around 1400, which has arguably been neglected in favour of Sir Thomas Malory’s prose Morte D’Arthur. However, despite having previously been eclipsed by its more straightforward cousin, the Alliterative Morte Arthure is a sterling, emotive example of the medieval Arthurian revival and with The Death of King Arthur Simon Armitage has done an excellent job of translating and revitalising this important text for a modern audience.The Death of King Arthur is perhaps a surprisingly brutal and bloody tale. Unlike the Arthurian Romances envisioned by Chrétien de Troyes and the noble, somewhat sanitised adventurers described by Malory, The Death of King Arthur deals with the cut and thrust of warfare and politics and so sees King Arthur firmly returned to his warrior roots. The poem begins with an overview of the kingly career of Arthur and of his household in the castle of Carlisle. Clearly these are chivalrous, courtly men that inspired the majority of the Arthurian legends but they are also something more.King Arthur is very much a military leader and one who is quicker to take up his sword that other interpretations of his character would suggest. A long list of all the “castles, kingdoms and countless regions” that Arthur has taken through conquest is presented while the King and his Knights enjoy a feast in honour of recent achievements. The celebratory mood at Court is, however, quickly soured when an emissary arrives from the Emperor Lucius. Since Britain as a whole is still technically subject to the authority of Rome, the Emperor demands that Arthur swear an oath of fealty and resume the payment of taxes to the Empire.This is a challenge to his authority that Arthur cannot overlook. He and his army therefore embark on a sweeping and largely successful military campaign which takes them almost to the gates of Rome. While Arthur’s prowess as a military leader is emphasised, he is also given a number of chances to show his noble side and so will break off from merciless conquest to avenge the honour of a noble woman stolen away by a fearsome giant. However, in The Death of King Arthur he is not the wise ruler of other interpretations of the legend. This Arthur is consumed by his idea of kingly honour and cannot take his eyes from the big picture of worldwide conquest in time to see the danger that he faces at home. King Arthur is here defeated as much by his own ego as by the plotting of his enemies.No doubt unsurprisingly given its title, the Alliterative Morte Arthure was written in alliterating lines [so, containing words that begin with the same sound or letter] which harked back to Anglo-Saxon poetic composition and so presented some particular challenges for the translator.It is a rarely used style and the necessary constraints that come with it make producing a coherent narrative, especially in a poem of this length, potentially difficult. In his own illuminating introduction to The Death of King Arthur Simon Armitage discusses the approach he had to take in order to maintain the alliterative style while at the same time translating the text in a way that would captivate a modern audience. There seem to have been two principle difficulties in producing this translation – the original author’s lack of consistency as to characters and locations and also his tendency to get a tad carried away with the alliteration in a way that fails to advance the story – but Armitage has overcome both of them.The Death of King Arthur is a powerful retelling of a poetic masterpiece. Armitage has mastered the alliterative line and so more than does justice to the “mass of riotous life which courses through the narrative’s veins.”

  • Cin
    2019-04-29 09:40

    La historia del Rey Arturo siempre me ha gustado mucho, creo que es una de las leyendas que más me apasionan de Europa, y hasta ahora se me ha hecho la oportunidad de leer esta historia. Es lo primero que leo del Ciclo Artúrico (aunque he leído otras obras que hablan del rey Arturo, pero son contemporáneas), y si bien creo que necesito leer otras obras para comprender más detalles, no deja de ser una historia apasionante y que te engancha desde las primeras páginas. Ésta es la historia de las traiciones que sufre Arturo y, como el nombre lo indica, su muerte. Me gustó mucho.

  • Ace McGee
    2019-05-12 10:41

    The gold standard of Arthurian literature. All the favorites, all being seduced by magic and bewitched for sex! Happens once, OK, but this seems to be an every day occurrence. No personal responsibility if you are under a spell.Best quote: “Here lies King Arthur, the once and future King”This translation attributed to Sir Thomas Morley3 CDs

  • CuteBadger
    2019-04-26 04:26

    I'm a big fan of Simon Armitage's work and enjoyed this translation, more for the quiet phases between battles than for the battles themselves. The skill used to keep to the alliterative style is wonderful.

  • Nicholas Bobbitt
    2019-05-23 09:41

    I'm just a sucker for Arthurian romances.

  • Bina
    2019-05-26 12:28

    I enjoyed this volume. It contains two poems, the alliterative Morte Arthure (c. 1400) and the stanzaic Le Morte Arthur (c. 1350), both of whose subject is the series of dramatic events that lead to the death of King Arthur and several of his knights. These poems pre-date Sir Thomas Malory's more well-known work Le Morte D'Arthur and it is clear from reading them that Malory heavily drew from the stanzaic poem, which in turn is a re-working of an earlier Arthurian work. That's the thing with Arthurian legend: there is no one "original" story. Rather, there is a whole corpus of medieval works in different languages that treat the subject of "The Matter of Britain." These two poems alone are starkly different in their narrative focus. Although both culminate with the treachery of Mordred and the death of the King, in the alliterative poem Mordred betrays Arthur after he goes to the continent to defeat the Romans, while in the stanzaic poem the betrayal happens while Arthur and Gawain are in France fighting against Lancelot. However, in Arthurian legend as a whole, both things are said to happen, depending on the work you read. Thus, since Malory's work synthesizes most Arthurian literature available at the time, I recommend readers to read that work if they want to know the "full story" of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table. That being said, I wish I was more equipped to appreciate the different types of verse in this volume. Brian Stone (the translator) offers a helpful introduction about his sources and the meter of each poem, but I don't know much about the development of poetry in the English language to fully appreciate it. They were both very well written poems, and it was interesting to see how the characters differed in each poem. Gawain, for example, is much wiser in the alliterative poem and more stubborn in the stanzaic one, although also much more round. (Gawain deserves a much deeper discussion than this review allows). It is also interesting to think of these two poems within the context in which they were written: England's Hundred Years' War against France. Edward III and Henry IV may both have been the inspiration for these renditions of King Arthur.I recommend this volume to students of English and/or Arthurian literature. Like I said before, people that want to read about the epic quests of all the Knights of the Round Table should read Malory instead. Also, if you are a fan of Lancelot, you will be disappointed to find that he only has a very minor role in the alliterative poem, though his character is at the center of the stanzaic one.

  • Ed Smiley
    2019-05-11 11:50

    This looks like the same cover, but the page count does not match, mine is a little-bitty-teeny-weenie miniature Penguin, albeit without a penchant for swimming through ice cold water or eating fish.This is the tail-end of the Arthur legends, and like all ends, there is a sense of loss, which is enhanced by Mallory's archaic, elegiacal, and pensive prose.(view spoiler)[The final end of Arthur, Guinevere (who repents her extramarital affair (albeit with the flower of knighthood) and becomes nunnified, Lancelot, time passing him by, and so forth. My favorite passage is the event of the back adder. It is the epitome of the fatal flaw in MAD doctrine: mutually assured destruction. Strangely Strangelovian.Essentially if goes like this. Mordred (Arthur's wicked son by incest, for those of you who are fond of scandal, and are uninformed of things Arthurian) has massed a great army against his father,and has poisoned the people against him.Massed armies of tens of thousands on each side prepare for battle-- but wait, Arthur receives a revelation: if he engages in battle that day he is doomed. He therefore, sues for a truce with Mordred, offering him tasty bits and chunks of England. Of course, neither side trusts the other. It's like the Hitler-Stalin pact: Stalin knows he's just buying time, Hitler is content to wait. However, neither side does anything dishonorable at the moment. In fact each side, fearing treachery, and in an effort to prevent misunderstanding gives identical orders. No one is to give offense or make any sudden aggressive move; if the other side breaks the truce, launch an attack immediately.All well and good. Somebody, it doesn't matter on which side, steps on a black adder. They whirl out their sword and cut off its head. (If you are looking for Judeo-Christian symbolism here, you've come to the right place--wink wink.)Yep, you've got it. Launch on warning. A bloodsoaked battle ensues, even though Arthur has done everything he can to prevent it.Modred is left with one knight standing. ALL of Aurthur's knights are killed. The score is 1 to 0 (or -99,999 to -100,000, more like).Arthur, trapped by honor, attacks Mordred with fatal consequences.Wow. (hide spoiler)]

  • Lucy
    2019-04-26 07:29

    Penguin Classics books are always a hit with me. Every time I decide to pick up one of these books, I come out completely satisfied. It was no different with this last purchase.Sitting quaint in my favourite used book store, this tiny book ( at only $1.99) was just waiting for the right person to pick it up and give it a chance. I’m so glad I did!The Death of King Arthur, is the famous king's tale written by an unknown author - ‘but most probably a Frenchman from Champagne, writing around 1230-35.’ This in itself got me so curious, that I just had to read it- if not for the story but at least for the flavor of reading something so old. I love the feeling of period writing because it really sets the mood for the piece. This one did not disappoint.In The Death Of King Arthur, we read about all the great knights: Lancelot, Sir Gawain, Hector, Mador… Not only do we get the exciting battles fought for principle and reputation, there is so much gallantry, respect, honor and chivalry that make this book a precious piece of literature. Arthur’s beautiful Queen is at the center of this story, causing much dilemma between both Arthur and Lancelot.The book is straightforward and although there are no flowery parts or picturesque moments or scenes, in its purity, this story does not need embellishing. What a refreshing read! Seemingly told by the author, as though he were narrating, I came to accept abrupt changes in the story that simply went like this: ‘And now the story stops telling of Bors and his company, and returns to Lancelot…’As strange and cut-off as this may seem, something that would never work in today’s writing, but considering the source and the time, it still works perfectly in this novel.All I can say is that I really enjoyed reading this amazing tale, although simplistic in its form and told in such a straightforward manner, The Death of King Arthur managed to capture my interest and my heart. It made me remember why it is that I love Penguin Classics so much. Simply beautiful.

  • Nikki
    2019-05-05 05:46

    (Third book in the readathon!)Morte Arthure -- The translation of this alliterative poem seems okay. It tries to keep the alliterative nature of the original poem, which works in some places and feels overwrought in others. The introduction to the poem is pretty good, anyway, and helpful in understanding it.The story of the poem focuses for the most part on Arthur's battles with Rome, when they demand tribute for him, but it contains several other episodes, including Arthur's battle with the giant of Mont St Michel (not handed off to another knight, as that kind of episode often is in Arthurian literature, but undertaken by Arthur alone) and the fight against the treacherous Mordred. At this point, you can almost still relate to Mordred, treacherous and cowardly as he is -- or I can, anyway, perhaps influenced by his sincere lament for the fallen Gawain.The fall of Gawain, and Arthur's reaction, remind me a lot of The Song of Roland, re: Roland's death and Charlemagne's reaction.Le Morte Arthur -- The translation of the stanzaic poem is actually better than that of the alliterative poem, I think. I found it easier to read. Something about it keeps it lively, even though the subject matter is largely tragic. Again, the introduction is pretty good and explains what's going on pretty well.The alliterative poem doesn't deal much with Lancelot, but this poem is based on a French version which focuses on Lancelot and Guinevere's adultery. Arthur is much less important here, and instead it's his knights and his wife that hold centre stage: Lancelot, Gawain, Guinevere. Although Mordred and Arthur are important too, they're not what lives for me in the narrative.I do love Sir Gawain: his portrayal in this version is one I can get behind.

  • Michael Holloway
    2019-04-28 04:29

    The last part of the Vulgate Cycle, 'The Death of King Arthur' bears some similarities with Mallory's 'Le Morte d'Arthur' (Le Morte d'Arthur: King Arthur and the Legends of the Round Table), covering the same subject but in much less flowery prose. The story here is presented with a matter-of-fact sensibility - characters frequently give up their kingdoms to join the priesthood with not a second thought, for example - that serves to emphasise just how different that time was from today, a difference often lost in modern adaptations where we take the idea of chivalry without questioning.The central story is very enjoyable, with events presented with sufficient (though old-fashioned) reasoning as to make this a complex tale. There are enough differences between this, Mallory, and TH White's 'The Once and Future King' (The Once and Future King) to make the book worth reading, while also giving readers new to Arthurian legends a good grounding in the history (although certain events, such as Girflet's disposing of Excalibur, may seem a little strange with no background knowledge.Special recommendation if you are a fan of the phrases 'hated him mortally' and 'dealt him a mortal wound', which in the latter half of the book appear at least once a page.

  • N.J. Ramsden
    2019-05-20 07:45

    I've read some terrifically scathing comments (not here) regarding Armitage's language – no, he's not perfect, he takes liberties and does his own thing with it, and there might even be interpretive errors that slipped past an edit - none of which is unusual or cause for major bitterness. Armitage picked an oddity for a modern working I think, as the narrative of the piece is rather linear and simplistic, and there's clearly some medieval tubthumping going on – but broadly he's pulled it off. Having not read the original I can't comment much about it, except to say I suspect Armitage's strengths are reflected here in the sections where there's actually some story to grapple with, while in the repetitive and prolix sections one can feel the writing flagging. How much of that can be pinned on the original I can't say so won't conjecture.His SGGK is probably the better piece, both as a readable poem and as a work of interest to the general Armitage-friendly public. Scholars of Arthuriana will probably prefer the originals of both over any translation, but Armitage's approachable style wins over any glitches there might be in both works.

  • Ravi
    2019-05-06 12:33

    After finally reading this (and my english seminar professor may raise a few eyebrows at this confession), I really do want to complete the rest of the Arthurian legend material, from Cretian de Troyes' contributions, to Mallory's work, in order to understand more of the references that are laced throughout this story.This book covers the fall of Camelot and ends with the death of King Arthur. If your only exposure to King Arthur are the movies, then this book may surprise you in terms of the order of events and the harsh characterizations that have since been softened by more recent popular fiction. I enjoyed learning more about the fall of Camelot, as the story was presented here. It will not answer any questions about the true origins of King Arthur, but it should provide great insight into the world in which the story originated.

  • Michael
    2019-05-22 11:25

    This is a book best tackled by the hardcore fan of Arthurian tales; it may be best to have read one of the more modern versions like "The Once and Future King" before trying this one. It is a long book, digressive, and nonlinear in it's narrative. The language is also makes it a tough read with frequent interruptions to check the glossary. The reward for all this work is a unique view of the environment of the high middle ages and the paradoxes of the code of chivalry and the hubris it causes in the protagonists. Herein are the tragic quests for the Holy Grail, the doomed romance of Lancelot and Guinevere, the triumph of Sir Gawain and the epic of Percival, all rolled into one big rambling package. It's a good look at how honor can govern lives and where the traps are.

  • Maja
    2019-05-04 11:25

    I picked up this book mainly because I was curious. Everyone ones the name King Arthur, but only few can say, that they actually know more than just that. There are of course many tales of King Arthur and his noble knights, but this was the first that I read, and I found it very intriguing. I was fascinated, not only by the story, but also by the writing and the themes. It' a story of love, loyalty, courage and honour beyond any other. Emotions are high and powerful in this story; if someone loves, they love with all of their life and even into death. If someone hates they hate with a passion so profound that not even the deaths of thousands can undo that hate. In all it is a tragedy unlike any other I have ever read.

  • Ensiform
    2019-05-06 04:32

    Actually more about the fall and rise of Lancelot than the depleting fortunes of Arthur, although the two are intertwined. There are very few magical elements in this telling; it's a series of realistically-described, tragic events that --- as the story makes clear --- could have been prevented if Arthur, at the time of the narrative 92 years old, had not been so woolly-headed and easily swayed by the overpowering vengeance of Gawain, as well as entrusting his kingdom to Mordred, whom even Guinevere knew was a treacherous sort. However, the tale makes no judgments on any of the characters; it's simply-told, with no loose threads and no non-essential scenes.

  • Vohumanu
    2019-05-16 08:43

    It's funny how often people don't recognise each other. Not just "Oh it was you Lancelot, greatest knight in the world, who was at the tournament disguised, but was still the greatest knight in the world with your height and build", but also, "Oh it was you cousin Bors who gave me this terrible wound, dressed in your traditional heraldry". Arthur speaks to the lady of the tower all night and then the next morning recognises her as his sister Morgan.