cataloging

Review: The Legend of the King

I have a relatively short list of series that I really do think everyone should read at least once as a kid, and fairly high on the list is Gerald Morris's Squires Tale series, which takes bits and pieces of the Arthurian legendarium and spins them into good-humored and highly readable short novels. Eacch book includes a post-script which points readers to the source material, explaining what was changed in the retelling and why.

Even though they're clearly aimed for a significantly younger audience, I find myself revisitng the books from time to time, simply for the pleasure of reading about characters who are clearly good, despite flaws and mistakes. The world Morris portrays is one where courage and loyalty and generosity are celebrated (which is even more appealing at the moment, given the state of things both at home and abroad, alas).

This is true even in the last book of the series, The Legend of the King, which I just read for only the second time. But then, the fall of Arthur and Camelot is a painful story of trust broken and past sins coming back to haunt you, and the death of a good king. What makes this retelling unique from the various other versions I've read over the years is that despite the terrible events making up the story, Morris manages to keep a thread of hope running throughout, and to end it on a solidly positive note. I've yet to encounter another book that accomplishes a similar feat--to have all the main characters defeated and most of the killed, and yet not end like a tragedy.

Anyhow, it's way past my bedtime, so please pardon any typos, but I wanted to make sure to bring this book and this series to people's attention. If you're looking for something that's both (mostly) fun and yet has some surprising depth to it--and you feel like spending some time with knights and kings and magic--definitely worth taking a look at.
Oh those are brilliant! I hadn't come across the last one, I will go and look for it.
Aren't they just? I remember being so happy when I discovered them at our local library. And I definitely would recommend the last one, even though it's very sad at points. (I guess that's part of the whole point of the Arthur story.)
I remember feeling like some of the later ones weren't quite so delightful as the first few -- but oh, do I ever love the first few, so it's kind of a high bar. And I haven't gotten all the way to the end. I'll have to try to grab the rest... mm. This is probably a series to pick up in ebook and solid form for maximum options, especially with a child who'll be reading one of these days.
There's still a couple towards the end that I haven't gotten around to, but yes--the beginning books set a very high bar.