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Tales of King Arthur: King Arthur and the Round Table (Books of Wonder) Hardcover – September 27, 1995
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From School Library Journal
Grade 2-4?Talbott began retelling Sir Thomas Malory's Morte D'Arthur with King Arthur: The Sword in the Stone (Morrow, 1991). This sequel contains roughly three episodes. The first is that of the civil wars raging through Britain. Arthur fights, views the desolation, and asks Merlin how to unify his people. The second is his fateful meeting with Guinevere, his love for her, and finally their marriage. The third section concerns the Round Table, but ends after Arthur assembles his knights around it and their names magically appear on the backs of their chairs. There is no lingering on the peace-bringing quality that roundness supplies. The rich watercolor tableaux, predominantly double-page spreads, paint war as bloody and painful, not all glorious. The love scenes glow golden. The Round Table, huge and decorated with the signs of the zodiac, exhibits its power more than the words do. Overall, this is a rousing addition to the current pickings of Arthurian stories.?Helen Gregory, Grosse Pointe Public Library, MI
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
A swift, almost frantic, second volume in the Tales of King Arthur series, covering Arthur's battles with rebellious nobles, the meeting with Guinevere as she tends wounded upon Bedegraine's battlefield, the vanquishing of King Ryence, marriage to Guinevere, and dedication of the Round Table. It's quite a bite for a picture book, and a spirited production at that, with armies riding on horseback, swarming festivities, the wizard Merlin conjuring a fire-breathing dragon from the Round Table, plus an intense romance, all brought alive by Talbott's dramatic, cinematic watercolors. The story is rushed, a saga hitched to a rocket, hurling readers from battle to love story, back to battle, to a pining Arthur, back to battle, and then to Camelot, all without chance to appreciate the events in their entirety. Younger children will find it too hurried to take in, and older ones may move on, instead, to novel-size retellings. (Kirkus Reviews) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
If you like King Arthur, and want to see those legends told in a truly remarkable way, you need to get the three "Tales of King Arthur" books (King Arthur and the Round Table, Excalibur, and The Sword in the Stone), as well as the accompanying book, "Lancelot".
Though it may be a tad complicated for younger readers, with the subtleties of romance and the strategies of war explored in reasonable detail, it is still great Arthurian reading for the older ones, especially in Talbott's touching insecurity of Arthur as he struggles to lead men who: "have *grandsons* older than me!" Talbott's early Arthur is a delight - nervous, love-struck, inexperienced, and yet brave, determined, fiery in battle and devoted to his cause. Often authors downplay either Arthur's strengths or his weaknesses, but Talbott finds the perfect balance between the two, and as such presents the quintessential Arthur.
"King Arthur and the Round Table" chronicles several crucial events in the young king's life - his skirmishes with rebel kings that reject his claim to the throne, his fateful meeting with his future queen Guinevere, and the founding of Camelot and the Round Table. It is obviously the middle-installment of a trilogy as it neither begins anything nor resolves anything, yet it is gloriously illustrated and loyally told - though with a few original flourishes of Talbott's own.
At a stage when most authors are attempting to find increasingly "new" takes on the Arthurian stories, Talbott is refreshingly traditionalist in his portrayal of people and places; presenting it all through rose-coloured glasses as a fully romanticised Golden Age of the medieval era. Everyone here is as you'd expect them to be, from Merlin in his purple robes and conical hat to Arthur himself; a heroic vision in gold and red, with a white steed and shining sword - every little boy's dream of medieval magnificence. Likewise it's easy to see why Arthur was so immediately smitten with golden-haired, sweet-faced Guinevere. The Round Table is the perfect vision of unity and mystery, and as for Camelot itself...it's simply glorious, as captured by Talbott in the evening light.
Only battle is appropriately portrayed as bloody and tragic, with darkened (through exciting) scenes of combat and sieges, resulting in a gory scene of the post-battlefield. This however is perhaps Talbott's most beautiful picture, considering the vision of Guinevere aiding the wounded by the lakeshore, watched from afar by Arthur. It is a heartbreakingly poignant scene if one is aware of their future together, and though their meeting is an original creation by Talbott, it feels so *right* in both its innocence and foreshadowing.
I mentioned before that other authors are going to increasing lengths to create new ways of telling the Arthurian stories, and one that often pops up is the conflict between Christianity and Paganism. Talbott has an answer for this too; in another of his gorgeous two-page vistas we see the marriage of Arthur and Guinevere, awash in golden light and flanked by a Catholic priest with a crucifix and Merlin with an oak branch. It is stunning scene of hope and peace, where differing religions, genders and kingdoms are presumed to be in harmony, not conflict.
The more I discuss it the more I realise that this is a simply gorgeous book, and must-have for any young Arthurian fan.