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Showing 1-10 of 572 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 667 reviews
on May 8, 2014
This is the book I would recommend to anyone just beginning to take an interest in Arthurian legend. It is based on Sir Thomas Malory's classic Arthurian work, Le Morte d'Arthur. So you get the same basic story without so many details, and it is easier to read. (It flows more nicely, and it is clearer and more entertaining.) So it is a good book to start out with to give you a basic overview of the story - not that all versions of any given Arthurian romance are the same, however.

The downside is that certain significant things are omitted - things that the author probably found morally objectionable- such as the exact circumstances of how King Arthur's mother Igraine became married to Uther Pendragon. Also, Lancelot and Guinevere's relationship becomes more G-rated in this version. So does Sir Tristram and Isolt's relationship (or Iseult / Isolde - I forget how it's spelled in this version).

Apart from that, however, it's a very good book in it's own right. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. The ending was especially epic.

And if you are a serious Arthurian fan, you'll need to read Le Morte d'Arthur anyway. So you can familiarize yourself with the spicier details of the story that way. (I also highly recommend Beroul's version of The Romance of Tristan for a more in-depth story about Sir Tristram a.k.a Sir Tristan and Iseult the Fair.)
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on September 20, 2016
Sir Malory's Le Morte D'Arthur is probably the best know telling of the Arthurian legend. It was published in the 15th century and has been the basis for many movies. It was a compilation of the known Arthurian tales of that time. Sir Knowles took that work (about 400 years later) and refreshes it in The Legends of King Arthur and His Knights. Therefore, much of what this book contains will be very familiar to the reader if they have read Malory's work. Sir Knowles collaborated with Lord Alfred Tennyson in the conception and execution of this book.

In the foreword, Knowles' Wife writes that Lord Tennyson referred to himself as the foremost scholar of the Arthurian legends and said that Knowles was perhaps the next behind him. A bit pretentious perhaps but it does give a bit of a pedigree to the contents. Don't let that dissuade you from adding this work to your collection. I have not read Le Morte D'Arthur for some time but it certainly seems that Sir Knowles has added a few stories and tales that perhaps were not available to Sir Malory. I do not recall them at any rate and would need to do a side by side to verify that. All in all this a nice collection of Arthurian tales and stories. It is certainly well worth the price, "free".
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The book begins with King Vortigern being told
of an enemy approaching. He orders that a
castle be built within 100 days as a refuge from
the oncoming attack. The story leads into a
tremendous battle between dragons in a lake
environment.

Merlin predicts that the outcome of the battle
represents Britain's eventual decline. The stories
build up to the end of King Arthur's reign due to
the war with Sir Lancelot.

The story is thoroughly engaging for readers everywhere.
The verse is written in an "Old English" colloquial style which
adds to the interesting aspect of the stories presented.
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on January 23, 2012
There are many versions of Arthur and the boys that are worth reading; Le Morte d'Arthur, Four Arthurian Romances, or even novelizations and outlandish ones such as Mists of... and Dawn of Avalon. All have something to offer
readers who wish to delve into the rich legends and lore where the rules of Chivalry dictate the action and
in which the exploits of errant knights are captured in all their glory.

In this work by Sir James Knowles, we are treated to these outlandish tales through a very Victorian lens.
While some reviewers may see this as a deterrent, I found that this perspective took very little
away from this fine work and, in some ways, enhanced the storytelling to a degree. The detractors focus on what's
not written. The broader influences of Merlin say, or the omission of certain tales (the green knight), or how
the dalliances of Lancelot are written in such a way to suggest it was a misunderstanding and not an affair. But
understand, while I too wish these were more plainly wrought, there is still much here to enjoy.

Many other sources may have a leg up (Pyle's three book narrative especially) but there is a certain preciousness
or innocence to these works that Sir James manages to capture that in some ways surpasses these works in terms of
romantic ideals. And, honestly, the courtly romance is truly what is at the heart of all Arthurian legends. The
epic adventures are nothing without the grounding of the courtly, chivalrous love that inspires them.

To a modern reader, this may be a point of frustration. It is hard for us to look upon the actions the knights
have to take to fulfill their promises without a certain amount of cynicism. Most will roll their eyes each time
a night promises to fulfill an obligation to a woman without first ascertaining if the woman is true or if she is
not a woman but a witch, etc. But again, it is the utter idealization of Arthur's court and the romantic notions
winding their way through the symbolic adventures that make these stories worthwhile.

Once you can accept these ideals, you will find the stories themselves to be chock full of adventure. Note that
redundancy is also an issue here. Fights always take an "hour or two", with pages devoted to horse provisions,
damsels are always more than they seem, and all valiant knights of the Round Table face 40/1 odds and always
slay opponents on both the left and the right. These scenes and phrases abound to the point where you often
can find yourself skimming large portions of the action scenes if you are not careful.

At about the 2/3 point, however, Galahad joins the crew and the whole focus of the book shifts. The courtly code
no longer is as obtrusive, and the focus goes from finding adventure to pursuing the holy grail. Here the
supernatural elements seem to become doubled, and each and every page begins to drip with symbolism. Lineages to
ancient biblical figures are established, and Camelot is propelled to full mythic proportions. Fittingly, just as
you begin to accept the godliness of these heroes, their very real humanity destroys them all.

Buying any Arthurian romance is worth the price of admission (in my opinion anyway). "Buying" it here as a free
E-read is even better. There are some disappointments with the format. Chapters are not as clean and the
many illustrations are described but are not to be found. However, these are available to view on the net if you
insist on seeing them. And as I said earlier, there are many versions available for purchase that can meet your
needs and many of them are free/public domain as well. But if you want to take a quick, accessible dive this
e-book will be a great first step into the realm of Camelot.
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on April 1, 2011
I have only given up on a book once before in my life. This one makes two. The language is a bit cumbersome for the 21st century reader, but one can overcome that. If you make it past the archaic language, there is little/no character development or plotline. Basically, all you get is a series of fights and battles. "Sir So-and-So fought Sir So-and-So until their lances broke. Then they fought on the ground with swords until they were both bleeding badly. Then Sir So-and-So prevailed." Repeat this over and over and you've got it. The parts you'd think would be more interesting, like the sword in the stone or Arthur's marriage to Geneviere, are barely mentioned in the midst of all the fighting. I gave up about 1/3 of the way through and I'm going to check out some other Arthur stories recommended by other reviewers of this book.
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on February 20, 2015
This is a good sized, thick book with torn edge paper. It has the feel of an adult book, but is meant for kids.

The illustrations are black and white and ofter are made to look like manuscript illuminations (but B&W) and many have a Celtic intertwined motif that I find enjoyable. Arthur was a Celt, after all, and the English were Angles, Saxons, and Jutes who invaded fertile farmlands which they took for their own forcing the Celt inhabitants to Wales and Cornwall, both with little desirable farmland. I laugh when I see Hollywood calling Arthur King of England. He fought the English bitterly if we believe he existed at all. Arthur became popular after the Viking Normans conquered England and Arthur was celebrated as the fighter of the people who took the Celts place, and were now being displaced. Compare with Robin Hood (Saxons were the good guys and Normans were the bad guys) for the other side of the story.

There are 14 chapters here that cover the usual suspect in Arthurian lore.

If I had to criticize it at all, I would say it is a little cramped in presentation and presents itself as if it has more inertia than a more modern book. Personally, I like that but some might view this as a bit dated. Guess what? It is old-fashioned, and closer to the feel of the original stories.
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on January 19, 2012
This book read more like the book of Numbers in the Bible than the great legend of King Arthur. In place of a long list of parentage, this book contains a long list of smiting and killing. I expected to read the story of the sword and the stone and the boy king, but it felt like that story actually took up about four pages and then went right into Arthur trying to take over the world. I expected to learn about the relationship between Arthur and Guinevere, but we meet her in one chapter followed by "they're gonna get married later" and then later all of a sudden they're married. Instead of learning of the good deeds of Lancelot leading to him wooing the Queen, you see killing left and right and it almost seems that any good deeds are purely by accident. I'm only halfway through the book and I'm fighting myself to finish it. I have never put down a book after I've started to read it regardless of whether I've enjoyed it or not (similarly to never having walked out of a movie theater in the middle no matter how bad the movie is), and this book is trying that record.

If I could get past my issues with the story itself (maybe I had the wrong expectations), I find the quality of this edition very poor. I understand that Kindle versions won't have any illustrations that may make a difference in the print version, the "publisher" replaced the images with bracketed descriptions of the image, which was very distracting. Additionally many of the paragraphs are not properly indented which causes a disruption in the reading. Every time this occurred, I found myself looking back a the paragraph before to make sure that I wasn't missing something.

All in all 0 for 2.
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on May 5, 2010
This wasn't my favorite. I'm not quite sure if it was the language or just that I thought the stories were toned down from the original. Also, I was amazed at how often everyone "smote" each other. I like the King Arthur stories, but it can become a bit repetitive after a little while. A lot of damsels in distress who are wandering through the forest and then of course the smiting of each other. Even with all the smiting, the fighting wasn't very descriptive which is why I think it feels toned down. However, the story is a classic and one that I think every avid reader should read. There's plenty of chivalry, maidens in distress, magic, and wizards.
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on July 19, 2011
I grabbed this as a free choice, and since I had never read any of the Arthur legends, thought this would be a good place to start. However, after getting a third of the way through, found myself wanting something better. The more I read from there, the more tedious it became.
1. The historical setting, with the relationships to politics and the church just seemed to be far-fetched. Life may have been like that later on, but it just got a bit hard to swallow at times.
2. Jousting seems a little strangely entered into. It's kind of like: "You shall not pass." "I must." "Then one of us must die." "OK, let's do this." Chivalry and honor are not really explained, so it feels like mindless killing for bravado.
3. On the other hand, knights are placed in moral dilemmas all the time, making them choose between their promises and their direct orders. Morals are in tension all the time, as well as the repercussions of endless revenge seeking. This is interesting, but does not really satisfy because of the above 2 objections.
I think I'll look for something more accurate to the legends, since that is what I really wanted to read about.
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on July 21, 2015
I was deeply disappointed by this adaptation of the Arthurian legend. I hadn't read the reviews before I started -- I wish I had. As many other commenters have noted, this is a Victorian adaptation of the legend, which means that certain aspects of the story (like Sir Lancelot's affair with Lady Guinevere) are heavily de-emphasized because they were too lewd for contemporary audiences. There are also other well-known stories (the most prominent being Sir Gawain and the Green Knight) that aren't present at all.

If you're interested in the traditional stories of the King Arthur legend, this collection is strictly worse than Thomas Mallory's Le Morte D'Arthur, which is always available at a low price for Kindle. If you're looking for entertainment that utilizes the Arthurian characters, there are a lot of superior series, such as Marion Zimmer Bradley's Avalon, T.H. White's Once and Future King, Mary Stewart's Arthurian Saga, Bernard Cornwell's Warlord Chronicles, and Stephen R. Lawhead's Pendragon Cycle. Those are all different works aimed at different audiences, but you'll definitely be able to find something more engaging than Sir Knowles' collection here.
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