by Roger Lancelyn Green
This book hits the ground running and doesn’t let up until the last word. The reader is almost out of breath by the end, it has so much going on. I dare say, it’s difficult to find a boring moment in this book.
Green wrote this book as an update to an earlier compilation of all the King Arthur stories written by Sir Thomas Malory, with additions of other stories that Malory hadn’t included (the Green Knight was so cool!) and also the occasional use of other sources for some of the same stories Malory did include.
Green used King Arthur’s kingdom as the unifying factor between all the stories but, really, the stories of each knight are almost stand alone, as well. There is much battling, sword fighting, jousting and someone’s head is getting cut off practically every other chapter and yet it’s not gory. The violence was exciting and necessary – it was a violent time – but not reveling in the violence for violence’s sake. It was a kind of gentleman’s violence.
The story is filled with chivalry, virtue, honor, holiness and constant references to the sacraments. Most of the knights strive – despite any threat of death – to be honorable men, to follow the code of chivalry, to rescue damsels in distress and to do their best not to bring shame to themselves or King Arthur’s kingdom (called Logres). In fact, even many of the enemy knights behave in an honorable manner.
Lancelot’s story, in particular, is a masterful illustration of the destruction of nurturing sinful thoughts instead of working to dispel them. It also shows the destruction of sin, once committed (which is why he should have worked to dispel those thoughts), on not only the two involved but on everyone around them.
There was good and bad magic, curses, a dragon, a magical boat, lots of mysterious goings ons and everything surrounding the Holy Grail was very cool.
The last chapter was awesome. You could almost hear the triumphant music starting to rise right before the scene went black and then went to credits.
I loved every moment of this book. It was fun, entertaining, very well-written and virtuous but without the after school special feel that many people fall into the trap of writing when they try to write virtuous. A most excellent book that every young adult should read before they graduate high school. If they took half of the stories to heart, our society would change overnight.