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30 review for Le Mort d'Arthur, Volume 1

  1. 4 out of 5

    Phillip.c.lacey

    This was an enjoyable read, if you like knights and stuff. The story is a metaphor for the shift in beliefs of many gods to the belief in the Christian god. I learned that knights pretty much spend their time on quests and challenging each other at the drop of a hat. A typical example would be a conversation like this. "I say, Sir Gallahad, the color red is above all the best color." "I disagree, Sir Palomides, for I hold the color green to be the best." "I challenge you then, let us joust to see o This was an enjoyable read, if you like knights and stuff. The story is a metaphor for the shift in beliefs of many gods to the belief in the Christian god. I learned that knights pretty much spend their time on quests and challenging each other at the drop of a hat. A typical example would be a conversation like this. "I say, Sir Gallahad, the color red is above all the best color." "I disagree, Sir Palomides, for I hold the color green to be the best." "I challenge you then, let us joust to see once and for all which is the best of the two colors!" "Yes, we shall see which is better! And you will rue the day you challenged the glory of the color green!" Good stuff.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Alexis Hall

    Okay, the Morte d'Arthur is ... weird as hell but I love it because it saved my life. Well maybe not my life. But some part of my life. Basically there was this exam where you had to analyse a bit of Medieval poetry given to you from a set selection of texts. Everyone did Pearl because it was short and the other option were insane (one of them being THE ENTIRETY of the fucking Morte). Anyway, I hate Pearl. It all looks the same. And that guy has some creepy ideas about his daughter, just sayin'. So I o Okay, the Morte d'Arthur is ... weird as hell but I love it because it saved my life. Well maybe not my life. But some part of my life. Basically there was this exam where you had to analyse a bit of Medieval poetry given to you from a set selection of texts. Everyone did Pearl because it was short and the other option were insane (one of them being THE ENTIRETY of the fucking Morte). Anyway, I hate Pearl. It all looks the same. And that guy has some creepy ideas about his daughter, just sayin'. So I open up the paper and there's a bit of Pearl. And of course it looks like every other bit of Pearl. Blah blah daughter blah blah Jesus. So I'm like fuck. So I start looking at the other crap and there's a bit for the Morte ... which is the bit that everybody knows. It's the scene where Lancelot is caught 'in the Queen's bed chamber' and there's a big fight and symbolic blood and he jumps out the window. So I did that. And, lo, I lived happily ever after. Honestly, what can you say about the Morte d'Arthur. I like to imagine Malory sitting in prison, grumpy as hell, quill in hand, scribbling away in a frenzy, muttering to himself about fucking peasants and fucking women. Basically this is the story of Arthur you want to read if you're into war and you think kissing is for girls. And possibly also if you're annoyed. "So, to pass upon this tale, Sir Launcelot went unto bed with the queen." RACEY STUFF SIR THOM!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Amanda Hupe

    I read Le Morte d’Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory in college but I can’t have an Arthurian Legend list and not add this classic. Sir Thomas Malory lived during the Wars of the Roses, lived a life of crime, and even died in prison after at one point supporting both sides in the war. At least, that is what historians believe, there is a possibility that there are other identities. Anyway, these works consist of eight stories starting with the birth of King Arthur. In his works, we meet all the familia I read Le Morte d’Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory in college but I can’t have an Arthurian Legend list and not add this classic. Sir Thomas Malory lived during the Wars of the Roses, lived a life of crime, and even died in prison after at one point supporting both sides in the war. At least, that is what historians believe, there is a possibility that there are other identities. Anyway, these works consist of eight stories starting with the birth of King Arthur. In his works, we meet all the familiar characters such as Merlin, King Uther, Morgan Le Fay, Gwynevere, and many more. I love the legends surrounding King Arthur and there is no doubt that these stories hold a significant place in history. However, it is not a complex read. It is very slow and repetitive. He said, she said, this happened, then this happened. It is literally telling what is happening. So it can be difficult to read. It is not a binge read. It will take some time. This time around I actually listened to the audiobook and that was a bigger mistake. The audiobook is narrated by Frederick Davidson. His narration is very dry and dull. This is a tricky rating, but I give it 4 out of 5 stars because I love the content despite it being dreadfully slow.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Andy

    Awful. This is the tale of King Arthur. But for me it was the tale of 5,000 random knights killing each other and generally being assholes. There was no over-arching plot to this. Each book is basically a scene were one thing or another happens, but there is no series continuity. There is no character growth besides them growing physically older. Even when the characters realize their actions were wrong, it's too late because now they're dead since almost every duel was to the death. Honestly, Ar Awful. This is the tale of King Arthur. But for me it was the tale of 5,000 random knights killing each other and generally being assholes. There was no over-arching plot to this. Each book is basically a scene were one thing or another happens, but there is no series continuity. There is no character growth besides them growing physically older. Even when the characters realize their actions were wrong, it's too late because now they're dead since almost every duel was to the death. Honestly, Arthur was a jerk. How do people even like him or his knights if this is how he acts all the time?? I am not looking forward to volume two.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Marie

    Have I read enough medieval romance to be able to judge this work with its contemporaries? I'm gonna go on a limb and say "Sorta." There were a few frustrations with this work. First that the preface said that there is an earlier manuscript of it that they didn't use, so I'm all "Wait, why give us the later if there's an earlier? Why tell us about it just to tease us?" The translator's notes tended to be next to useless, leaving confusing words undefined and telling me for the fifth time that gul Have I read enough medieval romance to be able to judge this work with its contemporaries? I'm gonna go on a limb and say "Sorta." There were a few frustrations with this work. First that the preface said that there is an earlier manuscript of it that they didn't use, so I'm all "Wait, why give us the later if there's an earlier? Why tell us about it just to tease us?" The translator's notes tended to be next to useless, leaving confusing words undefined and telling me for the fifth time that gules means red, which, dude, I know. Also don't need a definition for "Seneschal", kthnx. Secondly, it reads like a summary. Malory was obviously summarizing several sources and trying to make them sort of fit together, which they don't. So there are lots of confusing bits - just how many sisters does Arthur have, for example. Many passages read like a sporting page for Jousts. Who was there, wins, losses, final results. YAWN! And when he says "Richly arrayed, as they were in those days." you just know he's omitting a nice five-stanza passage of costume description! Still, it's a lot of Arthurian backstory filled in, and I'm glad to have read it, and I'll read part two, just to complete my understanding of the Arthurian Legends as they stand.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Louis

    In my opinion, the definitive version of the Arthurian legend.I have read 6 different ones and I always come back to this one.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Nick

    2.5 stars

  8. 5 out of 5

    Joanna

    SO INSANELY DULL and repetitive that it's curing my chronic insomnia. I'm not sure I can get through it, it's just making me so angry...as a genuine fan of King Arthur and his knights and adventures, I'm sorely disappointed in Malory. The earliest Arthurian literature is a thousand times more imaginative than this. I don't think I'll ever understand why it became an instant classic. BLECH. SO INSANELY DULL and repetitive that it's curing my chronic insomnia. I'm not sure I can get through it, it's just making me so angry...as a genuine fan of King Arthur and his knights and adventures, I'm sorely disappointed in Malory. The earliest Arthurian literature is a thousand times more imaginative than this. I don't think I'll ever understand why it became an instant classic. BLECH.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jen B

    I didn't finish. Perhaps some other time, but I found it extremely repetitive. I didn't finish. Perhaps some other time, but I found it extremely repetitive.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Carolina Casas

    It was a great joy to read this again. Revisiting the medieval and renaissance eras are my favorite things to do. As a tutor I get to do it constantly. Re-reading this reminded me how important it is to remember our history, to go back to the past and see what inspired our favorite filmmakers and fantasy authors. Since its inception, so many authors have tried to do the same; few have lived up to what Malory created. He was not the first to write about King Arthur and his knights of the round tab It was a great joy to read this again. Revisiting the medieval and renaissance eras are my favorite things to do. As a tutor I get to do it constantly. Re-reading this reminded me how important it is to remember our history, to go back to the past and see what inspired our favorite filmmakers and fantasy authors. Since its inception, so many authors have tried to do the same; few have lived up to what Malory created. He was not the first to write about King Arthur and his knights of the round table. Several other English authors had done the same. What distinguishes Malory is that he did he melded all of the Arthurian romances into one epic story that not only transported his audience back to a time of magic and impossibilities, but gave them something that resonated with them. At the time, the wars of the roses was going on. The country was torn between red and white -at least that is how the Tudors wanted it to be remembered. The truth is far more complicated. Nonetheless, these were the two major factions leading the conflict and initially a Yorkist, Malory like so many of his comrades became disillusioned with the current regime and cast his lot with Warwick (Edward IV, the Yorkist King, ambitious cousin) and the King's treacherous younger brother. When that didn't work, he patiently waited for his opportunity to come and when it came, he cast his lot once again with Edward's enemies. This time with the Lancastrian queen and her son, the Prince of Wales, across the narrow sea. The Lancastrian Readeption was a horrid and pathetic attempt to restore Henry VI to the throne. Henry VI was a miserable wretch at this point. The indecisive, easily-manipulated king was replaced by a witless king who had no idea what was going on. His wife and Warwick were the ones calling the shots. Seeing the bloodshed that the two houses were shedding for the sake of the crown, Malory abandoned all hope for a better tomorrow. This edition just covers the first volume. Those of you who have read all four volumes will see that in spite of his personal beliefs, Malory reserved the right to disappoint his readers by giving them a gloomy ending. Instead, the ending is bittersweet, ending with the promise of a brighter future -where Arthur would rise up from the grave to restore law and order to his sacred homeland. History is cyclical. To loosely quote what 19th century author and socialist icon, Karl Marx, said, history repeats itself, first as a tragedy and then as a farce. History certainly repeated itself in The Death of King Arthur. Arthur is seen as the chosen one by his peers; Merlin believes in him. But along the way he is met with various obstacles that hinder him from becoming the greatest king that ever lived. Although he becomes a legend, everyone around him -including him- knows that it is nothing more than illusion. This is also the first Arthurian myth that weaves all the other individual tales together, paying close attention to detail (ie, the characters' appearance, personality, and their environment). Camelot is no more violent than the promised land that both Yorkists and Lancastrians promised their countrymen they'd turn England into. The knights who vie for power, fight to protect their king or seek personal glory, are just as flawed as their king. And that is the big tragedy here, that our heroes are victims of their own hubris.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Joseph Leskey

    Just so we have no misunderstandings later, these guys [knights] are not always chivalrous. SSSSHHH, Joseph, lest they hear you and do thee smite to gain worship. Second, have things changed since those knightly times? Like back then, two knights battle for hours and wound each other nigh to the death. What do they do? I paraphrase, "I have never met me such a worshipful knight as thee, therefore let us fight no longer under oath to the end of our lives, and I love thee the better, even as if tho Just so we have no misunderstandings later, these guys [knights] are not always chivalrous. SSSSHHH, Joseph, lest they hear you and do thee smite to gain worship. Second, have things changed since those knightly times? Like back then, two knights battle for hours and wound each other nigh to the death. What do they do? I paraphrase, "I have never met me such a worshipful knight as thee, therefore let us fight no longer under oath to the end of our lives, and I love thee the better, even as if thou were my own brother. *kiss* *weep*" Please note that somebody loving you as if you were their own brother was not of necessity a good thing. If (this condition being included in a set of a few others) they happen to get a foul sword and stupidly keep the thing, instead of, you know, chucking it in a volcano or something, they'll probably kill you by accident. MAKE SURE THEY KNOW WHAT YOUR SHIELD LOOKS LIKE AND DO NOT LEAVE HOME WITHOUT IT. AND DON'T REPLACE IT EITHER. 'Nuff said. Also, when will people ever learn not to say, "Whatsoever it is that thou ask of me, that thing is yours." Dummies. (It's not like I just called King Arthur a dummy or anything. Haven't you ever heard of generalization?) The writing and plot is pretty good, since you mentioned it. (DISCLAIMER: You may not have mentioned it.) So what did these knights do all day? Well, let me help you understand this. After I do, I'm sure you'll want to read the book forever (be warned, though: it doesn't last forever). Anyway, knightly schedule (THIS COUNTS AS REVIEWING): 1: Wake up in the castle that you were captured in. 2: Hear a mass. 3: Break your fast. 4: Get leave of Sir Whatshisname to depart his dungeons. After you tell your name under oath. 5: Go for a merry tromp. 6: Find a knight. Joust with him. Smite him from his horse. Lightly void your horse. Fight for two hours. Wound him wondrously sore. Worship achieved. Go your merry way. 7: Repeat 6 indefinitely. 8: Find a damsel. Go on her quest. Bear her incessant rebukes. She'll say she's sorry later. 9: Repeat 8 indefinitely. Prepare to do anything listed on this schedule during aforementioned quest. 10: Fight your brother by accident. Kill him. Get killed. Tell him that you killed him and he you. Make great dole. Maidens will come and pity you. And you'll get buried with a fancy tombstone, so yay. 11: Go after some knight who stole someone's wife. Or (unfortunately) be the knight that stole someone's wife. In the case of the former, prepare for everything to work out "well," unless if somebody dies. In the case of the latter, you never know what might happen. But your uncle will probably hate you. 12: Joust. Get worship. Smite people heavily. 13: Fight the random giant. 13: Repeat all the aforesaid. 14: Fall in love. This entails every bit of the above. 15: (Unfortunately) repeat 14 a couple times if you feel like it. There is the average knight's schedule. And that's the book. Now, in order to honor these chivalrous and full noble knights, I may have made a couple grammatical or typographical errors. They would have too.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Lisa (Harmonybites)

    This is the first volume of Le Morte d'Arthur and shouldn't be seen as the first book of a trilogy, just the first half, and not meant to be read alone. I agree with the reviewer who said this is not for the faint of heart, and few general readers are going to find this a great read. If you're looking for an absorbing, entertaining read with characters you can relate to and root for, you're absolutely, positively in the wrong place. Read instead Arthurian novels such as T.H. White's The Once and This is the first volume of Le Morte d'Arthur and shouldn't be seen as the first book of a trilogy, just the first half, and not meant to be read alone. I agree with the reviewer who said this is not for the faint of heart, and few general readers are going to find this a great read. If you're looking for an absorbing, entertaining read with characters you can relate to and root for, you're absolutely, positively in the wrong place. Read instead Arthurian novels such as T.H. White's The Once and Future King or Mary Stewart's Merlin Trilogy. There are countless other such novels inspired by this material worth reading, and I've read a lot of them. But I did find it interesting at times going through this, one of the ur-texts as it were of Arthurian legend. There are other, earlier works of Arthurian literature: Geoffrey of Monmouth's The History of the Kings of Britain (1136), Chrétien de Troyes's Arthurian Romances in the 12th century and Wolfram von Eschenbach's Parzival in the 13th century are among the most notable. But Malory drew from several sources, so much so he's often described more as the "compiler" than the author of the work. I own a edition in two volumes that comes close to 1,000 pages. So this is an exhaustive resource of all sorts of facets of the legend. The story of Tristram and Iseult is here, for instance. And this is a medieval work, so it's imbued with its assumptions and attitudes. Obviously a source of outrage to some reviewers, and even by the standards of the time, comparing this to how women are treated in say Boccaccio's Decameron and Chaucer's Canterbury Tales--well, women don't come off well here. Misogyny abounds. And knights are held up as paragons who commit a lot of heinous acts and just plain WTF. A lot is repetitive and a slog--as one reviewer put it too much is "joust, joust, joust." And this was written about half-way between Chaucer and Shakespeare. With the spelling regularized it's quite readable, much more so than unmodernized Chaucer. But with those that choose to preserve the archaic words, that means wading through words such as "hight" (is called) and "mickle" (much). And there's just so much that can be excused by, well, "it's the times"--I found plenty of medieval writers who were wonderful reads, and just plain more humane: Dante, Boccaccio, Chaucer. I can't see Malory as their equal--not remotely. But as a fan of Arthurian literature and someone fascinated by the Middle Ages, this did from time to time have its fascinations.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Morganu

    One of the best books on Arthurian literature, Thomas Malory gives us the sad ending, and by the other side the possible return of The once and the future King.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Holly Baker

    Merlin fully lied to me about what to expect from the Aurthurian legends. Merlin might be borderline ridiculous and I knew its interpretation of the legends was loose at best but a more accurate representation of the day to day life of your average Knight of the Table Round can be found in Monty Python's the holy grail. These blokes speak like the overly emotion men of victorian era horror but worse, they are all so extra. It's a dangerous business to be a Knight and a bloody high turn-over rate Merlin fully lied to me about what to expect from the Aurthurian legends. Merlin might be borderline ridiculous and I knew its interpretation of the legends was loose at best but a more accurate representation of the day to day life of your average Knight of the Table Round can be found in Monty Python's the holy grail. These blokes speak like the overly emotion men of victorian era horror but worse, they are all so extra. It's a dangerous business to be a Knight and a bloody high turn-over rate for a seat at the round table because at least 10 of the 150 will be killed before the next Pentacost everytime. Also these knights need to take their helmets off before they launch into pointless fights about whether Dame Guinevere or Queen Margawse is the fairer jaut to check they are fighting someone they are related too. Tristram is such a messy bitch as well. Like what's he got against telling people his name. 'Sir at this time ye shall not know my name' is his standard line, and then he's fuming when other poeple let slip who he is. And imagine going to Ireland where you're a wanted man and changing your name to Tramtrist to fool them into not killing you while you go get healed from Ireland's first attempt to kill you AND IT ACTUALLY WORKING! Also Nimue trapping Merlin in a rock and leaving him there to die to escape his persistent sexual advances is such a power move. Conflicted about whether to bother with the second volume because on the one hand I can get more Tristram being chaos incarnate but on the other hand the writing style makes me want to pluck my eyes out it's so repetative and simplistic all these knights doing 'such marvelous deeds at arms for to increase their worship that all men had great wonder and marvelled at their prowess'.

  15. 4 out of 5

    su

    it's very difficult to rate a compendium of reconstructed arthurian legends like this. what malory attempted to do has shaped so much of our current perception of these legends and has been seen as the basis for most to follow in english, the fact that such an effort was taken in the first place is commendable. but also i think it's fair to say for most readers, the volume 2 will prove more interesting because both the Grail Quest and the whole Launcelot-Guenever bit are there. the separation in it's very difficult to rate a compendium of reconstructed arthurian legends like this. what malory attempted to do has shaped so much of our current perception of these legends and has been seen as the basis for most to follow in english, the fact that such an effort was taken in the first place is commendable. but also i think it's fair to say for most readers, the volume 2 will prove more interesting because both the Grail Quest and the whole Launcelot-Guenever bit are there. the separation into two volumes was probably to make it less intimidating to pick up, but i believe it is a great starting point for arthuriana. as for this volume, it is more disconnected with too many quests of too many knights to count, but i think the earlier tales set the tone and acts as a world building device.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Ethan Hulbert

    Interesting that this and the Malleus Maleficarum were published in the same decade. Well, interesting to me, at least. Le Morte d'Arthur is a timeless classic and this version is pretty much THE version. Hard not to enjoy it, or, well, maybe it's easy for others not to enjoy it, but as an Arthurian fan, it's totally my jam. Interesting that this and the Malleus Maleficarum were published in the same decade. Well, interesting to me, at least. Le Morte d'Arthur is a timeless classic and this version is pretty much THE version. Hard not to enjoy it, or, well, maybe it's easy for others not to enjoy it, but as an Arthurian fan, it's totally my jam.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Rebekah

    So many fabulous words and phrases I need to add to my everyday conversations!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Scott

    I'm glad Penguin* published this book in two volumes, so that I can give four stars to the first half (which is a little generous, if anything), and five to volume two. Taken as a whole, an amazing piece of literature, and perhaps the definitive version of the Arthurian story. While there is a continuous plot to the entire saga (although not always in chronological order), it's broken up into various nearly stand-alone sections, each with its own heroes and storylines. I found that most of the w I'm glad Penguin* published this book in two volumes, so that I can give four stars to the first half (which is a little generous, if anything), and five to volume two. Taken as a whole, an amazing piece of literature, and perhaps the definitive version of the Arthurian story. While there is a continuous plot to the entire saga (although not always in chronological order), it's broken up into various nearly stand-alone sections, each with its own heroes and storylines. I found that most of the weaker stories appeared in Volume 1, parts of which were little more than long sequences of various knights smiting each other, in which both the action and the language are repetitive. The great character-driven stories like the Tristram saga and the story of Launcelot and Guinevere appear later. Part 1 is still enjoyable, though, and contains some good tales which might be unfamiliar to the average reader. Additionally, some of the events in Part 1 are crucial to what comes later. The thing I enjoyed most about Le Morte d'Arthur include it's complex and realistic characters (while the heroes may have superhuman strength and endurance, they exhibit realistic personality flaws and believable motivations). I also liked the way the individual tales were linked together into a cohesive unit, with events and decisions causing repercussions that ripple along throughout the rest of the saga. The female characters aren't always very well-written, which is perhaps not surprising given the age and theme of the work, with most of them falling into the general categories of damsel in distress, conniving temptress, mischievous sorceress, sacred virgin, or unfaithful wife. But there are some good surprises here, including stories in which the damsel rescues the knight, rather than the other way around, and there are a few female characters with some depth, such as Maledisant. The other thing that bothered me were the spoilers and anticlimaxes--the places in which Malory gives away the ending (or an important part of it) midway through the story, or else at the end of an episode casually mentions that our hero later gets slain by so-and-so. These sorts of things would never fly today, but of course Malory was writing at a different time, for a different sort of audience (one that would likely already be familiar with these stories, having heard other versions of them). *I didn't actually read the Penguin version, so I'm not sure where Volume 1 ends and Volume 2 begins. This review covers the text through "The Tale of Sir Gareth," with the Tristram saga included in my Volume 2 review.

  19. 5 out of 5

    John Keats

    Bad to start off with a lie regarding a book about honor and chivalry? I'd read this before. But it's a book that keeps on giving, in part because of the style, the broad strokes of character and story that carve out essences or habits but leave you a lot of space to muse on what people are about. Is Gawain a lout? I say yes, mostly, because when he's rushed, or confused, or outnumbered, he usually chooses the selfish or easy way out. In contrast, Launcelot never does. At this point, in Volume 1 Bad to start off with a lie regarding a book about honor and chivalry? I'd read this before. But it's a book that keeps on giving, in part because of the style, the broad strokes of character and story that carve out essences or habits but leave you a lot of space to muse on what people are about. Is Gawain a lout? I say yes, mostly, because when he's rushed, or confused, or outnumbered, he usually chooses the selfish or easy way out. In contrast, Launcelot never does. At this point, in Volume 1, his love for Arthur's Guenever is abstract, completely ideal, and that, to me, is the marvel of the book. It starts, more or less, with a rape aided by Merlin's magic, a rape that allows King Arthur's Camelot to come into existence, and we're immediately presented with the need to impose something higher on base lusts or natural desires. Launcelot is the reknowned example of adhering to an ideal, but in a marvelous passage where he almost goes to war defending Guenever's beauty over Gawain's mother's, we realize that it's impossible ever to forge a kingdom or a commonwealth on a shared ideal; everyone sees everything differently. The relativism we so cherish these days, alas, was always a rot at the heart of every beautiful thing. That's probably the reason for that pesky Questing Beast that keeps rolling through these forests, chased by a knight guided by a quest--just an arbitrary game for meaning--to remind us of the hunger and the natural chaos at the root of all we do. So we know that Launcelot must fall in Volume 2, even if we haven't been here before, because at this point he appears to be inhumanly devoted. Tristram calls someone, at the end of this volume, a "natural knight," for doing a merciful deed, suggesting that in the complicated dynamics of the old nature versus nurture debate, there is some kind of guiding essence that determines how you behave in the chaotic moments, in "hot deeds," as Launcelot says, when he apologizes for wounding Tristram in a contest (and we get a hint of how he'll betray King Arthur in his passion for Queen Guenever). Again, old stories, old beliefs, but as provocative as ever. (By the way, didn't mean to put Gawain on the far end of the continuum of lout versus hero. He's not the lowest; King Mark might take that prize.)

  20. 5 out of 5

    Agnieszka

    Although these stories are collected into a book, this is not a novel, and it's just Part 1. On the other hand the stories are stand alone, so I think I can review it a bit. The first part is all about King Arthur's lineage and them him consolidating his kingdom. It's not that exciting because Merlin just tells King Arthur what to do and he does it and everything goes well. Everyone does "marvelous deeds of arms" and is a "passing good knight". I don't suggest skipping it because it gets you used Although these stories are collected into a book, this is not a novel, and it's just Part 1. On the other hand the stories are stand alone, so I think I can review it a bit. The first part is all about King Arthur's lineage and them him consolidating his kingdom. It's not that exciting because Merlin just tells King Arthur what to do and he does it and everything goes well. Everyone does "marvelous deeds of arms" and is a "passing good knight". I don't suggest skipping it because it gets you used to the style and rhythm of the story. I do suggest sticking with it even if you find the start a little boring. After King Arthur's court is established things get more interesting. The various books choose particular knights or groups of knights to follow and we get their adventures. Like I said in an in-progress review, the book is old and written in a style that takes a while to get used to. But it's not so strange that you can't get used to. I found that when I had trouble following what was happening, reading out loud helped. There's a lot of repetition and formulaic phrasing which feels strange reading silently but as soon as I read it out loud makes sense. I think this stuff was meant to be read out loud and listened to. People seem to get annoyed about various aspects of this book, such as the archaic morality, or the archaic writing style. I don't know what to say to that. The book is not the kind of book you're probably used to reading. I think as a modern reader of an old text, it's my duty to take the text as it is and understand it from its own point of view. I can also view it in a meta context, in that it tells you things about the writers that the writers may not have intended to tell you about them. I think that's fascinating. The stories are also good and often delightfully weird. And the archaic language has its own rule and rhythm that give their own kind of pleasure, too. I've awarded the fist volume five stars because I enjoyed it and because I think it's an important and influential piece of writing that is also a historical document (not about King Arthur. About the people who told the stories about King Arthur).

  21. 5 out of 5

    Set

    Let's meet all the knights from the round table- Arthur: the king, general and knight married to Guinevere, whose father sent the round table and never said where he got it from. Tristan: is an old knight that is famous for running away with his uncle's fiancee, Isolde (Tristan and Isolde). He is a good harp player. Lancelot: The best and most famous knight. He fell in love with Guinevere. Galahad: Lancelot's bastard son. He is virtuous and sweet in all his knightly manner. Gareth: Gawain's youngest Let's meet all the knights from the round table- Arthur: the king, general and knight married to Guinevere, whose father sent the round table and never said where he got it from. Tristan: is an old knight that is famous for running away with his uncle's fiancee, Isolde (Tristan and Isolde). He is a good harp player. Lancelot: The best and most famous knight. He fell in love with Guinevere. Galahad: Lancelot's bastard son. He is virtuous and sweet in all his knightly manner. Gareth: Gawain's youngest brother that was devoted to Lancelot and was killed by him while rescuing Guinevere from burning at the stake. Gawain: Oldest of the Orkney boys (warrior clan), and nephew to Arthur. He is brave and tough but has a big temperament. Lamorak: Killed Gawain's father and moved in with his mother, so naturally Gawain killed him. Gaheris: Another Orkney, and Gawin's middle brother and served as his squire in his early years. Bors de Ganis: Arthur's cousin, he is gentle although big and strong. Percival: He is a mama's boy and was pammered at home delicately with never any talk of knight, fighting, and swords. He is innocent and a bit simple. Bedivere: is one of Arthur's first knights which stayed with him to the very end. Kay: Arthur's older foster brother which he served as a squire in his early years. Geraint: is a prince of a neighboring kingdom and is not interesting at all. Love this book, it has a certain charm to it that you don't find anymore. Lots of adventure, jousting, knight challenges, dragon fighting, fair ladies/damsels in distress, magical warfare, knight code of conduct/chivalry, etc. The medieval stories have a veil of the many mysteries of a world in those dark but simpler times filled with romance and adventure of the unknown.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Shannon

    I'm currently going through an obsessive Arthurian phase and what better to feed my passion than the first English print of the legend. Now, yes, this does mean it happens to be written in a modernised version of Old English (and yes I was a bit irritated when I found Peter Ackroyd's Modern English version the day before I finished) but I think this adds a certain charm to the tale. I certainly discovered that I regret the loss of some words and phrases from the English language (eg, anon, wonde I'm currently going through an obsessive Arthurian phase and what better to feed my passion than the first English print of the legend. Now, yes, this does mean it happens to be written in a modernised version of Old English (and yes I was a bit irritated when I found Peter Ackroyd's Modern English version the day before I finished) but I think this adds a certain charm to the tale. I certainly discovered that I regret the loss of some words and phrases from the English language (eg, anon, wonderly wroth, orgulous, etc) and I intend very much to bring them back into use! Despite the sometimes baffling language barrier (I recommend keeping a dictionary handy as I found the footnotes to often be useless, defining words that I could work out yet ignoring words that don't even make it into my dictionary) I really enjoyed reading this and getting the first-hand Arthur experience. There is jousting galore, plenty of smoting and buffeting, rules of knighthood, adventures to be had and did I mention jousting galore? It was really great to learn all about the original legends and I would recommend this to any Arthur fan. I will most definitely be picking up volume 2 soon.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Miriam Cihodariu

    I was familiar with the Arthurian legends only from more recent-day sources and retellings. In anticipation of my extended trip through Scotland, I wanted to go closer to the sources and read an older collection of narratives regarding these characters. Sir Malory's stories did not let me down. While they are a bit harder to follow compared to modern English prose, the wealth of detail regarding the entire host of characters (and plenty of minor characters I hadn't heard of before) is fascinatin I was familiar with the Arthurian legends only from more recent-day sources and retellings. In anticipation of my extended trip through Scotland, I wanted to go closer to the sources and read an older collection of narratives regarding these characters. Sir Malory's stories did not let me down. While they are a bit harder to follow compared to modern English prose, the wealth of detail regarding the entire host of characters (and plenty of minor characters I hadn't heard of before) is fascinating.

  24. 4 out of 5

    E. G.

    Introduction Further Reading Editor's Note --Le Morte D'Arthur - Volume I Notes to Volume I Glossary of Proper Nouns Glossary Introduction Further Reading Editor's Note --Le Morte D'Arthur - Volume I Notes to Volume I Glossary of Proper Nouns Glossary

  25. 4 out of 5

    Ebster Davis

    For a book called "The Death of Arthur" it doesn't really have as much of him as I was expecting. After the beginning bit that talks about his conception and how he came to be king, most of this book has to do with the exploits of the knights in his court. You see, the knights are so inspired that Arthur (in his exhaled position as high king of all england) will still do the comparatively lowly work a knight. And they get inspired to do great feats to prove their worth. A lot of these knights, a For a book called "The Death of Arthur" it doesn't really have as much of him as I was expecting. After the beginning bit that talks about his conception and how he came to be king, most of this book has to do with the exploits of the knights in his court. You see, the knights are so inspired that Arthur (in his exhaled position as high king of all england) will still do the comparatively lowly work a knight. And they get inspired to do great feats to prove their worth. A lot of these knights, and the various fair (and foul) maidens associated with them, I was previously unfamiliar with. (The whole tale of Tor I'd never heard about, I'd heard of Tristan and Isolde but I didn't know anything about them other than that they were lovers. Turns out their whole affair is very involved and kind of epicly tragic.) I knew just in passing that Arthur had other sisters and but he actually has a bunch of nephews other than Mordred, and seems to be on good terms with most of them (Their moms not so much tho...) I've heard of The Lady of the Lake, and I always thought of her as a kind of benevolent entity. Turns out there's a whole bunch of 'Ladies of the Lake' and the main one is actually quite manipulative and sinister. Most adaptions of arthurian legends that I've seen seem to make out Morgan (or Morgause...when they're not the same person) as the mastermind of Arthur's downfall. In this book, it seems more like fate is the force behind it. The stories themselves read like fairytales and sometimes they're a bit convoluted and hard to follow. Many words (like "good" and "passing fair") have a very different connotation in this story than in modern language. Also because this saga is being told retrospectively, it's hard to understand who knows what and when they know it. (view spoiler)[ Did Arthur know Morgan was his sister? If he did then why didn't he just target her instead of killing every friggin' baby in the kingdom who was born on the same day? Did Arthur know about Gwenivere/Lancelot? Cuz like EVERYONE knows about them, even random people Lancelot meets on his journey and would be really oblivious of him if he didn't! (hide spoiler)] The story is about as misogynistic as you'd expect a book written 600-ish years ago to be, it actually gets pretty laughable at times. Random women are generally magic users, and they are also generally evil...unless they fall in live with a knight (view spoiler)[ Or Merlin has a crush on them (hide spoiler)] then they're OK. At one point in the story this knight comes across a group of women who are desecrating another knight's shield. And when he asks the women 'Why are you doing that?' the women are all 'the knight who owns this shield hates women and he majorly dissed us!' And the knight goes ' *tisk* Oh I'm sure he can't be all bad!' Then he finds the other knight cowering somewhere and asks him why he hates the women, and what it ends up amounting to is 'they intimidate me!' and of course the women are nasty magic users (because what else would a woman do with magic besides intimidate men?) and the knight is totally validated in everything. ^^Something tells me we're missing a piece of the story here... I definitely recommend reading an annotated version, unless you're really familiar with old-timey language or you're up for a challenge, when you read this book. Notes: Sir Malory frequently references "The French Book" from which he has translated all of these stories. I know that there's a lot to the evolution of these stories that have been lost to history, but now I'm wondering how much of it is the result of old-french stereotypes for people who lived in the british isles?

  26. 4 out of 5

    Gary Patella

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. While this book has expanded my knowledge of the legend of King Arthur, it also became extremely monotonous in many places. The book begins by discussing Arthur's father, Uther Pendragon, and Merlin. Uther is attracted to Igraine,the Duchess of Cornwall. Merlin casts a spell to disguise Uther as her husband. He shows up pretending to be her husband, and basically has unconsentual sex with her since she thinks it's her husband. She gets pregnant, her husband dies, and Uther marries her. He asks a While this book has expanded my knowledge of the legend of King Arthur, it also became extremely monotonous in many places. The book begins by discussing Arthur's father, Uther Pendragon, and Merlin. Uther is attracted to Igraine,the Duchess of Cornwall. Merlin casts a spell to disguise Uther as her husband. He shows up pretending to be her husband, and basically has unconsentual sex with her since she thinks it's her husband. She gets pregnant, her husband dies, and Uther marries her. He asks about her pregnancy, and she is ashamed to say that the baby belongs to her deceased husband. Then Uther basically says "Suprise! It was actually me! I tricked you into having sex with me!" And Igraine reacts by basically saying "Awesome! I'm so happy you borderline raped me!" The baby is born and is Arthur. Merlin gives guidance along the way, but becomes obsessed with a woman named Nimue. He harasses her and stalks her constantly and won't leave her alone. Finally she finds a spell to keep Merlin trapped inside a rock. Arthur becomes the king, establishes the knights of the round table, and has to do battle with various armies to establish his rule and expand his kingdom. This is all basically the beginning of the book. Then is becomes extremely tedious and repetitive. Example: Story of Knight A Knight A goes out on an adventure and comes to a brook. Knight B is there and says "No knight passes this brook unless he jousts with me." The two knights make themselves ready and let run their horses with all their might, and rashed together like thunder. Either knight smote the other passing sore. They rashed together again and smote each other so sore that horse and man fell both to the earth. Then they dressed their shields and drew their swords, and either knight smote other in the midst of the shield, and then struck many blows. and either wounded the other passing sore. After two hours of fighting, Knight A smote Knight B with three strokes on the helm and was victorious. This same summary is repeated over and over and over and .... you get the point. Knight C, D, E, F, G et cetera all have similar encounters and the story of the encounter is pretty much the same as every other encounter of every other knight's story. Every now and then a damosel appears at the castle to ask for a knight to do some quest. Some knight accepts and the woman hurls insults at him the whole time and then apologizes after he proves himself. Also, if the woman is asked her name at the castle, she might say something stupid like "I'm not going to tell you my name right now. Instead, after 6 months, I'll be waiting by some oak tree a few miles away. Meet me there in six months time and then I will tell you my name." Instead of a normal reaction like "What?" or "Why?" or "This chick is insane", the response to such insanity is always "This is well said." Yes, there are some stories that deviate from what I wrote here which can be entertaining. But by and large, the entire book is composed of what is written here.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kely

    I read this because there are some modern retellings of the Arthur stories that I thoroughly enjoyed, and I was curious to see what those were being based off of. In the end, as far as reading for pleasure goes, I think I would still choose the modern retellings, but I don't regret perusing over Malory's version. What struck me from the very first sentence was the language, which was nothing like I have ever read before. I make no claims to be grammatically correct, (in fact there is a red squig I read this because there are some modern retellings of the Arthur stories that I thoroughly enjoyed, and I was curious to see what those were being based off of. In the end, as far as reading for pleasure goes, I think I would still choose the modern retellings, but I don't regret perusing over Malory's version. What struck me from the very first sentence was the language, which was nothing like I have ever read before. I make no claims to be grammatically correct, (in fact there is a red squiggly line telling me that "retelling" is not a word but I am deliberately ignoring it, and I know my first sentence ends with a preposition) but this book read like the grammar had been through a tumble-dry-low cycle, with weird words like "wroth" peppered here and there. If you haven't read it, please don't think it's like trying to slog through Shakespeare, because Le Morte is a very different style of "old-timey" which I found tremendously easier than Shakespeare, even if it is odd. Maybe it's the little spark of lit nerd in me, but I found the book's language hilarious. Moving on, (because there was more than just words, there also happened to be characters and a plot) I discovered what material the retellers had to work with. There is plenty of action (so many sword fights!) and there is plenty of drama, (so many damsels!) but I found it hard to take any of it seriously. Many of the knights took one look at a beautiful damsel and swore undying love to her before they even knew her name. Damsels were expected to marry strong handsome knights because they were strong handsome knights. Knights challenged other knights to mortal combat because...they were both knights. And if a man was of noble birth he must be a good person, and if a knight does something, no matter how evil, for the love of a lady, then it's okay. I was not offended by reading any of this, it just seemed silly. In conclusion, the way to enjoy this book, for me at least, is to not take it seriously. If you're a reader who enjoys laughing at ridiculous situations and characters, you might like this. If you're a reader who enjoys "something that makes you think," you might find this disappointing ("disappointing" has two "p's"? Really?). I would equate this to watching comedic cartoons, which, when you stop to think about them, are not really great masterpieces, but are still fun. The great part about Le Morte is that you can experience all that and still look smart and cultured because you are reading something from the 15th century.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Barry Haworth

    It is some years since read Malory, but I was prompted to revisit him by a recent production of Spamalot at a local theatre and managed to find my copy. Malory's version of the legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table is probably the definitive version of the story if such a thing exists. In this, the first volume, we have the account of the birth of Arthur, his coming into his kingdom, starting with the episode of the Sword in the Stone and continuing through various wars as he It is some years since read Malory, but I was prompted to revisit him by a recent production of Spamalot at a local theatre and managed to find my copy. Malory's version of the legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table is probably the definitive version of the story if such a thing exists. In this, the first volume, we have the account of the birth of Arthur, his coming into his kingdom, starting with the episode of the Sword in the Stone and continuing through various wars as he establishes himself, then the formation of the Knights of the Round table and the various adventures of the likes of Sir Lancelot, Sir Gareth and Sir Tristram. As ever the language of the book - Malory's wonderful fifteenth century English - is wonderful to read; just recent enough to be understandable, but having a music all of its own. I did find myself wondering abut the practicalities of the story. The death toll in the various wars fought by Arthur is huge, as are the number of knights who are casually killed along the way during the different quests. Some knights struck me as not being particularly nice to know (Sir Tristram in particular struck me as a being a a bit of a ratbag), and some of the stories seemed to repeat themselves - for example the story of Beaumains in book VII was very similar to that of La Cote Male Taile in book IX. Along the way there were assorted amusing bits, such as in book VI chapter XI, when Lancelot lets himself out a window using a sheet (thus demonstrating how old some tropes are), or in book IX, chapter XXXIX when a certain knight, whose lover (sorry, his paramour) leaves him for another knight and takes his dog, chases after her so he can get his dog back. Somewhat long and rambling, but an enjoyable place to visit.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Derek Davis

    I like this edition, which stays with (or goes back to) printer William Caxton's vocabulary rather than trying to modernize. I learned a lot of new old words, and it's good to keep the online Morte d'Arthur dictionary handy to refer to. The English is almost exactly equidistant between Chaucer and Shakespeare, with Caxton busy solidifying it. (Interesting to note that Mallory always writes "spear," never "lance.") Mallory hews to formulae for nearly all battles, which last either two hours or all I like this edition, which stays with (or goes back to) printer William Caxton's vocabulary rather than trying to modernize. I learned a lot of new old words, and it's good to keep the online Morte d'Arthur dictionary handy to refer to. The English is almost exactly equidistant between Chaucer and Shakespeare, with Caxton busy solidifying it. (Interesting to note that Mallory always writes "spear," never "lance.") Mallory hews to formulae for nearly all battles, which last either two hours or all afternoon and feature the loser being knocked backwards off his horse and/or the horse itself being knocked over. Yet the loser is seldom killed unless out of vengeance or perception of lacking chivalry. Characters meet by chance in the woods but can't find each other when they need to. Knights cannot recognize each other except by their emblems, so there's some unintentionally funny shenanigans when they end up fighting the wrong guy. Woman are often (mostly) nasty or witchlike, and the heroes are not consistently chivalrous. Most fights result simply from the testosteronic need to challenge whoever rides by. The losers often bear a lasting grudge – indeed, all grudges are carried for years, except when two enemies fight, unknown to each other, and form affection stemming from their prowess or common family/kingdom ties. Mallory mentions French sources without stating which ones, usually referencing only "the book," though presumably there were several. It's odd that the Arthurian stories first became popular in France rather than England. Did I like the collection? Somehow I did, though hard to say why. On to Volume 2.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Britt Halliburton

    I am convinced that Malory wasn't a very good writer. There is a lot of room for forgiveness, but I am certain that, even for the time, Malory isn't particularly good at relaying a story. There is the understanding that he is essentially compiling a lot of information and translating, rather than writing firsthand, but this reads like a child's imaginary game with action figures. The fights are repetitive with the same actions being taken over and over. I am certain I am not supposed to be laughi I am convinced that Malory wasn't a very good writer. There is a lot of room for forgiveness, but I am certain that, even for the time, Malory isn't particularly good at relaying a story. There is the understanding that he is essentially compiling a lot of information and translating, rather than writing firsthand, but this reads like a child's imaginary game with action figures. The fights are repetitive with the same actions being taken over and over. I am certain I am not supposed to be laughing at this, but during one 'epic' battle early in the novel, several pages are taken up with a knight stealing the horse of another knight, who then steals another knights horse, who in turn steals another knights horse, etc. This goes on for pages. It's like the entire army swapped horses one after another. I almost facepalmed, it was so cringy. And yet, it is crucial reading for any Arthurian fan. There's plenty of great stuff hidden behind the frustrating writing style with a lot of crazy stories and bizarre characters.

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