Merrimon Book Reviews

"Sir Mordred" by H. J. Ford, from King Arthur: The Tales of the Round Table by Andrew Lang, 1902

From Medieval Book Reviews
The Legend of the King
The Legend of the King by Gerald Morris
by Gerald Morris

Outstanding Arthurian retelling for all ages

In the tenth and final book of The Squire's Tales, Gerald Morris recounts the familiar story of the end of King Arthur's kingdom.  As in the original source material, Mordred's treachery and the adultery of Guinevere lead the kingdom into a crisis which becomes the downfall of the kingdom itself.  Gerald Morris brilliantly brings forth the Arthurian stories to a new generation of younger readers and THE LEGEND OF THE KING is no exception.  Gerald Morris remains faithful to the medieval source material while also using his imagination to explore the timeless story with vivid details that bring the story alive in new ways.  Squire Terence, now a knight, becomes the witness of the the Arthurian world.  Through Terence eyes, readers view the Arthurian world with a new perspective, a perspective filled with humor, practicality and a sense of honor that comes from the fellowship rather than fossilized, formal chivalric codes.  Gerald Morris brings the Arthurian world alive with an active vibrancy.  Although set in a historic time far away, the issues that face the characters are dynamic and relevant.

Darker than previous books in the series, Gerald Morris balances the bleakness of the end of the story with the humor that precedes the unraveling of the end, an opening left in the other world, a focus on friendship and honor in the midst of mistakes and finally with an opening to the gift of stories themselves to those that come after.  Indeed, in returning to the story itself, Gerald Morris pays an awesome tribute to the timelessness of the Arthurian story, a story retold throughout generations, a tradition to which The Squire's Tale itself rightfully and brilliantly belongs.

Although THE LEGEND OF THE KING and the series are marketed for young readers, THE LEGEND OF THE KING should be marketed as a book for adults as well.  Although the author's stated purpose is to bring the Arthurian legends to new generations, THE LEGEND OF THE KING is also a book to be treasured by all Arthurian enthusiasts.  Whether or not you have read Malory's tale or the French Vulgate Death of King Arthur, the romances or the epics, in the original languages or in translation, THE LEGEND OF THE KING is an absolute must for all medievalists.  Gerald Morris's retelling of the tales expands on familiar areas of the tales, giving more details and insights into the characters and the events while also adding new areas for discovery.  Faithfulness to the source material alongside the author's imaginative innovations make THE LEGEND OF THE KING truly brilliant!  THE LEGEND OF THE KING is an excellent choice for all ages precisely because the author does not sacrifice the story for marketing demographics.  Medievalists, however, take special note ---  Gerald Morris's tales might remind you, as they did to this reader, once again of the original power of medieval literature.   Despite centuries of retelling, the Arthurian world comes alive anew in Gerald Morris' tales.  Outstanding!

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children (September 13, 2010)
Reading Level: Ages 9-12
Series: The Squire's Tales
Previous books in the series: The Squire's Tale (1), The Squire, His Knight and His Lady (2), The Savage Damsel and the Dwarf (3),  Parsifal's Page (4), The Ballad of Sir Dinaden (5), The Princess, The Drone and the Dung-Cart Knight (6), The Lioness and Her Knight (7), The Quest of the Fair Unknown (8), The Squire's Quest (9)

Reviewed by Merrimon, Medieval Book Reviews
Review Courtesy of Amazon Vine
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