Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Tristan and Iseult” as Want to Read:
Tristan and Iseult
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

Tristan and Iseult

3.59 of 5 stars 3.59  ·  rating details  ·  451 ratings  ·  45 reviews
Tristan defeats Ireland's greatest warrior and gains the friendship of his uncle, the King of Cornwall, who entrusts him with a very special mission: to sail the seas in search of a queen.
Paperback, Sunburst Book, 168 pages
Published September 1st 1991 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) (first published 1971)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Tristan and Iseult, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Tristan and Iseult

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 812)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Courtney Johnston
I started writing a review of this retelling of the sad, beautiful story of Tristan and Iseult. And then the review turned into my own retelling. And then it turned into something that I didn't feel quite up to sharing with the world. And so.

If you need the bare outlines of the story, here it is. The story of King Marc, Tristan and Iseult underpins that of Arthur, Guinevere and Lancelot. Sutcliff's retelling is romantic, stately, heartbreaking, classical, shot through with the occasional dart o...more
Debra Williams
I first read this book when I was ten or eleven. I used to walk to our public library once a week with my sister(s), and I spent much of my summers reading. I always had an intense interest in mythology -- especially anything to do with the King Arthur Legends. Because I was an advanced reader, I had a good grasp of the story. If you are a teen with a good vocabulary I highly recommend this book; even for an adult that wants to know the Tristan/Iseult story (without the addition of the love poti...more
Oct 25, 2011 Joan rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: I suppose folk tale lovers.
I was very disappointed in this. The women come off as manipulative and mean, and the men as meaning well people who are pansies in their women's hands. Stipulated, Tristan's manipulation is obvious but presented in a very positive light. I think this may partly show the effects of the times it was written, in the 1970s. I suppose it is good that the women aren't just helpless idiots who lie around waiting for men to rescue them, but, baby, we've come a long way since then. I would love to see w...more
Kristen Landon
The way Sutcliff chose to tell this story sort of turned me off. She chose to tell it as a legend with very strict and rigid fact-telling. She did a very good job of it, and I'm sure she had her reasons for the style she chose. I just think I would have connected to the characters much more and been drawn into the story much more if she had chosen one POV character and told the story from his/her point of view with a lot more dialogue--inner and outer, and feelings.
Lady Knight
As always, Rosemary Sutcliff is brillant! I love her ability to weave a story together and make you feel as if you lived in the Dark Ages. This one, while not her best, was a very enjoyable read and was a different look at the traditional tale. It is usually strung into the Arthurian legends, but Sutcliff has extracted it and breathed life into it once again, harking back to the full legend that was around long before King Arthur.

Tristan is bored with his life as a Prince. So he begs his father...more
This book was really good. For all you fans of the movie Tristan and Isolde (I being one of them) you will find that it only bears the slightest resemblance to that, story-wise. Rosemary Sutcliff tells a really good story here though and I definitely recommend it.

Tristan is the unwanted son of a Celtic king. His mother died delivering him into the world, and it saddens the king so much to see him that his very name means "sorrow." Tristan is great at fighting, hunting, and all hero-like activit...more

This Brittanic hero, beloved of two beautiful young women both named Iseult, emerges as a valiant youth and amazing champion, despite the added medieval trappings of later versions. The star-crossed lovers are destined to love only each other, yet to be wed to other partners for the sake of Honor--critical to the code of celtic chivalry. Torn between his home in Lothian (Scotland), his heart in Cornwall, and his duty in Brittany, young Tristan craves action, adventure an...more
This is a retelling of an ancient Celtic story, that later became incorporated into Arthurian legends. The foreword puts it nicely into historical context. It's an excellent story, full of excitement, adventure, friendship, love and heroic deeds. Being older than the Arthurian stories, the characters seem freer and more human without such a strict code of chivalry. Tristan is a top notch hero, prevailing over a number of dangerous enemies. True and brave, he makes deep friendships with people wh...more
I really enjoyed Sutcliff's version of this well-known tale. I agree with her decision about leaving out the love potion; people are obviously very capable of falling in love with exactly the wrong person entirely on their own.

Taking out the love potion, though, also makes Tristan and Iseult completely responsible for their own actions, and therefore I found them to be much less sympathetic characters. They did attempt to put their feelings for each other aside, but clearly they didn't have enou...more
I expected something different from what this book turned out to be--Sutcliff grave attention to detail and realism was only partially reflected in this book. Instead she turned more towards the epic/fairy tale genre for this, not relying overmuch on timelines or setting. She was telling the story more like a bard and less like an observer.

It was well-written for all that; given that I don't particularly care for tragic romance stories, I did enjoy it. But I was also grateful that it wasn't ter...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Zach Vowles
Classic love-triangle, good read for a classic, but wouldn't go out of my way to recommend it.
Ali Isaac
One of my favourite books of all time, it was given to me as a birthday present as a child. Not only is it beautifully and almost lyrically written, but it contains the most gorgeous intricate pen and ink drawings by my favourite illustrator, Victor Ambrus.

Tristan and Iseult feature as only a brief chapter in the story of King Arthur. Rosemary Sutcliff has cleverly given them freedom and life to tell their own story. If you love tales of romance, mythology, bravery, daring and battle, you will l...more
I enjoyed this retelling of the story - especially as Sutcliff decided not to include the love potion that Tritan and Iseult drink. I've never really liked that part of the story and feel that it takes away from the love they have for each other, so it was great to see the story work without it. The style of the writing felt very much as if I were reading a medieval epic at some points, which was nice at times but also a bit annoying at times since I was reading a modern book and not a medieval...more
Brooke Shannon
One of my all time favorite books and I love. I find myself re-reading every few years
A story about a boy named Tristan and a girl named Iseult who hopelessly fall in love with each other and their lives are never the same.

Teachers can use this book to introduce the students to a romance novel. The novel includes rich vocabulary that the teacher can use to pull vocabulary words from.

Students will like this book because of the adventures that occur. Students will like to read about loyalty, betrayal, and deep abiding friendship that is found in this novel.
I love old, old stories -- and this is one of the oldest stories in the world.

I love Rosemary Sutcliff, her taste, & her attention to detail.


This is great edition of the story. Sutcliff dispenses with some of the dumber renditions of the story (i.e., Wagner, et al). Her writing feels like a real story from the oral tradition, too -- the book weighs in at only ~140 pages, and the plot is briskly paced, with deep focus only at the crucial character defining moments.
A mini-masterpiece, your only regret about reading this book is that the experience is over so soon! And this version is the best for going back to the roots without all the King arthur tie-ins. Add that to Rosemary Sutcliff's beautiful writing, and this is one of the most epic, passionate and heartbreaking tales you will ever read. The original Romeo and Juliet, it will not dissapoint.
Beautiful prose and excellent story telling. I picked this up after reading the author's King Arthur trilogy--where the legend of Tristan and Iseult appears. I wish I had read them the other way around, for the King Arthur story, in my opinion, is just more interesting than this one. Nevertheless, I enjoyed Ms. Sutcliff's version of this celtic legend.
This is a very enjoyable version of the Tristan and Iseult legend, versions of which seem to be told all over Europe. Rosemary Sutcliff has changed the story slightly to make it more realistic, omitting the love-potion part which appears in most versions. Her descriptive style is perfect if you like to immerse yourself in the landscape of a book.
Margaret French
I raced through this little book this afternoon. I'd always meat to read some version or another of this old story & happened upon this in our library store. Written for young adults, I suppose, though it should appeal to anyone who loves the old legends. Sutcliff writes well, and it's a good read, full of romance and high adventure.
Beautiful work of fiction! Rosemary Sutcliff has done it again! Weaving myth with history and beauty with emotion. This book was absolutely superb!! You can feel Tristan and Iseult's pain and frustration. And wonder if they'll ever end up together.

This book is heart-breaking but perfect...definitely one of my favorites!:-)
This is definitely a more mature read. Contains a lot of innuendos that children may not pick up on. The language in this book is very rich, more of a medieval feel to it. It's not at the top of my recommendation list, but was worth reading. The imagery and language are enriching for vocabulary and writing.
This book was a quick read, only 146 pages. The story was interesting but there was just not enough detail in it to get me really involved with the characters. I guess in such a short book, you have to expect it to be pretty concise. I'm excited to see the movie though.
Sutcliff again has written a great short story form of a classic historical tale. For some reason, Sutcliff's renditions of these tales always stand out to me as the REAL story-the REAL version. And I still remember them today even though I read them more than 15 years ago.
This was an okay version of the infamous story. The story itself was handled well for a child audience. The characters were typical traditional fantasy characters of single dimension. Overall, not the best book, but still useful in its own way.
This is a traditional fantasy book about two star crossed lovers. The author tells it in a good oral storytelling voice. She chooses to leave out the love potion of the myth so that the characters can make decisions.
Apr 22, 2008 Sanah rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: someone who wants to read something sweet
this book was beautiful. i thought it was so tragic how cruel fate always separated Tristan and Iseult when they were together. but it thought it was sweet how they died together and were buried in the same grave.
Nice story, although its characters are typical traditional fantasy and not indepth. Despite this, the book is still interesting, although it is harder to read and does not maintain interest as easily.
3 1/2 stars, because the writing, although well done, is a bit dry. This is a lovely and tragic story, and its nice to see it in its proper setting and not buried within the Arthurian legends.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 27 28 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Prince of Dreams: A Tale of Tristan and Esyllte
  • The Idylls of the Queen: A Tale of Queen Guenevere
  • The Witch Queen's Secret (Twilight of Avalon, #1.5)
  • We Didn't Mean to Go to Sea (Swallows and Amazons, #7)
  • Mimus
  • For Camelot's Honor (The Paths to Camelot, #2)
  • The Ramsay Scallop
  • The Watcher in the Shadows (Inquisitor's Apprentice #2)
  • The Book of Mordred
  • Exposure (Paul Faustino, #3)
  • Runner
  • Guinevere: The Legend in Autumn  (Guinevere, #3)
  • Dance in the Desert
  • Nobody's Family Is Going to Change
  • Here Lies Arthur
  • The Golden Age
  • Harold's Fairy Tale
  • I Saw Esau: The Schoolchild's Pocket Book
Rosemary Sutcliff was a British novelist, best known as a writer of highly acclaimed historical fiction. Although primarily a children's author, the quality and depth of her writing also appeals to adults, she herself once commenting that she wrote "for children of all ages from nine to ninety."

Born in West Clandon, Surrey, Sutcliff spent her early youth in Malta and other naval bases where her fa...more
More about Rosemary Sutcliff...
The Eagle Of The Ninth The Lantern Bearers Black Ships Before Troy The Silver Branch Sword at Sunset

Share This Book

“Here is one with a gift for loving and a gift for hating, and when he hates, God help the man who earns his hatred.” 1 likes
More quotes…