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The Discovery of King Arthur

3.79  ·  Rating Details  ·  318 Ratings  ·  17 Reviews
Myths, legends & literary mysteries mix with maps, relics & historical facts in "The Discovery of King Arthur." Scholars, students & general readers of all ages have wondered for centuries about whether Britain was ever really ruled by an Arthur who held court at a place called Camelot. In this book, the distinguished scholar Geoffrey Ashe offers convincing pro ...more
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published March 1985 by Anchor Press/Doubleday (Garden City, NY) (first published 1985)
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The Oxford Guide to Arthurian Literature and Legend by Alan LupackThe Age of Arthur by John Robert MorrisThe Arthurian Handbook by Norris J. LacyThe Myth of Morgan la Fey by Kristina PerezThe Discovery of King Arthur by Geoffrey Ashe
Best Arthurian Non-Fiction
5th out of 10 books — 14 voters
The Age of Arthur by John Robert MorrisArthur's Britain by Leslie AlcockKing Arthur by Norma Lorre GoodrichThe Quest for Arthur's Britain by Geoffrey AsheKing Arthur by Michael Holmes
Arthurian History & Study
21st out of 21 books — 5 voters

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Community Reviews

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The question of the reality of King Arthur has been answered in various ways and Geoffrey Ashe gives his answer in “The Discovery of King Arthur”. One of the most preeminent Arthurian scholars in the world, Ashe’s thesis brought the possibility of a real Arthur to the public by guiding them through the layers of myth and legend.

Ashe begins his presentation by establishing how the Arthur we have come to know in was first widely distributed, through Geoffrey of Monmouth’s “Histories of the Kings o
Mark Freckleton
Apr 28, 2010 Mark Freckleton rated it really liked it
I will admit that I was a little skeptical before I read this, but is a very pleasant read. Geoffrey Ashe is not an academic (i.e., no Ph.D., professorship, etc.), but he does his homework. The legends of Arthur are evidently somewhat of an obsession, but he is very careful in his analysis of his sources and the facts available - including early Medieval documents. For anyone who wants to know what the actual origins of the Arthur legends were (was he a real person, if so, when and where), this ...more
M Taylor
Apr 18, 2015 M Taylor rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone curious about the legend
This book presents an amazing case for who the historical King Arthur may well have been. No other theories have dislodged this one in my mind about the shadowy real man whom we pin so many tales, legends, and romances upon.

Geoffrey Ashe demonstrates the validity of each and every assertion or conclusion with scholarly care but makes the read so very entertaining and enjoyable. It is very much like solving a mystery, one with all kinds of unexpected possibilities.

Ashe also was a key figure behin
Karolinde (Kari)
This book is a must read for anyone interested in the historical Arthur. Ashe makes a very convincing case for the identity of the original Arthur used to create the legend through the use of multiple sources. Even more interesting is Ashe's attention to what the legend of Arthury meant to the people of medieval Britian and how it outstripped the man it was based around so easily.
William Capuano
Jan 08, 2015 William Capuano rated it it was amazing
I received this as a Christmas present from my dad as he noticed I'd taken a recent interest in the legends of King Arthur, though I knew virtually nothing specific of the subject. This book delightfully introduces and summarises the Arthurian legends and British/Roman history, and provides an in-depth yet easy to follow historiographical analysis on the historical aspect of the legends. As a history student, I absolutely cherished the depth and reliability of the research presented, and anyone ...more
Jul 23, 2014 Georgene rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Georgene by: Philip Wickstrand
Shelves: history
Some insist that King Arthur of Britain is a legend, some insist that he was a real man, a king living in the time after Rome abandoned Britain. Geoffrey Ashe is of the second opinion. After reading this book, I intend to agree.

Delving into very early medieval literature and explaining how Arthur became such a legend in the 1200's in Europe, Ashe furthers his search into early historical documents and archaeology to develop his premise for a real king who lived in the mid-5th century in Britain
Lee Anne
Jun 24, 2014 Lee Anne rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Spoiler: he does NOT "discover Arthur," but merely recaps all the possible rabbit trails & then proceeds to discredit each & every one. It is an interesting summary of all the strands. Unfortunately there is no index...Probably will keep it on the shelf for reference.
Jan 01, 2011 Rachel rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction
Ashe's argues that the Arthur legend is based on a Romanized battle lord named Riothamus. His "evidence" consists of ignoring what doesn't fit with his theory and blindly accepting what does fit. He manages to argue that a date recorded as 642 AD (or is it CE now?), could have really been 470 AD. I found that I slogged through this book because I started it and wanted to get if off my currently-reading list before the New Year. I didn't enjoy any of it, and don't feel that it adds anything the t ...more
Aug 06, 2012 Philippa rated it really liked it
I very rarely delve into nonfiction reading, but being a bit of a geek when it comes to Arthuriana this was a welcome exception.

Ashe makes a calm and convincing argument for the identification of Riothamus as Arthur. He looks at history, literature, myth and archaeology, and it gives him an excellent base to make this claim from. His writing is straightforward and approachable, and meant I whizzed through the second half of this in one afternoon, hardly noticing the time pass.

An enjoyable, inte
Jeanette Noechel
Jan 15, 2014 Jeanette Noechel rated it it was amazing
Very enjoyable read
Sep 12, 2012 Robbie rated it really liked it
Geoffrey Ashe presents the case for King Arthur as Riothamus, and it is a convincing case. I read this many years ago so decided to read it again. If you are interested in King Arthur, you will find it as fascinating as I did.
Jared Detter
Oct 13, 2010 Jared Detter rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, history
Interesting book on the historicity of King Arthur. Well worth the read if you've ever wondered if King Arthur existed in real life.
Adele Jones
Aug 12, 2013 Adele Jones rated it liked it
I don't know enough to believe or disbelieve him, but I couldn't put the book down and it relit my interest in Arthurian legend :)
Feb 09, 2008 Peter rated it really liked it
France has it all. Now it's taken Arthur and Avallon and all that. I guess the English never learned how to spell.
Rob Roy
Aug 10, 2009 Rob Roy added it
Shelves: history
Has he solved the mystery? You be the judge
Aug 23, 2008 Eric added it
light , enjoyable read
Dawn Colclasure
Dec 13, 2013 Dawn Colclasure rated it it was amazing
A very fascinating book!
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Geoffrey Thomas Leslie Ashe is a British cultural historian, a writer of non-fiction books and novels.
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