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The Sword and the Circle: King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table (Legends of King Arthur #1)

3.75  ·  Rating Details  ·  560 Ratings  ·  44 Reviews
Retells the adventures of King Arthur, Queen Guenevere, Sir Lancelot, and the other knights of the Round Table.
Paperback, 272 pages
Published November 1st 1994 by Puffin Books (first published September 1st 1981)
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The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer BradleyThe Once and Future King by T.H. WhiteMary Stewart's Merlin Trilogy by Mary StewartLe Morte d'Arthur by Thomas MaloryThe Winter King by Bernard Cornwell
The Arthurian Legend Retold
89th out of 438 books — 669 voters
The Sword in the Stone by T.H. WhiteThe Squire's Tale by Gerald MorrisThe Grey King by Susan CooperThe Lost Years by T.A. BarronThe King Arthur Trilogy by Rosemary Sutcliff
Arthurian Fiction for Children
13th out of 93 books — 8 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,491)
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Feb 27, 2012 Dani rated it it was amazing
Shelves: didn-t-finish, fic
I don't know how this author is able to say SO MUCH in so few words. A lot happens quickly in this book, so you have many events and many characters over few pages, so you would think it would feel like there's a lack of depth. And yet somehow, with just a few words of dialogue, she is able to capture the essence of the character's soul, and you feel deeply for that character. I'm on page 70 and this book has already moved me to tears. And I was on the bus at the time! Inconvenient, but brillian ...more
I've always loved Rosemary Sutcliff's books, so probably I'm automatically biased towards this one. Actually, I found it a little hard to get into at first -- the first few chapters seemed very much like the first part of the Historia Regum Britanniae, except for children. Still, I gave it chance and though it was slower to get started for me than, say, The Eagle of the Ninth, it got to a point where I didn't want to put it down. It is recognisably for children, but at the same time there isn't ...more
Erin Hendrian
May 13, 2016 Erin Hendrian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My favorite collection of Arthurian legends (not that I've read very many). This collection focuses on more of the earlier tales, and while some are noble, some humorous, some sad, they all have the energy and beauty and classic fairy-tale charm of the golden age of Arthur, and are seasoned with more joy than sorrow. My favorites are the tales of Beaumains the Kitchen Knight, and of Gawaine and the Loathly Lady. :)
Sep 21, 2014 Laurel rated it it was amazing
Beautifully written. Sutcliff's writing continues to amaze and delight me. She has taken another classic and given it fresh life while maintaining the haunting mysteries of the story.
Sep 14, 2015 Joy rated it it was amazing
I love Rosemary Sutcliff so much, so it felt simply perfect to be introduced to the legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table by her writing. . . I can't wait to finish the trilogy and dig into more Arthurnian legends (Looking at you, "Pendragon's Heir"!). . . but this was beautiful, and heartbreaking, and the stories were rich and moving. Some made me angry, some made me sad, some made me laugh and others made me cry. . . the characters were rich and the writing was beautiful jus ...more
Rosemary Sutcliff's genius in this book is that she is entirely within the tradition of the old writers who have passed down the Arthur legends to us; in The Sword and the Circle she draws on older tellings, refining and recasting in new language. She does not make the modern mistake of putting a new spin or a new interpretation on the tales; she is concerned with keeping the bright and shining romance of the old tales, only burnishing it anew that it may shine brighter. Sutcliff's voice is grav ...more
Sep 05, 2014 travelgirlut rated it really liked it
Shelves: ella-s-books
I read this along with my daughter for school. I figured it was going to be another one of those simplified stories that are written just for kids, but this book pleasantly surprised me. The writing was intricate and detailed. The author definitely knows how to paint a picture in your head. The stories themselves start to get repetitive. There's only so many ways a knight can go out on a quest and knock people off their horses. But the stories were just varied enough to keep me going just so I c ...more
Clare Farrelly
Sep 29, 2015 Clare Farrelly rated it liked it
Each chapter is a different Arthurian story but they are all one story. This book contains fairly shallow/short retelling of almost all the Arthurian stories (at least the ones that happen before the grail). It would be a good introduction to the tales, and there is not really much lancelot guinevere in there and there is no main story of them but they appear in most chapters. There is also a telling of Tristan and Iseult. Not particularly fast, but still interesting, and beautiful. Somewhat rep ...more
Nov 12, 2011 Joan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: folktale lovers, Sutcliff fans
I'll state upfront that one of my shelves does not really fit this title: historical fiction. However, it is the closest I have since I don't believe I read a lot of folk tales/lore type book. I'll add this shelf if I begin to notice this statement isn't true! I have always deeply admired Sutcliff. However, I was fairly disturbed after finishing Tristan and Iseult at how sexist the book was and started this one with some apprehension. However, it was never really an issue since the women are mos ...more
Aug 28, 2013 Gale rated it really liked it

The recreation of ancient cultures serves as a favorite vehicle
for Rosemary Sutcliff, who has portrayed the ancient Celts and Romans in Britain. In this YA book she has swept away the mists of Avalon, thus allowing her readers the delightful privilege of observing the gradual creation of Arthuriana. Drawing upon an eclectic source base for inspiration she weaves a tapestry which mesmerizes those who admired the Golden Age which briefly flowered between the Rome and t
Sep 04, 2014 G.L.Rose rated it really liked it
Sword and the Circle was a book about the adventures of many people. One of the recurring characters was Arthur, the legendary king of Camelot. He and his questing knights travelled around medieval England administering honorable justice. Sometimes gruesome but never sad, I might recommend this book if you like tales of heroic adventure.
that cute little red-eyed kitten
I would probably have liked this book much better had I read it as a kid. To me, it started off rather boring, but got better along the way. Wouldn't mind reading the other book(s) in the series. The Arthur legends are best known to me through Monty Pyhton, and somehow I feel that's not quite sufficient ;)
Norman Howe
May 22, 2015 Norman Howe rated it liked it
This is a very straightforward retelling of the Tales of King Arthur; part one of a trilogy.
Feb 16, 2014 Deborah rated it liked it
At first glance, this book seemed to be written for children; however the language used is old enough to make it a more difficult read than many adults are used to.
May 27, 2011 Jon rated it really liked it
Unlike Sword at Sunset, this is Arthur played straight, i.e. heavily Mallory. I would think I'd be sick of Arthurian legend by now but this is still very fresh and enjoyable. Although I am by no means an Arthur scholar, this would be my recommendation for the traditional tales. (Disclaimer: I haven't read Mallory yet. Or Monmouth, for that matter.) Each tale retains a distinct flavor. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight in particular feels like something from the Mabinogion repackaged. (Oddly, it se ...more
Jan 01, 2015 Joy rated it liked it
Read this YEARS ago.
Mar 19, 2014 Sage rated it it was amazing
Jul 28, 2014 Susannah rated it liked it
Shelves: did-not-finish
Reading for the middle-grade book square on Books on the Night Stand reading bingo, I didn't have time to finish this before it went back to the library. I do hope to finish it one day, but I'll have to pick something else for my bingo square.
Sophie Barone
Mar 10, 2016 Sophie Barone rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned-books, 2014
I basically regard this book as an overview, but not a bad one, of some of the earlier events to take place at King Arthur's court. It stayed quite parallel with the original storyline and, to me at least, had a good, Camelot-magic vibe. This story is written in text modern enough to be understood by many yet still sound authentic. Overall I'd have to say I was happy with this book. Reading it was like visiting an old friend.
Sep 03, 2013 Dark-Draco rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gave-up-reading
I'm a big fan of the legends of King Arthur in all their forms, but I couldn't get on with this at all. I found the style very boring and formulaic, and after the first couple of stories, couldn't be bothered to read any further. I can see why the author choose to write them like this - they come across as old fashioned stories or fairytales, but with little characterisation or descriptive writing, they just weren't that interesting.
Jan 17, 2013 Bekka rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book! It's written more like a chronicle than a novel, and it took me a couple of chapters to get into it. Once I did though, I was thoroughly swept up in the romance and excitement of the knights and their adventures. I think this book is actually right in the middle of a series, and it definitely doesn't end with the ending of Arthur and Camelot - that is yet to come. I look forward to completing the series!
Jan 31, 2012 Jerry rated it really liked it
I think this was a very interesting book. It shows alot of honor. The knights of the Round Table showed a lot of chivalry, and it was important for all knights to have. I think this book can help readers be more compliant with honor. Honor is very important in medivial times and today. I would recommend anyone to read this, but mostly to people that are interested in honor.
Nov 26, 2015 Lisa rated it it was ok
It's probably an easier read than the original Arthur tales however, I found it tedious and not well written.
Sarah Rice
Sep 07, 2011 Sarah Rice rated it really liked it
The first Arthurian book I read, this is played completely straight. It's a very good introduction for kids that doesn't belittle their intelligence or literacy, but doesn't get all Mary Stewart or Jack Whyte on them either.
Jason Garcia
Dec 14, 2012 Jason Garcia rated it liked it
i'm not really a fan of this book. it really feels like there are characters forgotton throughout the book. I'm not really a good reader so i would recommend this book who are good readers and can really keep track of the book.
Apr 05, 2012 Tisha rated it really liked it
I first found Rosemary Sutcliff when I picked up a copy of Eagle of the Ninth. Her style is very readable and I thoroughly enjoyed this retelling of Mallory's epic Arthurian tales.
Feb 12, 2014 MrsCRobertson rated it it was amazing
Part of an Arthur trilogy. Sword in the stone meets First Knight and Monty Python. Found it very romantic, almost too mature for a younger audience. Great compilation of stories!
May 26, 2015 Rose marked it as abandoned
I just can't get into King Arthur stories at this stage in my life. I guess that ship has sailed.
Jul 05, 2008 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing
Probably the best straightforward telling of the King Arthur Legend for any person who needs a fast tutorial. First of three volumes.
Retelling of tales of King Arthur and the knights of the Round Table for children. OK, but not particularly distinctive.
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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 about Rosemary Sutcliff...

Other Books in the Series

Legends of King Arthur (3 books)
  • The Light beyond the Forest: The Quest for the Holy Grail
  • Road to Camlann: The Death of King Arthur

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