Nikki's Reviews > The Death of King Arthur

The Death of King Arthur by Peter Ackroyd
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Feb 24, 11

bookshelves: arthurian, fantasy, based-on-myth-saga-etc
Read from February 23 to 24, 2011

Peter Ackroyd's retelling of Malory's tales purports to be a modernisation, a revivification, even. I don't think it really achieves its goals. Flawed as Malory's work is, to the modern reader at least, I think there's a passion there and a meaning that slips through Ackroyd's fingers. He cuts liberally from the text, so that it certainly doesn't hold the richness of Malory -- if you're looking for something simplified, abridged, I might even venture to say dumbed down, then Peter Ackroyd's retelling might save you the long (but rewarding, in my opinion) job of reading Malory's original text. On the other hand, I don't think it adequately captures the original text, so perhaps you'd be better reading one of the countless modern retellings, or one of the more dynamic texts in translation (Simon Armitage's translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is fun) -- Malory's work was itself a retelling, after all.

I didn't find it enthralling, as you can tell. I didn't find it -- here, let's find some quotations from the blurb and such -- a 'magical and moving evocation of humanity's endless search for perfection, nor did I find it a 'dramatic modern story', or that it brought 'new life' to the story for our times.

One thing I did appreciate was that the introduction and even the dust jacket acknowledge that Malory was no paragon of virtue (how ironic that he wrote about chivalry and the finest knights in the world).

While this review seems fairly scathing, I didn't hate the book, either. I simply found it completely unremarkable.

I think I might start rereading Malory, now...

Wait. The GR blurb says, 'This title presents readable accounts of the knights of the Round Table.' Readable, yes. That's about the most positive I can be about it, too.
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Comments (showing 1-1 of 1) (1 new)

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Old-Barbarossa I was looking forward to this...now I'm not.
I'll still read it though.


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