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The Sword and the Circle: King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table

(Legends of King Arthur #1)

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  767 ratings  ·  66 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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3.76  · 
Rating details
 ·  767 ratings  ·  66 reviews


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Jan-Maat
First of a series of three books retelling of tales of King Arthur and the knights of the Round Table for children (The Light Beyond the Forest deals with the quest for the Holy Grail, The Road to Camlann with the end of the whole Arthur business. OK, but not particularly distinctive I think because Sutcliff as a wheelchair user, or perhaps more appropriately said a chariot rider is at her best with a view point character who is disadvantaged in some-way, particularly physically, lacking such a ...more
Dani
Jan 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fic, didn-t-finish
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
Florina
Mar 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
The best thing that recommends this book is not the immortal tale, but the way it is written. These stories have been told and retold numerous times throughout the ages, but how they are brought to life is what draws a reader in, and Rosemary Sutcliff's prose is lyrical and wondrous, both faithful to a mythical age while also concealing touches of modernity. Her descriptions of nature alone, using kennings (one of my favorite instances is describing the night as "wolf-dark") and sensual imagery, ...more
Nikki
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
Amelia
Jun 21, 2018 rated it liked it
A little slow for my taste but a good introduction into Arthurian Legend. The stories are short and more or less unconnected, so it was a fun book to pick up and read a bit of at a time, but not a real binge-reader. I especially liked all the parts with Merlin, and the tale of Tristan and Iseult.
Joy C.
May 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
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
Erin Hendrian
May 13, 2016 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. :)
Laurel
Sep 21, 2014 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.
Christina
Jul 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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
Helen
Oct 20, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I've always loved the Arthurian legends, so it is no wonder this was on my bookshelves. Yet somehow I'd never got around to reading it. Now I'm trying to work through my shelves and this was next on the list.
It is basically a set of short stories about the various knights and their adventures. As such, it lacked a certain cohesion. Lancelot and Guinevere's affair was touched upon, but not developed to its tragic conclusion. It was all somehow too dispassionate and dry. It felt almost as if the a
...more
Luisa
Jun 30, 2018 rated it it was ok
6/2818 The Sword and the Circle by Sutcliff is another one of the books connected to the new myPerspectives resource. Written in 1981, this is a very traditional telling of the King Arthur legend and consists of separate pieces that, after the first three chapters, could be read independently. The vocabulary and sentence structure are challenging and somewhat antiquated. Origins of Arthur, Excalibur, the Round Table, Guenever, Lancelot, Gawain, Percival and more are revealed. Repeated reference ...more
Jim D'Ambrosia
Jul 16, 2019 rated it liked it
raditional retelling of the Arthurian legend. First in a trilogy. Good; probably one of the better retellings. Not perfect; it doesn't add to the legends much, so there's still a lot of background that could be thrown in. So it's not one damn quest after another. But it's good. Good feel. But the development of Arthur, which is always the best part of the legends, is pretty quick; less than a quarter of the book.

Tom
Oct 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
I rated this book four stars because it just had too many characters in so when I saw a characters name I was like who is that and what does he do for king Arther . But the good thing about this book was that it was really adventurous because each paragraph most of the knights went on quests to try and find adventure . i would recommend this book for ages maybe 9-13 because it has some tough words in to pronounce but maybe if your clever you will be able to read it if your 8
Millie Chamley
Apr 26, 2019 rated it liked it
Even though this took 4 ever to read,I guess this was a prittie ok book 📚 I would probably rate this 3 star but that’s my opinion👌🙂So why don’t u read it and see how u feel about this heroic novel 🙂🥳🤩😁
Ramona Wray
Read this with my son, and we both enjoyed it. The story is pretty much unchanged, with minor amendments. All the beloved characters are present: from Merlin to Lancelot, the various knights of the Round Table, and even Tristan and Iseult. Pure delight & warmly recommended.
Harry Allan
Apr 26, 2019 rated it it was ok
I did not like this book I didn't find it interesting
Kassia
May 03, 2019 rated it it was ok
This book is ok but it is not the best
Emily Wilkinson
Oct 02, 2018 rated it did not like it
It's a great book about Arthur who becomes king by pulling a sword from a stone
Bethany Williams
I think that this book 📚 is more likely to be for boys because it is a sword in a stone
Eric
Jun 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
An easy to read telling of Arthurian legend.
Electro Cat
Jun 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Dragons, knights, lend me your ears for a terrible tale of both your kinds!
Gale
Apr 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
THE MAGE OF THE HAWTHORN TREE

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
...more
Gale
Aug 28, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
DRUIDIAN CULTURE--HIDDEN IN THE DEPTH OF AN ANCIENT TREE

The recreation of ancient cultures serves as a favorite vehicle for author, 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 bri
...more
Meredith
Apr 09, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: king-arthur
The Sword and the Circle is the first book in the The King Arthur Trilogy. The Light Beyond the Forest is book two, and Road to Camlann: The Death of King Arthur is the third and final book.

The author sticks fairly close to the Le Morte d'Arthur: King Arthur and the Legends of the Round Table in her retelling of the King Arthur legends, including much of the nonsensical events of the King Arthur cannon. Strikingly, medieval Christianity and magic coexist as equal forces in this world. Sutcliff d
...more
Michael
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
Joan
Nov 12, 2011 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
hedgehog
A by-the-numbers retelling of a handful of Arthurian stories. They're arranged chronologically throughout King Arthur's early reign, though each story stands well enough alone and can be read that way - more a short-story collection than a cohesive novel.

I adore Rosemary Sutcliff's work; this was something of a disappointment. I don't know whether it was the stiff, high-handed writing style, or whether it was the strict adherence to Malory/known sources, or maybe a combination of the two, but t
...more
Book Wormy
Dec 18, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2016
Part 1 of The King Arthur Trilogy

Spoiler alert for those not familiar with the Arthurian legends this review contains spoilers




This book covers the early life of King Arthur and his Knights up to the arrival of Sir Percival whose presence Merlin has prophesied will mark the beginning of the quest for the holy grail.

Key events - Arthur pulls the sword from the stone and is made King of Britain
The Lady in the Lake gives Arthur Excaliber
Arthur begets his son Mordred with his sister (Morgaus in this
...more
travelgirlut
Sep 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
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 21, 2015 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
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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

Other books in the series

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