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The Discovery of King Arthur

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  376 Ratings  ·  22 Reviews
Myths, legends, and literary mysteries mix with maps, relics, and historical facts in The Discovery of King Arthur. Scholars, students, and 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 proof th ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published January 15th 1987 by Holt Paperbacks (first published 1985)
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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 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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.
Aug 24, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Brief summary: Interesting, but also a bit annoying. Details follow.

Ashe is a well-known scholar of the "historical Arthur" (or, perhaps to be more accurate, on the historical events on which the Arthur legends may be based.) My understanding is that "The Discovery of King Arthur," which is directed at a popular audience rather than a scholarly one, is one of his most important publications.

Ashe's main argument here is that the historical Arthur was the same person as Riothamus, a late 5th centu
Sep 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: european-history
The Discovery of King Arthur lays out author Geoffrey Ashe’s argument that there was a real documented historical king upon which the King Arthur legend is based.

Geoffrey of Monmouth was the first person to write a detailed account of the King Arthur legend in his History of the Kings of Britain published in 1136. While much of Geoffrey’s Arthur story is fictional, it correctly, according to Ashe, establishes King Arthur as a 5th century ruler between the end of Roman rule in Britain in 410 CE
I've always been much more of a Robin Hood girl but I really do need to read up more on King Arthur
M Taylor
Apr 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
William Capuano
Jan 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 10, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Aug 06, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 06, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was the first book I've read on trying to prove the existence, on some level, of King Arthur. I thought that Ashe did an excellent job of presenting all sides to theories of his existence or non-existence, providing information without passing judgment except where absolutely necessary. As an introduction to trying to prove whether Arthur was myth or man, readers cannot go wrong with this book.
Sep 12, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jill Roberts
Jun 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Geoffrey Ashe is and has been one of the most prominent Arthurian scholars of our time. He is definitely someone I admire, and I frequently read his works as part of my research for my own Arthurian books. This book is a great addition for discovering who King Arthur was.
Lee Anne
Jun 24, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Feb 09, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
France has it all. Now it's taken Arthur and Avallon and all that. I guess the English never learned how to spell.
Adele Jones
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 :)
Dawn Colclasure
Dec 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A very fascinating book!
Jeanette Noechel
Very enjoyable read
Rob Roy
Has he solved the mystery? You be the judge
light , enjoyable read
Jared Detter
Sep 27, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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May 25, 2015
Daniel Banker
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May 16, 2011
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Sep 22, 2012
Hedwig Van wuijkhuijse
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Feb 26, 2013
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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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