Good Minds Suggest—Nelson DeMille's Favorite Books About the Holy Grail

Posted by Goodreads on August 27, 2013
Nelson DeMille Ever since the days of courtly love and armored knights, finding the Holy Grail has been a siren song and an epic adventure for believers and treasure hunters alike. That call recently enticed thriller author Nelson DeMille to revise and update a story he wrote nearly 40 years ago. First released in 1974, The Quest sets three unlikely "knights," two journalists and an alluring photographer, on the path to the Grail—journeying from the bombed-out jungles of Ethiopia during its civil war to the Vatican and beyond. After 17 novels and more than 50 million copies sold, DeMille knows how to build suspense, perhaps because he still painstakingly writes his books in longhand and pencil. His many best-selling tales of international intrigue include The General's Daughter and the popular series starring anti-terrorism special agent John Corey, who shares DeMille's characteristic sarcasm. The Long Island-based writer lists his favorite books about the elusive Holy Grail. Begin your quest!

Le Morte d'Arthur by Thomas Malory
"This work combines most of the Arthurian legends and has become the classic and definitive story of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. The search for the Holy Grail is contained within the larger story of valor, honor, chivalry, and ultimately tragedy. A good starting point for anyone interested in the subject and a very good (though not easy) read."


Idylls of the King by Alfred Tennyson
"An epic poem of many volumes that borrows from Malory's earlier work, which in turn borrowed from even earlier legends and myths. Like Le Morte d'Arthur, Idylls encompasses many tales and adventures, including the search for the Holy Grail. Also like Malory's work, this is wonderfully written but possibly a bit of a challenge for modern readers."


King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table by Roger Lancelyn Green
"If you've survived Malory and Tennyson, this volume for young readers will be a good breather. Green has done an amazing job of making these tales accessible to schoolkids, and this is a joy for parents to read to their children. My seven-year-old can't get enough of this book."


The Quest of the Holy Grail by Anonymous, translated by Pauline Matarasso
"Written in French in the early 13th century, this is a completely different take on almost all the Grail legends. The emphasis here is on spirituality, not courtly love or knightly chivalry. Yet the central theme of man's search for God comes through. An interesting peek into the medieval mind."


The Silver Chalice by Thomas B. Costain
"Costain was one of the best historical fiction writers of the mid-20th century, and Chalice was a huge best seller in 1952, staying on The New York Times list for an amazing (and enviable) 64 weeks. This is not about the search for the Holy Grail, but it is a prequel to the Arthurian legends, set in the time immediately after the Crucifixion. An unusual, unique, and entertaining variation on everything that came before."



Vote for your own favorites on Listopia: The Arthurian Legend Retold



Comments Showing 1-10 of 10 (10 new)

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message 1: by James (new)

James This looks very interesting if you are a knight freak
which has some very interesting times. Jim Horn


message 2: by Amy (new)

Amy Bradley I've read a lot of Arthurian novels and retellings over the years. I'm rather surprised the TH White's THE ONCE AND FUTURE KING is not listed. Also Mary Stewart's MERLIN books, which are a marvelous, magical retelling based partially on history, and told in first person from Merlin's viewpoint.

If you want to focus on the Grail story, you should know about an author who was part of the Inklings that J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis belonged to. He is Charles Williams, and he wrote 9 supernatural thrillers for the popular audience of the 1930's. The novel that is considered his most accessible is his Grail novel, called WAR IN HEAVEN. It's a thriller, with good guys and bad guys, and the Holy Grail.


message 3: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Holy grail not what I picture his books. Afraid I would be disappointed for the first time


message 4: by Jody (new)

Jody Fascinating subject. If DeMille writes it, I'm there.


message 5: by Harriet (new)

Harriet Puterman I've read all of the John Corey books as well as others by DeMille. I love his NY sense of humor and would find myself laughing out loud. Not sure about this subject--not a fan of the middle ages. However, friends who like Follett told me that his 2 books on the middle ages were also excellent, so maybe I'll try this new book as well.


message 6: by Eve (new)

Eve Wood-Langford There is reluctance today for historians to accept an historical Arthur, but William of Malmesbury the twelfth century historian who lived closer to Arthur's dark age period rejected the 'silly fairy tales' surrounding Arthur in favour of the historical leader who preserved his country in the sixth century.
There is no reason to reject Arthur's role in holding back the Angles and Saxons for a generation. Moreover there is a perfectly good base for his military role. It lies between the enemy settlements and the British heartland, and has strong associations with pre-Roman tribal Britain, and military Roman power. It also has Roman roads connecting it to many centres of civilisation in Britain and has a connection to the late name Camelod.
Similar associations lie with the name of Avalon which has strong links to Arthur's last battle claimed by the Cornish to have taken place on Bodmin Moor.
This practical hypothesis for Arthur's life and role is to be found in 'Looking for Camelot' by Eve Wood-Langford.


message 7: by Amy (new)

Amy Bradley Eve wrote: "There is reluctance today for historians to accept an historical Arthur, but William of Malmesbury the twelfth century historian who lived closer to Arthur's dark age period rejected the 'silly fa..."
Have you read John Morris's massive history called The Age of Arthur? It was published in the late 70's and is a study of the probability that Arthur did indeed exist.


message 8: by Eve (new)

Eve Wood-Langford Yes - certainly read John Morris - though some of his theories have been contradicted. I loved the book though.


message 9: by Karla (new)

Karla Brandenburg Love grail stories - enough to write one of my own! Touched by the Sun by Karla Brandenburg


message 10: by David A. Wade (new)

David A. Wade Harriet wrote: "I've read all of the John Corey books as well as others by DeMille. I love his NY sense of humor and would find myself laughing out loud. Not sure about this subject--not a fan of the middle ages. ..."

do the John Cory novels need to be read in order ?


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