What's the Name of That Book??? discussion

Sir Lancelot
This topic is about Sir Lancelot
SOLVED: Children's/YA > SOLVED. Pre-1960 kid's book about Sir Lancelot [s]

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message 1: by Werner (new) - added it

Werner | 104 comments This one might be a stumper! It's probably what we today might call a middle-grade book, mostly text, but with some black-and-white-drawing illustrations. I believe the viewpoint character is Lancelot's squire, and the premise is that the two are in a remote area of Arthur's kingdom, where the old reigning (or recently deceased?) duke had cobbled together a duchy from a whole bunch of subjugated warring clan territories. The region's unity is symbolized by a belt he wore, made from the joined medallions of each of the conquered clans. A tribal leader, Alaric the Strong, wants to steal the belt, and (on a certain day, in a standing-stone area; the term "Sun Ring" is associated with this), hammer the belt apart and return the medallions to the original clan owners. Of course, he's depicted as the villain; the socio-political message conveyed is that centralization of power =civilization and is GOOD, while decentralization is BAAAAAD! (Even back then, I begged to differ, and could see the ways the author was manipulating the narrative; I rooted for Alaric anyway.) One of the characters is an old, loyal (to the duke) blacksmith (view spoiler) There really isn't much connection to historical Arthurian times or the medieval Arthur legends; the name "Lancelot" is just used to conjure vague associations in a setting that's sort of "medieval."

The way the two main characters are introduced, at the time, suggested to me that this might have been a book in a series, or a spin-off from a TV show (though not one I'd ever seen). That impression was heightened by the fact that it shared a distinctive physical format (hardcover, but smaller and squarer than the average), bright-colored cover art, style of internal drawings, and literary style with another book I got at the same time. This one was about a pirate hunter, with a youthful sidekick who's the viewpoint character, operating out of "Port Nassau" in the West Indies; in the book, they take down Blackbeard, in a plot that bears no resemblance to his actual fate. (I don't recall either main character's name, but they had a naval officer friend named Lieutenant Beamish.) It conveys the same feeling that this is just one adventure among others, and that the writer assumes some familiarity on the reader's part with the characters. Both books were clearly put out by the same publishing firm (I just don't recall what that was, either!).

message 2: by Jo (new)

Jo Andrews | 52 comments The plot of the pirate book sounds like it might be related to the 1956 tv show The Buccaneers.

I can't find anything about a book adaptation though.

message 3: by Werner (new) - added it

Werner | 104 comments Yes, Jo, now we're getting somewhere! The book is obviously spun off from that series, and I actually kind of recall the name "Dan Tempest" now that my memory was jogged. Hopefully this will give me a handle to track the book(s).

message 4: by Werner (new) - added it

Werner | 104 comments Jo, half of my question is answered! The pirate book is The Buccaneers by Alice Sankey. I need to sign off now to leave for work, but I'll be adding the book to the Goodreads database ASAP.

message 5: by Jo (new)

Jo Andrews | 52 comments Great news! Glad I could point you in the right direction.

message 6: by Werner (new) - added it

Werner | 104 comments Jo wrote: Glad I could point you in the right direction. You did indeed! The information you gave me about the TV series enabled me to do a Google search that turned up the pirate book (I recognized the cover instantly). It turned out to be part of Whitman's Big Little Books TV series, so once I knew that, it wasn't hard to run down the other book, either. It's Sir Lancelot by Dorothy Haas. Thanks so much for helping me identify these!

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