Le Morte D’Arthur, Volume II by Sir Thomas Malory
Finished reading on June 17th, 2016
It took me almost exactly two months to finish reading the second volume after finishing first one. I didn’t start reading it right after, and had time to finish six other books in-between.
So I’m almost certain that anyone who’d read this review would already know quite a bit about Malory’s “Le Morte D’Arthur”, so I wouldn’t really need to write what it is about.
Still – it’s about King Arthur and his “Knights of the Table Round” – of Sir Launcelot and Sir Gawain and others, their jousts and quarrels and saving damosels in distress, their search for the Holy Grail and other adventures perilous. (You’ll end up using strange words by the end of it.)
I found that in this volume the most interesting part was the one about the Holy Grail – it felt like the pace of it was a lot faster than in other parts. Also it was quite eyeopening, as I didn’t know much of Sangrail and of it’s details, so that was fun – how and when and to whom it would appear etc.
So what actually happens?
First off there are some characters with quite difficult family relations – Sir Mordred for example – King Arthur is his father and his uncle, and their relationship is not passing good at all. And then there’s Galahad and Sir Launcelot, the latter names Galahad a knight, whilst neither yet knows that Galahad is Launcelot’s son.
Then we have the women – not many in all of it, but they’re not really sensible people at all (although maybe a knight in shining armor riding on a white horse is simply irresistible?) and always end up in some kind of trouble – take for example Queen Guenever who hosts a dinner for 24 knights after she’s told Sir Launcelot to leave Camelot. A knight is poisoned and although her reason for holding the dinner was to show that she’s just as friendly with other knights, it backfires, no-one likes her and Sir Launcelot has to rush in to save her (or otherwise King Arthur had asked Sir Bors to fight for her honor, so that might have worked too).
The things I found surprising – how much religion, fainting and weeping is in Le Morte D’Arthur. Also that you can find a hermit pretty much wherever you go…
I like the idea of the Arthurian Legends, but the characters all have some kind of mortal flaw.
My favorite quote comes from King Arthur:
“Wit you well my heart was never so heavy as it is now, and much more I am sorrier for my good knights’ loss than for the loss of my fair queen; for queens I might have enow, but such a fellowship of good knights shall never be together in no company.
… because he just likes to hang out and watch sports with his buddies…
I am slightly worried that having read this and not having had enough of chivalry and knights I might get too much into medieval literature and Arthurian legends… I did enjoy reading it although the characters lacked something.
Whilst reading the second volume of Malory’s book I found myself thinking back on the time when I was learning about medieval literature at school (was it 8th and 10th grade maybe?) and I remember thinking that that time period in literature was the most boring of all – I just liked literature from the beginning of 19th century up to 20th century and stopping just before the Second World War – later and earlier writing was not to my taste.
I think maybe even when I did read some excerpts from some medieval literature in class, maybe I just couldn’t have appreciated it anyway? Or maybe had I had enough motivation I would have found it fascinating as I do now?
I’m starting to see all literature as something that I want to get better acquainted with and not just stick to my comfort zone.
Another thing I realized while reading this, second volume (hadn’t thought of it while reading first volume at all), was that I want to find out more about the history and any other related literature (which I certainly will do at some point), that’s quite different from having watched BBC’s Merlin on Netflix and thinking “oh it would be cool to read something that the characters are based on or inspired from”.
I would recommend reading all of it, if you feel like it would be something interesting for you, otherwise some chapters would be sufficient.
Not much of a review, but I’m just glad I wasn’t forced to read it, I can see how that would have made reading it awful.