Book 217: Le Morte D’Arthur, Volume II by Sir Thomas Malory

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Le Morte D’Arthur, Volume II by Sir Thomas Malory

Finished reading on June 17th, 2016

Rating: 8/10

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.

Book 210: Le Morte D’Arthur Volume I by Sir Thomas Malory

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Le Morte D’Arthur Volume I by Sir Thomas Malory

Finished reading on April 18th, 2016

Rating: 8/10

First off – don’t be afraid, it’s not in French!

I picked this book up because I was watching BBC’s Merlin on Netflix and I figured it would be great to read more about King Arthur and the knights of the Round Table etc. So out of my own free (but bonkers) will I picked up a volume of late fifteenth century literature.

This is what I made of it:

It is about a lot more than just King Arthur.
To me it seemed that it was just men wanting to play with their swords and lances. So many people grow shorter by a head and many castle holders have crazy customs (but to each their own…)

In the first volume you do find out how Arthur becomes king, and how he’s born as well, and we meet Sir Lancelot du Lake and Arthur’s sister Morgan Le Fay and Queen Guenevere and lots of knights. And then you follow them as one knight after the other goes looking for adventures.

I always had the idea that it must have been quite difficult to become a knight, but considering how many die in the first volume, and still there are so many more knights, there must be exponential growth somewhere….

I enjoyed most the book (VII)  about Beaumains – a young man who arrives at King Arthur’s court and asks for three gifts (and just the concept of going along to the court and asking for stuff – crazy?), one to be fulfilled now and two in a year. The one he wanted now was to be fed for a year at the court. And he is granted his wishes (although knights make fun of him and he ends up being a kitchen boy for a year). After the year has passed, he asks for the other two gifts – first that he’d be granted an adventure and second that Sir Launcelot make him night when he sees him fit to be one. Sounded like just an arrogant brat to me there…. but it gets better. He is granted the adventure, where he has to help a damsel in distress, but the lady isn’t too happy that her request for a knight to help her, ends up with her having a kitchen boy following her (apparently he stinks, literally).
It’s just lovely from then on 🙂 I’d tell you what happens and who the boy is, but maybe you’d enjoy some Sir Malory’s writing rather than mine…

So in general I’ve very much enjoyed reading it, and I will soon continue and read the second volume (because to be honest, also SPOILER! – Arthur, Merlin, Mordred, Sir Launcelot and Morgan le Fay and Morgawse are all alive at the end of vol I, book IX).

Also I found myself thinking of maybe picking up Cervantes’ Don Quixote some time – that never made sense to me how Don Quixote was mentioned so much in my literature classes in school, but we never actually had to read anything that had any knights in it – maybe it’s to make sure we don’t read too much and end up like Don Quixote 🙂

Also I’d point out that if you’ve enjoyed George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, Sir Malory would be nice too – style’s different, but lots of people die, crazy things happen and you’ve got Sirs instead of Sers 😀