KINSMEN OF THE GRAIL by Dorothy James Roberts


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An earlier version (12th century) of the Arthurian story than even Malory had followed is used here for the story of Gawin (the Gawaine of Miss Roberts' own Launcelot My Brother (1954), and of Perceval, one of the ""Kinsmen of the Grail"". It will doubtless be confusing to many familiar with the Malory version and its heirs, which showed Gawin in an unfavorable light and used Perceval not at all. But this new novel stands apart, owing much to the mysticism, the legend and superstition, the pagan overlay of early Christianity and it gives fresh dimension to some of the ""reasons why"" that are often clouded in the romantic portraits of the Knights of the Round Table. Gawin here pictured is comparable to Lancelot (the earlier spelling is followed) in his role at the court of King Arthur, in his exploits in the eyes of the people. But this story concerns his first encounter with Perceval, a child still, shielded from knowledge of the world by his widowed mother until Gawin breaks into their solitude and arouses them both. And it carries through to the year's end- a year in which Perceval gains stature as the first knight, claiming the right to pursue the Grail, held over the centuries in rust by his family; a year too in which Gawin is beset by the jealousies of the court, the virtual exile from favor, the enchantments that beset his path, the periods of spiritual enlightenment, the setbacks- and the final turning back to City of Legions to attempt the rescue of Lancelot. Overlong, perhaps, and at times the philosophical divergences break the thread of the narrative. But it does make a contribution as another facet of a much loved story.

Pub Date: July 17th, 1963
Publisher: Little, Brown