THE SWORD AND THE CIRCLE by Rosemary Sutcliff


King Arthur And The Knights Of The Round Table
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Once more, as in The Light Beyond the Forest (1980) whose events follow these, Sutcliff immerses herself and her readers in the sensibility of the medieval legend. It's a world where unproved heroes ride about inquiring "Good fellow, is there any place near here where adventure is to be had for the asking?" and where a knight of the Round Table is likely in his wanderings to come upon four others gathered under an oak tree. Women, except for Queen Guinevere who stands apart, are cast as damsels in distress or subtle and treacherous enchantresses; honor is worth more than life; and, more so than in The Light Beyond the Forest with its transforming religious superstructure, the primitive Celtic heritage asserts itself through the thin cloak of chivalry. Sutcliff tells us that her version has "followed Malory in the main" but borrowed also from other (specified) earlier sources. The narrative, which takes us from "The Coming of Arthur" (with some mythological-historical background before that) to "The Coming of Percival" shortly before the graft quest featured in The Light Beyond the Forest, includes a very early, alternative version of Tristan and Iseult, a more familiar one of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and other Arthurian knightings and romances from Malory. As before, Sutcliff tells them straight, with apparently unswerving and heartfelt conviction.
Pub Date: Sept. 24th, 1982
ISBN: 0140371494
Page count: 270pp
Publisher: Dutton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1982


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