Seven Tales From King Arthur’s Court by John Erskine, Albert Seligman (editor)

Seven Tales From King Arthur’s Court by John Erskine, Albert Seligman (editor)
Publisher: Markosia Enterprises Ltd.
Genre: Young Adult (14 – 18 y.o.), Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Romance, Action/Adventure, Historical
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Voted BoM by LASR Readers 2013 copy

These “Seven Tales” were published in 1940 in The American Weekly Sunday magazine and have never been seen since. They showcase watercolors by English artist Edmund Dulac, who was one of the Golden Age illustrators. The texts were written by noted American author and musician John Erskine.

Chivalry never goes out of fashion.

The first half of this book included background information on the social history of King Arthur, a short explanation of how fantasy writing styles have changed over the last eighty years, and some brief biographies of the people who were involved in the original publication of these adventures. I was impressed by how much effort the author put into this section and grateful to have it. These details brought so much depth to what came after them, and they made certain scenes stand out to me as a reader in ways that I might not have fully understood if I hadn’t been made aware of certain facts ahead of time. While it wasn’t the only reason why I chose a full five-star rating, it was definitely a contributing factor.

Accolon stole King Arthur’s famous sword, the ‘Excalibur,’ in “The Tale of The Enchantress and the Magic Scabbard.” How that theft took place is best left for others to find out for themselves, but I was fascinated by Accolon’s gumption and King Arthur’s reaction when he realized that the sword in his scabbard wasn’t the one he usually used. This was an exciting adventure that made me wish to keep reading it.

None of the other King Arthur tales I’ve ever read were about the blood of Christ, so I was intrigued by the premise of “The Tale of Sir Galahad and his Quest for the Sangreal.” I liked the way the narrator plainly shared what happened to Galahad on his quest without leaping into the emotions of those moments no matter how much danger the characters might be in. It was quite unlike anything I’ve written from contemporary authors, and it often made me pause to reread certain sentences again.

After an uninvited guest was kidnapped during a dinner at the round table, Pellinore went to save her in “The Tale of Merlin and One of the Ladies of the Lake.” Merlin’s involvement in all of this is something that new readers should discover for themselves. I found it delightfully surprising and smiled at every plot twist along the way. The creative final scene fit the theme perfectly, and I only wish I could go into detail about it without giving away spoilers. What I can say is that it was a humorous way to end things.

Seven Tales From King Arthur’s Court was a thrilling read from beginning to end.

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