Because of my storyteller hissy fit earlier this week about the latest King Arthur remake in the works, several people asked me if there are any re-tellings of Arthurian legends that I actually like. Believe it or not, there are some. My problem is not with the idea of re-tellings; my problem is with re-tellings done wrong.
And yes, I realize this is an entirely subjective judgment.
So, just to prove that I am not some anti-adaptation storyteller grump, here is a list of My Favorite Arthurian Things:
The Once and Future King by T.H. White
This was my point of entry and fandom of origin, my introduction to Arthurian legends. I don't even remember when I read it first, but I could not have been more than thirteen years old. I still love this book. It is a great re-telling, both epic and very, very human. And I love what he did with Merlin.
Talk about human. Morris treats Arthurian legends with empathy, great humor, and very deep understanding. He leaves the magic in, but does not shy away from making fun of certain characters, or calling out the inconsistencies in Arthurian lore. His protagonists are lovable, and he portrays Arthur exactly as I imagined him to be. Also, he does justice both to Gawain and to Kay, which is always a bonus in my eyes.
If you only read one thing from this list, read this. If you only read one book from this series, read The Quest for the Fair Unknown. Or The Savage Damsel and the Dwarf.
The prefect Arthurian movie has already been made, and it is called Excalibur. It is a classic. It is strange, and sometimes surreal, and very close to the original, and all-around awesome.
What? It's the kind of humor I like. And the Hungarian dub is hilarious. Also, it's a very, very quotable movie.
The Arthur Trilogy by Kevin Crossley-Holland
Okay, so I only read the first of these three books so far, but I really liked his take on the story. Also, the stories embedded inside the story. And the idea of seeing Arthur as a child of the crossing places.
Taliesin by Stephen Lawhead
The first book in a series, and only marginally Arthur-related, but I have a soft spot for this book anyway. Partly, because I loved seeing Taliesin's legend re-told, and partly because it also features some Minoan culture, which was a strange mix that somehow worked.
So, there you have it. I am sure there are more good re-tellings out there, I just have not found them yet. Also, there are a good many that are more popular than these... But as I have mentioned earlier, I am very picky.