Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The World of King Arthur by Christopher Snyder

This book examines the many parts of the Arthurian myth, from Arthur the possible real leader of men during Britain's Dark Ages, the real kingdoms and wars of Dark Ages Britain, and several possible ages that might have held "the Real King Arthur". However, Snyder shows us why these possible, hopeful Arthurs all fail to have real substance, and then traces the mythical Arthur, from the earliest stories to later compilations of the tales.

Snyder shows how the idea of Arthur grew from a Bronze-Age warlord to the Christian warrior and near-perfect knight he is in later tales. How both Guinevere and Lancelot entered the picture, and tales of other famous knights and places became attatched to the Arthurian places and names.

Most amazing is how the idea of Arthur nearly died out and was resurrected by the romanticists of later ages to become the most famous and popular myth and tale of times and ages past.

This is a large book with lots of information, enlivened with many pictures, reproductions and illustrations from medieval texts and various artwork of the times. If you don't believe in Arthur, but enjoy the story, or even if you want to believe, this is the book for you. Although the author comes down pretty strongly on the side of "no historical Arthur", you are free to decide for yourself when and where he might have existed, if he existed at all.

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