The Death of King Arthur by Peter Ackroyd

The Death of King Arthur by Peter Ackroyd

This legendary classic has been reimagined in an understandable, concise form by the able hand of Peter Ackroyd. He does an excellent job of fixing the inconsistencies in spelling and events while still keeping the epic whole.The tale of knights, chivalry, and faith is as everlasting as always.

Arthur and Guinevere, Tristram and Isolde, Sir Lancelot, Sir Galahad, Sir Kay, Mordred and his ilk, Morgan le Fay; all the characters of Arthurian legend which have funneled through the years into our culture are brought together in a way that lets you understand the connection between them all.

It’s moving. It’s classic. It’s hilarious. While Ackroyd does fix some glaring inconsistencies, the ridiculousness of Mallory’s original text is left untouched. Featuring tales of such majestic lines as:

‘The Perilous Forest?’ I have heard of that place. I have always wished to visit it.’ 

and

By chance Tristram came upon them and, quick as a flash, he ducked Sir Dagonet and his men in the well. The shepherds were delighted. 


My personal favourite of this goofy gang is Sir Dinadan, the only knight with an ounce of sense. After having the great misfortune of falling into the heroic Tristram’s company, he gets quite fed up and states what the reader has been thinking all along, that Tristram’s eagerness to fight makes no sense at all.

Sir Mallory’s characters certainly live to the extremes. One minute Lancelot is holding an entire tree-truck in one fist and swinging it at his enemies. In the next he is weeping elegantly. Not to mention the many beheadings and of course, a scene where he literally kills Sir Meliagaunt with one hand tied behind his back.

Much of the book seems to have very little to do with King Arthur at all. Except it’s called The Death of King Arthur for a reason. 

I definitely recommend this to history buffs, lovers of mythology, and anyone who appreciates the romantics of chivalry or beheadings.