Rosemary Sutcliff–Reteller of Tales
Rosemary Sutcliff–Reteller of Tales avatar

Rosemary Sutcliff is a well-known writer of new versions of old tales for children and young adults. She has worked with many of the traditional stories from England and Ireland, including Beowulf, Tristan and Iseult, the Grail Legend, and Finn MacCool. She also retells stories from antiquity, like the Iliad and the Odyssey, and has written historical novels of ancient Rome and of early England.

The Sword and the Circle by Rosemary SutcliffIn The Sword and the Circle, one of her Arthurian books, she addresses works from the King Arthur romances, drawing from several different sources. She tells of the origin of Merlin taken from Prophecies of Merlin by Geoffrey of Monmouth (c. 1135). She retells some of the Arthurian stories from Malory’s Morte d’Arthur including Arthur pulling the sword from the stone to become king, Arthur acquiring Excalibur (a different sword from the one in the stone) and the Round Table, the coming of Lancelot and his love for the queen, and the lesser known story of Beaumains, the Kitchen Knight.

Some of the tales included here are loosely connected to the Arthurian legends. Sutcliff retells the story of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight from the 14th century romance by and anonymous author and includes the story of Gawain and the Loathely Lady taken from a variety of sources. The story of Tristan and Iseult is included in a shortened version based also on a variety of sources. Geraint and Enid, probably based on the tale of Erec and Enide by Chrétien de Troyes, is also retold here.

This book is a good introduction to a variety of stories from the Arthurian for anyone interested in the legends. Even after reading virtually hundreds of stories based on Arthur and his knights, this rendition was still worth my time.

2012, Decision Consulting, Inc. (DCI). All rights reserved. All copies must include this copyright statement.

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