The Death of King Arthur

  • by Simon Armitage (translator)
  • Narrated by Bill Wallis
  • 10 hrs and 18 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

First appearing around 1400, The Alliterative Morte Arthur, or The Death of King Arthur, is one of the most widely beloved and spectacularly alliterative poems ever penned in Middle English. Now, from the internationally acclaimed translator of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, comes this magisterial new presentation of the Arthurian tale, rendered in unflinching and gory detail. Following Arthur's bloody conquests across the cities and fields of Europe, all the way to his spectacular and even bloodier fall, this masterpiece features some of the most spellbinding and poignant passages in English poetry. Never before have the deaths of Arthur's loyal knights, his own final hours, and the subsequent burial been so poignantly evoked.
Echoing the lyrical passion that so distinguished Seamus Heaney's Beowulf, Simon Armitage has produced a virtuosic new translation that promises to become both the literary event of the year and the definitive edition for generations to come.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Hardcore Arthur Fans and Medievalists Will Love It

Probably hardcore Arthur fans and Medievalists will be the only ones seeking this out, and to them I say, "what are you waiting for?"

The really cool thing about this book that the official blurb doesn't make clear is that the 10 hour length INCLUDES BOTH THE TRANSLATION AND THE MIDDLE ENGLISH ORIGINAL, as well as some short introductory essays. That means you get to hear it first in Modern English, (It's a nice translation that preserves the alliterative verse; Middle English isn't really all that different from Modern, so the translation does much less violence to the work than a verse translation of poem in a truly foreign language.) and then in Middle English… And that's great – once you've absorbed the details of the story, you can savor the sound of the original.

Though I wouldn't know correct Middle English pronunciation from wrong, (does anyone, really?) Bill Wallis seems as fluent in Middle as Modern English, and his somewhat ragged-sounding voice suits the tone of the text perfectly.

As for the story: this is a more active, classically-heroic Arthur than you see elsewhere – he fights in the front lines and wrestles with monsters. And Mordred, though still the villain, is interestingly reluctant about it at first. Lancelot has only a very minor role. It's a strange, and somehow still fresh-feeling, take.
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- Christopher

It may be what you want, it's not for me.

What did you like best about The Death of King Arthur? What did you like least?

I purchased this audiobook thinking that it was a retelling of Le Morte D'Arthur (The Death of Arthur) and not considering that it was an alliterative verse version of it. Some people will love that aspect of it, but I became too aware of it while I listened and had a hard time focusing on the story being told.Had I been reading it I may have done much better.

I am a fan of the tales of King Arthur, and have been for 40 years. This is an artistic, and wonderful retelling, but for the reasons I mentioned above I could not finish it. The fault is entirely mine, and I want to stress that those who appreciate this type of verse will probably LOVE it.


Would you be willing to try another book from Simon Armitage (translator)? Why or why not?

Possibly his translation of Gawain and the Green Knight. We shall see.


Have you listened to any of Bill Wallis’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I wasn't familiar with Wallis before and I have nothing bad to say about his reading. He reads with an assurance and understanding of the verse that is great to behold.


If this book were a movie would you go see it?

Yes. Without doubt.


Any additional comments?

Please don't let my comments detract you from purchasing this book if you really want to. It was just a personal deficiency that kept me from enjoying it.

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- DARBY KERN

Book Details

  • Release Date: 01-24-2012
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.