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For a complete adult telling of the stories of King Arthur, listen to Malory or T. H. White, because Pyle’s The Story of King Arthur and His Knights is only the first of his books about Arthur, recounting Arthur’s birth and youth and winning of Excalibur and Guinevere, and then Merlin’s fate and the stories of Sir Pellias and Sir Gawaine. Moreover, Pyle moralizes after the episodes, telling us, for example, that although we may not literally become knights with swords, we may wield truth (Excalibur) and faith (its scabbard).
As for David Thorn’s reading, his nearly tongue-in-cheek delivery was perfect for Jonathan Stroud’s Heroes of the Valley, but almost seems out of place here, for Pyle reveres Arthur, “the most honorable, gentle Knight who ever lived in all the world,” and his knights, while Thorn’s heroes often sound nasally arrogant. And a woman reads Pyle’s chapter titles and descriptions with an American accent and syrupy manner, jarring next to Thorn’s British English. And each chapter closes with repetitive pseudo medieval music fit for a cheap computer game.
Nonetheless, there is much to enjoy and admire in this audiobook. Pyle assumes a vivid and muscular “medieval” style, as when Arthur jousts a knight “out of his saddle like a windmill—whirling in the air and smiting the earth so that the ground shuddered beneath him.” Or as when Arthur delivers some justice: “At this, the face of that knight fell all pale, like to ashes, and he emitted a sound similar to the sound made by a hare when the hound lays hold upon it. Then King Arthur catched him very violently by the arm, and he catched the locket and brake it away from about the knight's neck, and upon that the knight shrieked very loud, and fell down upon his knees and besought mercy of the King, and there was great uproar in that place.”
And the Story of King Arthur has plenty of exciting and humorous moments and scenes of sublime wonder and beauty. And knights, wizards, faeries, dastards, damsels, hermits, quests, enchantments, disguises, combats, loves, hates, oaths, betrayals, humiliations, machinations, and glorifications. Despite Pyle’s exaltation of Arthur and company, they are often humanly proud, foolish, seducible, and violent. And Thorn reads all with energy and accuracy.
13 of 14 people found this review helpful
The Story of King Arthur and His Knights the book that was wrapped and placed under Christmas trees in my childhood in Canada in the 1950s. Lilting prose describes an entertaining world of idyllic countryside and cartoon violence. The narration is perfect, in my opinion. I look forward to enjoying this audiobook with my grandson, a 6-year-old Jedi.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful